All our actions and behaviours have underlying motivators – some just speak louder than others. We need to learn how to turn up the volume on what it is we need to accomplish and turn down the volume on distractions.
Self motivation is a tricky thing. There are times when just getting out of bed can be difficult, let alone checking off everything on your ‘to do list’. Why is it we can find a million and one reasons not to do so something, and at the same time struggle to find even just one reason to follow through on what we really ought to be doing?
Where does self-motivation come from? It’s such a powerful force, the strength you need to make your goals and dreams reality.
Rafa Nadal comes to mind and his famous “come on!” when he’s feeling the pressure on the tennis court. Where does that motivation come from? Our inner voice is the key.
This voice of self-motivation has the power to get us to do those everyday actions that we find the hardest, like going to work, studying, and exercising. It can also influence our thoughts and make them strong enough to excite us and fill us with passion as we make our way towards our objectives.
It is estimated that, on average, our minds process 60,000 thoughts a day. That equates to about 40 thoughts per minute. We think and react mentally to circumstances or moments that we go through, depending on innumerable emotional variants.
Many of these thoughts go unnoticed, others we try to hold back when they try to escape and others, without realizing it, become part of our reality.
We form opinions about ourselves and our environment starting from a very young age. An opinion is defined as an idea, judgment or concept that a person has or forms about something or someone. We should respect people’s opinions, since different opinions come from the diversity of humankind. That doesn’t mean, however, that every opinion is true or even valid!
Objectively, it is impossible to be right in every one of those 60,000 thoughts we mentioned earlier. They are simply personal judgments, without any guarantee of their validity. Many of these thoughts and opinions help us reflect and get inspired.
These are part of our self-motivation. Others, however, sabotage our well-being and actually discourage us.
Self-motivation and motivating factors
However, for every one of these discouraging factor, there are others that motivate us, spur us on and make us feel able. How can we create an impulse that will positively influence our mood? How can we make our “motivating factors” outweigh the discouraging ones? And how can we be encouraged without needing external voices?
Guidelines for self-motivation
Here are seven ways to encourage yourself in order to create the self-motivation so necessary for the challenges of life and the goals you set yourself.
1. Inner dialogue
If we don’t want to accept any thought as truth, we need to create a healthy inner dialogue. We need to differentiate between which thoughts will hinder us and which will help us in our goals. This is quite difficult to start doing.
One way of doing this is to create an imaginary character, name them and have a dialogue with them. Sometimes you will have to set limits for them, other times you’ll need to calm them down. Eventually, however, you’ll be able to create a “friendship” that will last a lifetime.
2. Be aware of your mood
We live with our many moods; some of them are more productive and constructive than others. Self-compassion will help you cope in the difficult times, knowing that when you decide things, you’ll have tools to change them. Practice exercises that connect your mind and body, such as yoga or mindfulness.
3. Go from obligations to decisions
How many of your thoughts start with “I have to…”? It’s time to make decisions and change them to “I’m going to”. If you make a list of those “I have to…” thoughts, you’ll see that many come from routines you’ve created, customs you’ve inherited or rules that aren’t really necessary in your daily life. How many of your “I have to …” thoughts are actually your own personal choices?
4. Work through your personal values
Personal values are deep convictions that determine your way of life and guide your behavior. When they move you to take action they are very powerful. For each “discouraging factor” there is a personal value that balances your life and empowers you.
5. Create a positive learning attitude
You are human. If what you want is self-motivation, an obsessive pursuit of perfection doesn’t really help in the long term. If you have a positive attitude towards learning, then you’ll see your errors as part of the process. You learn and you adapt. The moment you accept your imperfection you’re taking the first step towards excellence.
6. Work towards excellence
When you work towards excellence, you’ll discover the satisfaction of achieving what you want without having to make comparisons. You don’t need to compete with anyone, because excellence helps you improve day by day. It is demanding, but also understanding.
7. Trust and have faith in yourself
Start to trust in yourself, little by little. Just because in the past you tried something and didn’t achieve it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve it now. Have faith and know that at all times you are doing things the best way you know. Believe in yourself. You don’t need to be Rafa Nadal, but do remember that famous cry of his and… COME ON!
Remember that self-motivation comes from within, building on the strengths and virtues we all have. Don’t give up at the first attempt, or the second, or the third. Each step of the way, prove to yourself that you can improve.
Don’t underestimate yourself. You will always make mistakes, but you need to make sure you turn them into tools for learning. As long as you have the will to transform them into strengths, you will never truly fail.
Self-motivation is born in the present. Faith in your capabilities will make this quote of Abraham Lincoln part of your life:
I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. – Abraham Lincoln.
Maybe you need help staying focused enough to get all the little things done, or do you have something a bit bigger in mind? Is there a goal that you’ve been trying to reach but your plans keep getting derailed? Do you tend to start things only to run out of steam midway through, or is getting started part of the problem? Wouldn’t it be great to have the self motivation to tackle projects large and small without losing interest, running out of energy, or getting distracted? Inside you there is a great fount of motivation just waiting to be tapped into.
Motivation comes from our unconscious (subconscious) mind. This is why we can know on one level what it is that needs to be done and have every intention of doing it, yet still find ourselves drifting away from our goals. Something inside us is singing a different tune. We have to get our unconscious mind on board with our plans in order to maintain the motivation needed to get things done.