The Four Conditions To Increase Your Motivation
I’ve heard expressions like “I need more motivation” and “I just don’t have enough motivation to do this” many times. And I’m sure you have heard them too. Of course, it would be nice to wake up, get a cup of motivation, and go on with your day. Unfortunately, this is not how it works. Motivation is not something we can get. Let me explain what I mean.
Motivation Is Like a Momentum
There is a common stereotype in our society that everyone needs a motivation boost. We don’t even question it when we hear someone say “I didn’t feel motivated.” That might be true for that person, but what they actually need is to create the right environment for motivation to happen naturally and catch the momentum. Motivation is an effect and not a cause.
Motivation is like a force of momentum that moves an ocean wave. It gets the wave moving, but it isn’t the cause of this movement. Other things, such as tidal flows and the whole body of water, have collided to create the wave in the first place. Does it start to make sense?
We Got It All Backwards
I have already mentioned that motivation is not something we can get all of a sudden. It’s a result of many other factors. In other words, motivation has certain prerequisites, or conditions. When those conditions are met, we just feel motivated. This is actually very helpful to know.
Even though we can’t just get motivated suddenly, we can make sure that the conditions for motivation are met. That’s what we need to focus on deliberately. Even though we can’t get a cup of motivation, we can prepare the ingredients for it, so to speak.
The Four Conditions For Motivation
1. Clear Objective. Clarity about our overall direction in life is a very powerful driving force. For example, imagine that you have an assignment due in one of your classes. Of course, your mind can find a million reasons to procrastinate and not to feel motivated.
To break this cycle, let’s think about the big picture instead. I find one simple exercise especially helpful for that. I call it ‘The Truth-Seeker’. Basically, you ask yourself the same question, ‘Why am I doing this?’ many times, until you reach the deepest and most important reason. This reason reveals your true motivation. Example: I have an assignment due, but I don’t have any motivation to do it.
- Round 1. Why am I doing this assignment? Because it is worth 10% of my grade in this class.
- Round 2. Why am I taking this class? Because it’s a part of my major.
- Round 3. Why am I getting a degree in this major? Because I want to have a career in this field.
- Round 4. Why do I want a career in this field? Because I think I will enjoy the lifestyle of this profession, which includes a good salary.
- Round 5. Why do I want a good salary? Because I would like to support my parents who are working really hard right now.
Clear Objective: It is important for me to complete this assignment to be able to support my parents later in life.
2. Defined Action Steps. Imagine a feeling of driving a car through thick fog in the morning. At some point, the question ‘Where am I going?’ will come up accompanied by a feeling of pointlessness. It is a similar feeling that stops a person from taking action if they are not sure that this step will actually take them closer to their desired destination. Motivation diminishes when the direction isn’t clear. Good news is the opposite holds true as well. As soon as the action steps are outlined, they replace the need for motivation.
3. Experience. Let’s imagine doing any task for the first time. For example, snowboarding or learning a new language. The learner would naturally find someone they can observe and borrow experience from. It could be a snowboarding instructor or a native speaker. As time goes by, the student begins to feel a combination of curiosity, confidence, and motivation about getting a new skill.
Similarly, if there are no books or videos, no teacher or peers, and no other sources to borrow experience from, the student would feel demotivated, lost and maybe even scared or frustrated. Thus, personal or borrowed experience ignites motivation. Surrounding yourself with people who have already reached the same goal you want to achieve is a common success strategy for building momentum. If they could do it, you can too.
4. External resources, such as information, money, or simply energy, can affect the way we feel about any task. For example, I may not feel motivated to study when I want to sleep and it is raining outside. To overcome this, I identify what resources I need to help me gain motivation and do my best to acquire them.
- I feel motivated to study when I’m surrounded by other people who study. The resource here is surrounding myself with other people doing the same thing. To do that, I can go to the library or coffee shop.
- I feel motivated to study when I don’t feel sleepy. The resource is getting enough sleep.
- I feel motivated to study when the sun is bright. The resource is bright light.
I Say “I’m Not Motivated”, But I Mean …
Obviously, “I am not motivated” is a self-destructive limiting statement. The process of overcoming lack of motivation starts by looking at the underlying causes.
- Am I madly in love with my objective?
- Am I even clear what my objective is?
- Do I need more experience? And who or what can help me gain it?
- What other resources could be helpful?
Answering these questions helps me to create momentum and jump on the motivation train.
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Motivation is an effect of the four factors: clear objective, defined action steps, personal or borrowed experience, and external resources. By focusing on all, or at least some, of these factors, we can increase our chances to feel naturally motivated, catch the momentum, and be all that we want to be.