In January, we always see tons of things that talk about motivation. Why? Because way back in December, we were possessed by the idea of resolutions for the new year. Maybe it was getting a new job, maybe it was exercise, maybe it was improving your relationships. Whatever you resolved to do, you really did mean it! But we’re human and as time goes by, our resolve weakens. That’s where motivation comes in. This month, we’re going to take a look at what motivation is, what it’s not, how to maintain it and how to find it if you’ve lost it.

What Is Motivation?

While it’s a word we use a lot, in a variety of settings, what is motivation? The basic definition of the word according to Webster, is “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” They also say it’s “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”.

Let’s go back to that list of resolutions. Say one of yours is to exercise more. You want to boost your energy levels and live a healthier lifestyle in the new year. That’s great! You start off the year hitting the gym and are just starting to feel like it’s working.

But Then, It Happens

“It” could be anything. From a big work project to an unexpected snow storm to just feeling…meh. So, you skip working out that day. And since tomorrow was a rest day, you skip that day, too. Then you find yourself rewriting your workout schedule, (“Twice a week is still good, right?”) and pretty soon, that resolution has been rescheduled to 2019.

Rewards and Penalties

One thing you may be using is a reward system to keep your motivation up. If you work out, then you can (insert reward here). Say your goal is to fit into that great outfit you’ve had your eye on. While that might seem motivating at first, over time it doesn’t seem so…interesting! That’s the key: over time. The idea of instant gratification (eating ice cream now) may begin to win out over your goal (fitting into that new outfit in three months). And once you have a scoop, it becomes easier to have another…and maybe even another. The topping on your favorite ice cream isn’t just hot fudge at that point, it’s also going to come with a side of guilt. And monetary penalties aren’t quite a motivating factor you might think, either. Thinking about your membership payment vs binge-watching Stranger Things again: the Upside Down will most likely win.

So What Then?

Motivation isn’t just a single thought or idea you can cling to to push your way through to your goal. That might work, but if it doesn’t, you’ll be worse off than you were. In the next post, we’re going to look at the science behind motivation. Is dopamine what’s pushing you, keeping you going? Or perhaps gratitude can also help? Make sure you bookmark our blog page to learn more in next week’s post!