Have ideas, but never go anywhere with them? Want to change your life, but then feel too tired to be bothered?
How to motivate yourself when it feels impossible?
If we can’t get going in life it’s rarely that we are ‘lazy’, or ‘not smart enough’, or any of the other self-criticisms we let run through our head. Although these criticisms can definitely be part of the problem.
A lack of motivation doesn't meant that there is something wrong with you. It’s that there is something wrong with your thinking, or with the things you are trying to get motivated about.
So how to overcome such blocks? And how to then motivate yourself from there?
If the things you are trying to be motivated to do leave you feeling exhausted just to think about? It’s probably not a values match.
If we don’t take time to identify what our values are? We can try to live out the values of our parents, partner, or peers. We end up going against ourselves and feeling lost over inspired.
We all have a comfort zone. But to make things happen we need to stretch a little bit past that comfort zone and try new things.
It can be easy to think that we are feeling fear and just stop trying to move forward. When really it might just be the nervous excitement of trying something new.
Negative thinking not only saps your energy, it leaves you believing trying is pointless. But it's usually extreme and unrealistic. It can sound like ‘never’, ‘always’, or be very dramatic.
Of course an overly positive thoughts can be just as unrealistic. It’s what cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) calls 'balanced thinking' that can bring us back to the calm clarity we need to move forward.
Catch your thought. Now find the exact opposite, no matter how silly. Looking at the two extremes, can you find a thought in the middle? (I never succeed so it’s pointless to try/ I aways succeed so I have to try/ I sometimes succeed at what I do, so iwhy not at least give it a try?).
“Raise your self-esteem" would be great advice if it was actually easy. But overcoming years of feeling unworthy is a lot of work.
A new shortcut of sorts is self-compassion, found by studies to be connected to better self-esteem. It's powerful enough there is a type of therapy created around it (compassion-based therapy). It means cutting yourself some slack and treating yourself like a friend.
If you write a letter to your friend over a recent struggle they have had, encouraging them to keep going, then change the name at the top to yours and read it aloud, how does it feel? Could you speak like that to yourself more often?
Lack of motivation can come from overwhelm. And overwhelm happens when what we think we need to do is simply too big or convoluted.
We need to break the mountain into boulders, the boulders into rocks, and the rocks into pebbles we can make sense of and move one at a time.
Try to break your goal into its smallest possible components, until you have a list of mini goals that each wouldn’t take more than a day to achieve. Do you feel more energised thinking only of doing one of those things?
The SMART acronym for goal setting is also useful. Is your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (can you do it in a certain time frame)?
Really want help moving forward? Why not try talk therapy.
A therapist can help you recognise and change the limiting beliefs that hold you back and the negative thinking bringing your down. And they can help you recognise what life you actually want for yourself, and how you can get from here to there.
Ready to make this your best year yet? Book a therapist now at a price you feel good about and start talking your way in new directions.