Many of the folks I speak with on a daily basis are struggling to find the motivation to do the things they have to, start something new and to see it through! I confess I have seasons like this in my life and have to be deliberate about tending to my heart and mind to stay motivated. To be deliberate is key because when the challenges arise it is very easy to slip back into lethargy. Once we have allowed ourselves to slip into lethargy, it takes a whole bunch more effort to get motivated again.
Inspiring motivation is a deliberate process, a renewing of our minds as we learn to cultivate motivating thoughts and at the same time recognize and de-power negative ones. This will take some effort. Like ruts in gravel roads, patterns of thinking form ruts in our mind and as such, it takes effort to stay out of them! This comes through reflecting as objectively as possible on your thoughts and feelings thereby learning to recognize thought / emotional patterns and steer away from the unhealthy ones. This will also help you to focus on the things that give life, the tasks at hand without inadvertently sabotaging yourself!
There are three general reasons why we may lose our motivation:
- Unsure what we really want to achieve. Lack of clear vision.
- Unclear about how to proceed and a general lack of understanding of strengths and weakness.
- A general lack of self-confidence.
What’s your Vision?
The Bible tells us that the people perish for lack of vision and being unsure what it is specifically we want to do, to achieve will have a significant impact on motivation. Have a clearly defined goal and objective is key to inspiring motivation. A clear sense of what you want to achieve is in itself is a tremendous motivator and the first step to establishing a concrete action plan. Take your time to understand the desired outcome or goal and understand the purpose and meaning supporting it. What are the potential benefits and potential risks? In short, understand what is you are trying to accomplish in as specific ways as possible.
Watch for subtle emotions and thought patterns that seem to creep in that will discourage you. These thoughts can masquerade as wisdom. Wisdom is rooted in love, in truth and is positive, where the discouraging thoughts are rooted in fear - fear of failing, fear of being judged and fear of being rejected.
Learning to recognize the differences between true wisdom and fear is a key for inspiring motivation! Your fears do need to be addressed for what they are. Understand what issue is that is driving the fear. By doing so, we can often see these fears in the light of wisdom and they will be dispelled. It is abandoning ambiguous fears and replacing them with genuine, informed healthy focus which brings a genuine, inspiring motivation.
- Clearly define your goals or what you desire to achieve.
- Be honest and reflect on your feelings - be aware of the emotion of fear.
- Choose what you are going to do with those fears - face them and overcome them. Focus on the goal and allow is to energize the overcoming of obstacles.
Assess the tools and steps to achieve your goal.
With a clear vision, this positions you to best to begin to formulate the steps necessary to work towards the completion of these tasks / goals. This will give you the opportunity to identify the best path to your goal, evaluate the kinds of tools / skills you possess and what you will need to develop or acquire elsewhere. Also, to identify potential challenges and road blocks and plan how these will be dealt with.
Some tasks can seem so overwhelming but as my Grandma used to tell me - it’s just like eating an elephant - one bite at a time! With a plan inspired by a clear vision, we can see the task being achieved in a series of deliberate smaller steps instead of one monumental leap! In this light, the task seems that much more do-able, and this inspires motivation.
- Identify specific steps to achieve goal / task.
- Identify road blocks and challenges.
- Do a skills inventory. What skills do you possess to achieve the task?
- Identify the skills / tools that you need that you do not currently possess and decide how the need for these tools will be aquired.
- Implement the plan. One step at a time understanding it is a process to achieve your goal.
This can be a difficult one to overcome because it can be deeply rooted in our worldview. This is where renewing our mind becomes so important, along with tenacious courage. For many, failing can be a very traumatic experience, and for many, once bitten, twice shy! For some they have had experience with conflict around a task or via petty politics. For many of us, we fall into trap of comparing ourselves to others and will often feel inadequate, like the object of our comparison may have more skills, charisma than we do. The comparison game is always treacherous because we tend to overestimate the skills and abilities of others and underestimate our own.
To address the area of confidence, we need to address our fear of failure and it’s ugly step-sisters fear of being judged and fear of rejection. It is often a very powerful first step to recognize and accept our fears. We cannot deal with an issue we deny having! In being honest about our fear of failure, we can then begin to explore cognitive ways of addressing it as well as dealing with the emotion of it. By owning these fears and thinking them through, we discover that often these fears are not founded in anything concrete at all. When fears are brought into the open, into the light so to speak, the dark cloud dissipates.
Make sure you have people around you who will genuinely encourage you. Not the proverbial “Yes Man” but folks with whom you have a relationship and trust to give you honest feedback and cheer you on towards your goals. Connecting with a coach can also be a great idea. A good coach can help you through this process with insight and a variety of tools and get you moving!