Thursday, February 9, 2012
What is motivation and why do I not have it?
Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst, getting to the gym to get in shape, or reading a book to gain knowledge. The best, most applicable definition I found for motivation comes from Urbandictionary.com, "motivation is that thing in the back of your mind that drives you, no matter what seems to be stacked against you". Well if that is in fact the case, then why do some people lack overall motivation and give up? Don't we need to be motivated to survive? Does motivation give us the survival of the fittest?
According to psychologists, motivation involves the biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that activate behavior in all humans. In everyday usage, the term motivation is frequently used to describe why a person does something. Motivation has much to do with desire and ambition, and if they are absent, motivation is absent too. Often times when we perceive we are failing, we lose that desire and ambition subsequently losing our motivation. We now lack the push, the initiative and the willingness to take the necessary action. Hence why we give up on those actions; getting in shape, eating right, quitting smoking, no matter what the circumstances are, when we lose motivation we set ourselves up to FAIL!
Motivation becomes strong when you have a vision, a clear mental image of what you want to achieve, and also a strong desire to materialize it. You can materialize your motivation by giving setting yourself up for success, setting small obtainable goals for yourself to build upon. This guarantees your success and follow through. In this situation motivation awakens and pushes you forward, toward taking action and making the vision a reality. Motivation strengthens the ambition, increases initiative and gives direction, courage, energy and the persistence to follow one's goals. A motivated person takes action and does whatever it needs to achieve his/her goals. A motivated person is a happier person, more energetic, and sees the positive end result in his/her mind.
Motivation is one of the most important keys to your success. When there is lack of motivation you either get no results, or only mediocre results and end up giving up. Whereas when there is motivation you attain greater and better results and overall achievements. Compare someone who wants to lose weight and get healthy who lacks motivation and who doesn't eat right or do any physical activity, to someone who is highly motivated and who watches what they eat and portion sizes and devotes many hours to physical activity; they will get absolutely different results. It amazes me how often I hear from clients who have had bariatric surgery or are dieting that send me a food journal with things that clearly should not be consumed (fried chicken wings from KFC, diet coke, or M&M pancakes, yes these are real items found on food journals) and either workout very little or don't incorporate any physical activity into their plan whatsoever and then can't understand either why they are not losing weight or are in a plateau.
Components of MotivationThere are three major components to motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation involves the decision to initiate a behavior, such as deciding to lose weight and get in shape. Persistence is the continued effort toward your goal even though obstacles may exist, such as incorporating a workout into your schedule when a significant investment of time, energy and resources are needed. Finally, intensity can be seen in the concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing your goal. For example, one person might coast by without much effort and lose 5 pounds in a month, while another person will workout regularly, eat appropriately, and take advantage of meal planning classes and support groups.
Extrinsic Vs. Intrinsic MotivationDifferent types of motivation are frequently described as being either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivations are those that arise from outside of the individual and often involve rewards such as stepping on that scale and seeing weight loss; crossing the finish line of you first 5K, marathon, or Ironman; and social recognition or praise from friends and family. Intrinsic motivations are those that arise from within the individual, such as doing a complicated cross-word puzzle purely for the personal gratification of solving a problem. Which type do you rely most on? Do you do things for self-gratification or do you look for the motivation to come from others around you? What happens when those around you don't support you or question you?
What can you do to enhance your motivation?Awaken the power that will push you toward accomplishing your dreams, small and big! Here are a few suggestions:
1. Set a goal. If you have a major goal, it would be a good idea if you split it into several minor goals, each small goal leading to your major goal. In this way, you will find it easier to motivate yourself, as you will not feel overwhelmed by the size of your goal and the things you have to do, and the goal would seem more feasible and easier to accomplish.
2. Understand that finishing what you start is important. Hammer into your mind that whatever you start you have to finish. Develop the habit of going to the finish line.
3. Socialize with achievers and people with similar interests or goals, since motivation and positive attitude are contagious. Associate with motivated people, who share your interests.
4. Never procrastinate anything. Procrastination leads to laziness, and laziness leads to lack of motivation.
5. Persistence, patience and not giving up despite failure and difficulties keep up the motivation to succeed.
6. Read about the subjects of your interest. This will keep your enthusiasm and ambition alive.
7. Constantly affirm to yourself that you can and will succeed.
8. Look at photos of things you want to get, achieve or do.
9. Visualize your goals with happiness and joy.
Remember, if a certain goal is really important, you need motivation to keep you going.