What is motivation? We all know when we have it and when we don’t. In our society, we’re often told – explicitly and implicitly – that without motivation, nothing would ever get done. No wonder this mysterious motivation stuff is so sought after!

Yet despite the constant quest for the Holy Grail of motivation, I don’t think it’s something we can ever “find”. The truth is, motivation is the state that naturally arises when our desire for something – or to do something – overrides our desire to stay still. When that happens, we find ourselves moving forward effortlessly, almost mindlessly, in a natural flow of action, often accompanied by feelings of excitement, expectation, and pleasure. Motivation is you, moving forward.

Here are 3 steps to unlock your motivation:

Step 1: Respect your inertia

When you’re not motivated, don’t jump to the immediate conclusion that you should be. Take the time to tune into why you’re not motivated.  It could be that your energy levels are low, and that you need a rest before you charge off in the direction of your latest goal. You wouldn’t set out on a long, fast journey in your car with no oil, little fuel, and a rusty engine, would you? No – you’d have the engine tuned and oiled, and the tank filled. Afford yourself the same respect and take some rest and recuperation, if you need it. If you’re actively demotivated – that is, if you feel yourself actually resisting moving towards something – again, ask yourself “why?”.

Become still and go inside – do you really want the thing you’re trying to become motivated about – or do you just want to want it? There’s a big difference, and you won’t be able to properly awaken your desire until you know which position you’re coming from. Also, make sure that it’s you that’s doing the wanting. No one else can be motivated on your behalf.

Are you going after your own goal, or a goal that someone else has set for you, that you’re none too thrilled about?

Step 2: Awaken your desire

Motivation appears when your desire is stronger than any barrier or obstacle it’s going to have to face. It doesn’t always seem that way – we can be motivated and terrified at the same time, moving forward in a state of fear (during an exam, for example). And yes, of course we can be motivated to move away from something, as well as towards something. 

Nonetheless, the fact that you are able to move at all is an indication that something in you is stronger than any force – internal or external – that’s trying to keep you still. To fully realise you motivation, you have to do one of two things – either overcome resistance, or awaken desire.

Overcoming resistance is about checking out whether you’ve got any limiting beliefs you need to tackle, or perhaps some very practical external obstacles you need to deal with.

To awaken desire, you need to focus on what you stand to gain from moving forward. By all means, focus on the ultimate goal, but you must focus on the small steps too. In fact, it’s best to find the “smallest unit of gain” you possibly can,and focus on building your desire for that.

So, the next time you have big task to tackle, such as a dissertation to write – don’t sit staring blankly at a pile of paper; pick up just one sheet, and look forward, with all your heart, to the feeling you’ll have when you’ve written just one sentence. Love it for its own sake,and write it. Then write the next for the same reason…and the next…and the next. Before long, you’ll have the first of many pages, and you’ll be on your way.

Step 3: Go for it!

I’m not a fan of positive thinking slogans like “just do it”, because I find myself thinking “if it was that easy, we would! The fact we’re not doing it means something’s stopping us.” But in this case, it is useful to remind ourselves that motivation is a state of action. Without taking action, we can’t find the smallest unit of gain.

Getting started – no matter how small the step – will put us in touch with what it was that attracted us to starting in the first place, and give us the opportunity to build the strength of that connection. It’ll also get us out in the world, where we’re more likely to bump into other people, new ideas, and fresh opportunities. 

There are few things more motivating than that! So, rest if you need to.  Remind yourself of why you wanted to move forward in the first place. Then – get to it.  By taking even that smallest step towards a dream, we’ll awaken and feed our desire, and – as if by magic – motivation will appear, and we’ll be moving forward again. Not because we went looking for it, but because we got out of our own way, and let motivation appear naturally, in perfect timing. “Motivation is in the doing.”

Article curtesy of the coaching academy by- Brian Cormack Carr


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