Imagine a life without rewards and happiness. A life where you work but get no salary, an office where there is no promotion, a school where you give exams but get no results, you are an exemplary student but get no praises. Why would you want to work when you don’t get anything back? What is the purpose? Where are the rewards? Motivation is exactly that reward. It is the urge and reason that pushes us to achieve our goal. That reason could be money or material things or it could be positive emotional/psychological reinforcement. And when there’s no goal or reason, there is no motivation.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE LOSE THAT URGE?
From getting up in the morning, going to college, choosing a major, to choosing a profession; motivation is involved even in the simplest of our daily routines. Simply put motivation refers to the desire to do something or anything. Without it, an individual may as well be a robot. We call an individual without motivation, depressed because motivation is like the life force inside us, the force that urges us to take charge and make decisions. And when we lose it, we don’t feel the need to get out of bed, to go to work, to study, to laugh or smile.
POSITIVE VS NEGATIVE MOTIVATION
They both are different sides of the same coin. It is believed that human mind perceives things in two types- pleasure or pain.
Positive motivation is the pleasure. For example — when one wants to lose weight, she/he would imagine a fitter version of themselves and that becomes the motivation for them to exercise. Or when one wants to get successful in life, she/he would imagine a rich and successful life. And they’re motivated to study hard.
Negative motivation or demotivation is the pain. For example- when one wants to get slim and lose weight, she/he will envision themselves as fat and unattractive in their future. And that gives them the motivation to exercise harder so that they don’t end up fat. It is the same as negative reinforcement. When a student doesn’t get good marks, the teacher tells her/him that she/he will fail the session. And that motivates the student to study hard. Fearing the consequences of not doing something is how demotivation works.
But demotivation, however effective it may seem, works only to an extent and can have long term negative impact on the individual. The individual could get used to it, after a point the pain and fear might just not matter anymore. Or it could be used for something good. For example- behaving badly with a friend makes you feel guilty and motivated you to aplologize. Therefore, use of positive and negative motivations depends on the individual, the situation, and the intensity of motivation. Sometimes demotivation works best, sometimes positive motivation and sometimes a mix of both works.
HOW TO GET MOTIVATED?
One thing to remember is that the biggest motivation comes from inside you. There is no bigger incentive or reason out there that could trump the reason from within you.
ASK YOURSELF- AM I HAPPY?
This is the most important question. Are you happy? With what you are doing or how you are living. And if you are not then that is the main reason why you seem to have lost all passion and hope. Lack or loss of motivation is just our mind’s way of alarming us that the path we are on is not the right one for us. Only you know yourself best, so think about what you want, how you want it and what do you need to do to get it. And just observe how fast motivation comes running back.
SET A GOAL, A REALISTIC ONE
The most important way to get motivated is to set a goal. What is it that you want to achieve? Remember, the goals you set must be realistic. It’s even better if they are small/short goals. Because big unrealistic goals on one hand let you aim high but at the same time set you up for a downfall. When your expectations are not met, it demotivates you. So, be specific about what you want to do and then work toward it.
If you are doing something out of obligation or fear and otherwise have absolutely no interest in it, then stop now! Leave whatever that something is! This is your life; the choices you make should be yours too. When you do not care about the task, it means you don’t care about the reward and when you don’t care about the reward, that means you have no reason. No reason equals to no feeling motivated to carry out a task. Discover your passion and motivation will just be behind you.
YOU CANNOT STAY MOTIVATED 24/7
It is okay to not be highly motivated every second of your life. No one ever is. Every person has experienced bouts of no motivation in their life and that’s fine! Like I said, this is just our mind’s way of alarming us, so that we walk on the right path. So, toss all those worries aside. Take a deep breath. And just let it be. It will pass as soon as it delivers the message it was meant to.
TAKE A BREAK
Contrary to what people think, our minds too get exhausted. Taking a break is essential for our mental health. When the body and mind are wiped out, jow would you be motivated to do anything? Your body needs a break in case of a physical and emotional burnout, so give it that break! Do not push yourself too hard. Sleep properly, eat healthy, exercise and take care of yourself.
Even if you didn’t achieve your end goal, praise yourself for the small winnings. It is of utmost importance to acknowledge your efforts yourself too. Treating yourself to an ice cream or even saying -”I gave it my best” is positive enough to make a difference. Do not in any condition, criticize yourself. Even some harsh words in our mind can affect us so deeply. Contrary to popular belief, efforts do matter. Sometimes, they matter more than results. Praise yourself for stepping out of the comfort zone and doing things differently.
ASK FOR HELP IF AND WHEN NEEDED
Sometimes self compassion doesn’t work. You may need help from family or friends. Don’t hesitate to ask for their help. Tell them your goals; it makes them concrete for you. If someone reminds you of those goals, you work harder to achieve them. Keep a progress report too, to observe what you have accomplished and what is yet to be achieved.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs
Every person is different. What may work for one, may not work for the others. Individual differences in people set them apart in the type of motivations that work for them. Acknowledge those differences; try different ways of motivating yourself. There is not a tried and tested method, you have to do trial and use. As soon as you figure out your goals and interests, motivation won’t be far behind.