Becoming Self-Motivated When You’re Not
Nowadays, if you want to achieve anything you must become self-motivated. No one is going to reach out and hand you your dream on a silver platter! If you want to start a business, create a masterpiece, change your lifestyle, lose weight, learn a new skill, or travel the world, you’ll need to master your ability to motivate yourself from within. It’s a fact of life.
But if becoming self-motivated is so essential to the big picture we call our lives, why do we struggle so much to keep it going?
The answer is simpler than you think. It’s not that hard (at least in America) to scratch out a decent, normal existence without too much trouble. You can get by without being very self-motivated. You can get by on just following the rules, guidelines, and expectations of others…to a point. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to fall into a pattern of complacent survival. Not all that inspiring, but definitely doable for most.
However, if you have a desire outside of the box of social norms, where the structures that support productivity fade away, you won’t be able to succeed without self-motivation. There won’t be anyone telling you what to do or how to do it. There won’t be deadlines or criteria to guide you, no set alarm to get you up and going. Without something to lose, what will keep you going?
This is where most people fall short, failing to create a new self-driven foundation for getting things done…no matter what.
If truth be told, I’m writing this as much for me as for you, my dear reader. I need this reminder because I’ve been through a lot of change lately. My foundations have been shaken a bit. I sold my house and I’m living in a temporary situation without an office or even a desk. At present, I’m sitting with my laptop on a strange couch, surrounded by books and notebooks, my cat sleeping quietly on the other end.
Keeping my writing schedule on track has been really hard for me. Sometimes I just wander around in this “new land” waiting for things to settle down. I avoid looking at the marked-up drafts of my next book in progress. I tell myself that no one knows. No one will care if I never write another word. They might ask, but they’ll be okay with it if I don’t.
The only thing that ever gets my fingers back on the keyboard is this unintended desire nagging me, making me feel lousy when I get too far from “home,” too far from what it is I know I came here for. I’ve not yet met my potential or possibility for my life to matter. I know there’s more I can do to help, to serve, to be of value in the world.
And so I begin this advice on becoming self-motivated with the absolutely essential requirement of meeting your soul’s desire, that quiet whisper telling you that there’s more.
Take time to ask yourself the important questions: Who am I doing this for and why? Whatever you are doing, at least be clear about what you’re creating. These are some of the most important questions you could ask yourself. Establishing autonomy over your path and purpose allows you to define success for yourself. As long as you’re living within the parameters society has laid out for you instead of by your own creation, you’ll always be motivated according to their rules, guidelines, and expectations.
You’ll always feel a struggle in life when you’re going against the flow of your soul’s desire. You’ll feel it even when you don’t know what it is.
So listen to your heart as much as your head. Learn to separate the external noise of expectations from the quiet call from within. Give yourself permission to daydream. Use your imagination like you did when you were a kid. Take yourself seriously and believe in what you’re capable of. Your soul’s desire isn’t just a nice idea, it’s your blueprint for making your life more authentic, and making an impact on the lives of others too.
You are either complaining and whining about what is stopping you, or you have taken complete responsibility for getting what you want (even if you don’t have it yet). Ownership means you are aware of who is holding the steering wheel in your life. You know when you’re motivated, or when you feel uncomfortably stumped, lost or fearful, and when you’re just being lazy or apathetic.
Becoming self-motivated requires us to give up our “right” to blame our inaction on anything or anyone. We also have to give up our need to complain to others about what’s stopping us now. If you want to meet success on your journey, stop asking others to reinforce your lack of motivation, because they will. Instead feel free to ask for help, call on experts’ advice, seek real solutions, and look for the answers to move forward. Put yourself under contract to be better and do better.
You own your life so act like it!
You’ve probably felt the frustration of feeling the motivation and then losing it. Even very driven people experience this pattern of ebb and flow repeating on their journey over and over again. It’s important to become aware of it and realize it doesn’t mean anything significant. It doesn’t mean failure or that you’re doing the wrong thing. It’s simply part of the process. Lean in.
Riding this roller coaster of motivation followed by retreat is how we learn self-regulation or what we can accomplish now, not in the future. Set your big goals and then set them aside. Immerse yourself in the baby steps, the small, incremental, nearly invisible actions that eventually lead to bigger results. Make the steps you take small enough to be sustainable even when life gets tough. Otherwise, you’ll never gain momentum biting off more than you can really chew.
If you become overwhelmed, you’ll quit when the discomfort outweighs the pleasure of what you’re doing. And every time you quit, there’s’ a chance you might give up for good. Once you build up steam and strength, you can take on more, because you can.
Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged by setbacks or perceived failures. We call them “baby steps” for a reason. We don’t punish or shame children if they stumble when learning to walk. Instead, we shower them with encouragement and support. Learn to give yourself these things as part of your self-motivation.
Allow all aspects of your life the room to grow. Avoid going too far on any one day that other areas of your life begin to suffer. IMO, most of us spend way too much time working on “work,” and not enough time with other important aspects of life. Seek to motivate yourself to have it all, for all areas of your life to flourish. Make ample time for health, money, spirituality, relationship, and creativity. As multi-faceted human beings, we require balance.
This is one of the most difficult aspects of our lives to manage because most of us aren’t great at listening to our needs. We push too hard one direction and then suffer somewhere else. Becoming self-motivated includes a commitment to balance, to making sure all of your needs are being met fairly. For me, that means working six out of seven days, but not without breaks or past a certain time when I get to devote the rest of my day to exercise, good eating, social interaction, and prayer and meditation. I do my best to eliminate the things that don’t serve my vision at all.
it all starts with the vision, the desire for a better/different life from the one you have now. If you don’t have anything to drive you to be self-motivated then you don’t need it, to begin with. But if you do feel drawn toward something, even if you can’t name it right now, know that you can become self-motivated. It is something you can teach yourself and it’s not that hard.
So, just for today, begin with calling yourself self-motivated. Give yourself the label; it’s a good one. And then follow the guidelines above to create a new identity that allows you to really follow your dreams and live the life you came here for, to become the person you were always meant to be.
Thanks, friends for reading. If you have any additional advice on this front for me, or for others on this journey too, feel free to add them in the comments below!