Here are three ways to stay motivated everyday.
Let’s talk motivation. Not the kind of motivation you need to make changes in your life. Instead, we’re exploring the motivation you need to simply enjoy your life the way it is. We have jobs and tasks we have to do every day, but that doesn’t mean we’re always motivated to do them.
Psychologist Dr. Tom Golightly claims you don’t have to go far to find this type of motivation. It could already be there inside of you; you just have to know where to look. He shared with us ways to find internal motivation for the things we are already doing.
How to Stay Motivated
- Autonomy, Competence, and Connectedness. If these three are not a part of the activity, it is unlikely any natural, internal drive can exist.
- Autonomy in this sense is being able to make choices about the activity, and feeling like there is a sense of control over how you engage the activity. Think of the child learning to play the piano (something we’ve done with every one of our children). There will always be some cajoling to get them to practice. But can you allow for some control over how they engage – what they find fun to play, when they want to schedule practices and rehearsals, etc. Without a sense of autonomy, we might feel forced or somehow compelled to participate, which is somewhat the opposite of internal motivation.
- Competence – in order to flourish in any activity, we have to feel challenged. When I ask athletes why they like what they do, they usually say, “WINNING!” To which I respond, “Then why don’t you just go out and find a bunch of 6th graders to dominate and win every time?” They usually laugh and admit there’s more to it than winning. Competence isn’t just being good, it’s being pushed. While we feel challenged by the activity, we simultaneously feel like we have enough skill to meet the demands of the challenge. If we are bored or apathetic, we will disengage. If we are in a situation we perceive to be too demanding for our current skill set, then we might feel anxious, and avoid the activity. So, internal motivation is about finding that right balance between challenge that pushes us and building skill to meet that challenge.
- Connectedness – how does engaging in this activity help us relate and connect to other people? Believe it or not competition and cooperation are types of connection to others. Many times I’ve been introduced to someone who became a good friend through competition, including teammates, classmates, etc. There is the potential for a bond to form through competition – like on the OG Karate Kid. Cooperation kind of speaks for itself. When we are receiving and giving help to and from others, we are going to be connected to them. We are a highly social species as humans. Howe we experience connectedness to others can foster how we connect to an activity.
- Value-congruence. I feel like I mention this a lot when I’m on. A good question to ask ourselves is how does this activity align with who I think I am and the person I believe to be. If I am constantly engaging in activities that don’t align with my values and who I think I am in the world, I will have a hard time loving that activity for itself. I love movement and physical activity. Athletics and movement have always been a big part of where I find joy. I naturally select activities with these values in mind. Clarifying our values and aspects of our identity will help us intentionally chose activities that are in line with helping us become the best version of ourselves.
- Removing competing interests and values. Piggy backing off of that, I hear so many of my clients express frustration that they are not the be-everything, super mom who is all things to all people as the PTA president, leading community events, with a thriving social media-influencing- business on the side. No one has the ability to flourish in all areas at all times. Sometimes we lack motivation, not because we don’t love the activity, but because we have too many things going on. I had a football coach that used to warn all of us around this time of year, “Men, it’s about time to quit your jobs and warn your girlfriends that you ain’t gonna be seein’ them much.” That was his way of saying, let go of some of the competing values (which aren’t bad values) if you want to be les stressed around participating. If we are stretched too thin, we won’t love the things we are doing, and will have a harder time engaging mindfully. We have to prioritize and let go of some of the other things we love in order to flourish.