How to get your motivation back up and running

If you have kids you’ll have experienced a major change in your life when schools reopened.  Now that you’ve had a couple of weeks to adjust, how are you feeling?  If you’re like me it could be a mix of emotions. You may be noticing that your usual energy and umph has not come back – which might be a surprise given the return to something more like ‘normal’.

After a long period of lockdown and home schooling, plus a continued diet of Covid news items on TV, on our newsfeeds etc perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that our inner motivation hasn’t instantly returned.

An explanation of our motivation, including giving it a reboot, has been explored by psychologists who have taken ideas from the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers.  For example, Martin Seligman’s work on positive psychology and happiness, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s on getting into a flow state and the creators of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

The great philosopher Socrates with his artful questioning was a big influence on the development of CBT.  This approach to therapy is the one most widely used in the NHS and the questioning techniques are also used by counsellors.  You often hear people saying things such as, “I’ll never be able to do …” or “Getting this sorted out will be a NIGHTMARE”.  In situation like this there is a good chance they are expressing an irrational belief and a suitable question from CBT via Socrates may help them to see things differently and find a way of handling the situation they are in.

As the Roman Stoic philosopher Epictetus so wisely said, “Men are not disturbed by things, but by their opinions about them.”

Influenced by modern psychology and the ancients, I’ve written three Meee in a Minute books on ‘micro-moments’ for life, work and family. Micro-moments offer us a quick, practical way to change our opinions about things and, as a result, change how we feel, the outcome and even our life.

Let me share some ideas for getting our motivation and general umph back.

 

ABCD Model

CBT has given us the ABCD model which helps us when we are having a wobble or feeling demotivated.  By following the logic we can understand what may be triggering us, and gain control over both our thoughts and feelings.  This in turn helps us to access our best self, find our motivation and take action that is productive.

A is for activating event. For example, the lockdown bread I’ve been trying to bake while working from home and home schooling – has burnt.

B is our beliefs that interpret that event and construct meaning. I should be able to get this right every time.

C is the consequence, especially the thoughts/emotions/feeling you have. For example, self-doubt. I’m no good at this. Why do I bother?

D is disputing i.e., challenging such unhelpful thoughts. What about the fantastic scones and cookies I made last week?

The next time something makes you feel stressed, take a moment to notice what beliefs you have about what is happening.  What interpretation are you giving to the event or situation? The interpretation driven by our beliefs will be the only one on offer unless we pause and revaluate using ABCD.

One burn loaf does not make you a bad cook.  It may just mean you had to answer a work phone call.  Perhaps review your baking timetable, doing it in the evening or at the weekend!

 

Setting realistic, incremental goals

When we are in a bit of slump or finding it difficult to get motivated, our tendency is to pursue an all-or-nothing approach. If we have been struggling to get fit, we might launch into running a 5K straight out the blocks or perhaps dedicate a fortnight’s exercise to sprinting as fast as we can. This is worst strategy to adopt. Instead, it is far better to start small. Simply aim to be 1% better tomorrow than you are today.

This is a much more viable approach and is much more likely to produce the desired result, provided we remain consistent. It also allows us to tap into the concept of flourishing. Flourishing also has its roots in ancient philosophy – this idea is from Aristotle. It is all about engaging our highest drives to develop ourselves to the highest level. Take a moment to consider one thing you would like to change and focus on improving that by 1% every day.  Small steps can lead to big things.

 

Gratitude Ritual

One of the most powerful mind tricks that I employ each day is the gratitude ritual. I’m not perfect at it and I don’t always remember to do it, but the idea is to start and end the day with three things that I’m grateful for.

Consider adding the process onto an existing habit so you don’t forget. For example, as you are cleaning your teeth morning and evening, use that time to also bring to mind three things, people, or whatever else you are grateful for. Try to come up with different things rather than the same few each time. And don’t just list them. Really connect to that gratitude as an emotion. Remember, it’s not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy.

You might have noticed by now that these ‘micro-moment’ suggestions are focused on changing your interpretation and meaning – choosing a better frame or belief through which to view your situation.  Right now things are really challenging for a lot of people and that is true across the globe. But we need to stay motivated and positive. Each tiny change to your thinking can make a huge difference, just as a grain of sand that helps make up the sandy beach and coastline of opportunity, hope and being. One small change, then another gradually adds up to the bigger change we want.  Soon our motivation will be back, up and running.

 

 

I am Sid Madge and I am the founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives.

To date, I have transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of PLC’s and SME’s to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates.

I have written the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work -, or family-life in 60 seconds.

 

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