During the current global health pandemic, there’s been alot of talk about how to stay motivated when you’re stuck at home but you still need to get things done, whether that’s working or spending more time with your kids, doing chores around the home or whatever it is for you. So here are some well worn myths that will take away all your excuses not to get to whatever it is your meant to be doing! If you want to stay on the sofa, don’t read this!
Motivation Myth #1: We need rewards or incentives to be motivated
The idea that we need external factors such as incentives or rewards to motivate us is one of the most common motivation myths.
Take the example of sales teams who get offered incentives to boost their performance and make them go that extra mile. But if it really was the incentive or reward that was driving a person’s motivation and excellence, then all sales people would feel motivated and inspired to do their best work when given incentives, but that’s not what happens. You’ll find three distinct types of responses.
Some people will tell yout the incentive motivates them to excel, some will be indifferent to it and it will have no bearing on how they perform, and the third group will believe it’s actually de-motivating.
And it’s the same in any performance area where rewards and incentives are created. You’ll always find a range of different responses to the same set of external circumstances because our motivation comes from within and is generated by how we think about the situation at hand, which is why we can all respond very differently to the same set of external circumstances.
Motivation Myth #2: Motivation is at the mercy of external factors
We live in a world where we believe our motivation or happiness is at the mercy of outside factors. People will say that they’ve lost their motivation or that their to-do list is ‘stressing them out’ but it’s not possible for a list or even a workload to stress someone out. It is only ever our thoughts about the list or workload that gives us feelings that we might describe as stressful. Thought creates our motivation and also reduces it.
Let’s take someone in a very busy work environment who feels that they’re not coping well. The common belief is ‘If the workload reduces, I won’t feel so overwhelmed’ or ‘I’ll get my motivation back’. Well maybe that would happen but there are also people who have a smaller workload or an easier situation and are still getting overwhelmed. So what accounts for the difference?
The answer is simpler than we realise. Whilst we’re taught to believe that a change in workload will make us feel better, what really happens is that we have a change of thinking about the workload and this gives us a different feeling and increased perspective. And it’s this fresh perspective which helps us to manage our work and increase motivation. It’s also true that in some cases, the workload may be too much. In this situation, having perspective is the greatest way to motivate clearer thinking so you can handle anything more effectively.
Motivation Myth #3: Setbacks cause de-motivation and discouragement
We all experience setbacks, difficulties or disappointments from time to time. For many of us, it will seem as though the setback itself is the cause of how we are feeling. How often do you hear people justify their mood or feelings with ‘because this happened’ or ‘because they did this to me’.
But if it really were the situation that could make a person think and feel a particular way, why doesn’t everybody get down or disillusioned when they have similar setbacks? Instead, we find that some people thrive and rise to the challenge whilst others want to hide away in a cave for a week.
You can probably notice a theme emerging! Every day we are being shown the truth of how motivation works. For example, how is it that we can get just as activated about a trivial thing as we do about the big important things?
While if often seems like the situation is governing your state of mind, it’s actually your state of mind that is shaping how you experience the situation.
It’s helpful to remember that in any moment, you are always experiencing your own thinking coming to life inside of you in the form of a feeling or emotion and this gets projected out into the world, just like a projector illuminates the image on a screen.
It’s this inner world of thought and feeling that creates a particular state of mind creating the lens through which you perceive life. It’s these moment to moment perceptions that are really shaping what you do.
Motivation Myth #4: Some people are just not motivated
The truth is that human beings have a natural unlimited source of motivation within them. So you could say that we are born motivated. Motivation is the impetus, will and energy to take action, to perform certain behaviours, to move through life.
The question is, what is motivating you right now? What inspires you to make the best decisions and choices and do those things that really matter? As I explain in my book, motivation is self-regulated – it doesn’t come from external factors. We just think it does! For example, there might be days when you wake up in the morning and you feel invincible, you want to jump out of bed and grab life by the horns and yet on other days you’d be quite happy to stay in bed and do nothing all day.
If you ask people the reason for their motivation changing, they’d probably give you a whole bunch of reasons. They might say ‘oh it’s dark out’ or ‘I didn’t get a good night’s sleep’, but in reality it’s got nothing to do with the external factors of our lives. It can only come from one place, which is how the power of thought is playing out through our minds in any given moment.
We often think we need to feel a particular feeling before we can take action – for example ‘I need to feel motivated before I can go to the gym’, or ‘I’ve got to feel confident before I can make that phone call’. This is a classic thought trap.
If you ask experienced actors or comedians if they still feel nervous or anxious before going on stage, many will tell you they do. If they waited for their nerves to subside they’d probably never get on stage.
We can spend our whole lives waiting and believing that ‘I’m not ready’. Yet many of the most successful and inspiring people who make things happen in the world don’t let their feelings hold them back. They are not waiting for some perfect moment or some particular feeling.
My friend once told me that if she waited to feel motivated, she’d never go to the gym on a Saturday morning. She isn’t waiting to ‘feel motivated’ to get out of bed. She just makes a choice to go running and she does it. Her actions aren’t based on a temporary state of mind. They are based on her intentions to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
What are your intentions? What are you inspired and called to create?
Motivation Myth #6: It’s all about positive thinking
Being motivated and inspired is not about forcing ourselves to think more positively. You don’t need to trick yourself into being motivated. You just have to see what is getting in the way.
If we think that something other than thought in each moment can make us feel a particular way, then it’s going to give us plenty to think about and manage. Yet when you realise that how you think and feel is not governed by other people or situations, it will free your mind and motivation or inspiration will show up without any help.
It’s really helpful to realise that any state of mind is like the weather. It’s just a temporary experience of your own thoughts and feelings.
In summary – feeling motivated is instantly available to you when you recognise what gets in the way
The key to being getting sh*t done is to understand what gets in the way of that! And all that gets in the way is a simple yet widespread misunderstanding about where our motivation and all feelings are coming from in any given moment.
It’s how we think motivation works that determines our experience of it. And this is really good news because it means that it’s far easier to get motivated than we realise.
(If you like this and want more, try my bestselling book Instant Motivation – click here to get your copy).