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The key to Motivation

What is motivation and how do you tap into it? For me it boils down to the courage or will to do something rather than procrastinating and doing nothing at all.

Eventually at some point a switch flicks and it is easier to make that big or small change than to stay the same. It is easier to make the change and feel uncomfortable at the gym than to procrastinate about improving one's health. It is easier to feel awkward while learning a new skill than to feel disappointed about not trying at all.

This, I think, is the root of motivation. Every choice has a cost, but when we are motivated, it is easier to deal with the inconvenience or fear of change than the pain of remaining the same. Eventually we cross a mental barrier, usually after weeks of procrastination and in the face of an impending deadline (or pandemic), it becomes more painful and inconvenient not to do the work than to actually get started and try.

Now for the important question: How do we cross this mental threshold and feel motivated on a consistent basis?

Studies show that motivation usually kicks off from action, actually starting a new behavior, rather than thinking about starting, acting. Something interesting then happens. We start a new behavior and all of a sudden, we don’t need as much motivation to see it through. It's almost always more natural to continue this new task or behavior through to completion than it was to start in the first place.

Make starting as easy as possible, start small!

A lot of the time we complicate a new behavior by overthinking its starting point...

“I want to start working out! But can I commit to working out the recommended 2-3 times per week?”

“I do have a lot of deadlines at work”

“It is winter and its cold and dark a lot”

Even starting with a walk a week will help develop a routine and motivation to continue. From there, who knows it might escalate! Thinking too far ahead and putting yourself off is only going to keep you in the same loop. So I say start small, make it easy and let the motivation build naturally.

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Now for the hard part: Routine

So we started, great!

“But today I don’t feel like I'm up to it”

“I’ll do it when I have a chance”

Creating a schedule or routine to help you structure the days/times you want to be achieving this new behavior is another key to its success, leaving the decision up in the air makes it all too easy to push it back and start procrastinating again.

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Set a time and place where it best works for you and if you miss a day its scheduled for the next day or week not just up in the air, book it in for weeks and months to come to reinforce the habit, and again who knows it might develop on its own, scheduling it in once a week might turn to twice a week and voila, we are turning a schedule into a ritual, something that might stick for a long time to come.

So start as small as necessary, just make that start!

And build it into your schedule, make habits not excuses!

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About the Author

Jake Sharp

Jake Sharp

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