How to get motivated and move forward

how to get motivated
Being motivated to play video games is not the same as being motivated to do your studies.

Motivation naturally dies when you are tired. Physical illness can make you tired and unmotivated. If you are tired, visit your doctor for a health check to rule ill health out.

If you are still unmotivated, you are emotionally blocked.

Emotional blocks always involve an internal conflict. Here are some examples:

  • Evan wants to study but he finds he is playing games, watching YouTube videos or posting on FaceBook. In fact, he is doing just about anything instead of studying. He knows he is risking his future success but he can’t seem to stop it.
  • Emma has decided she needs to leave her relationship because it is not meeting her needs but she doesn’t. The only time she expresses her feelings is in the middle of a heated argument. Then her partner gets upset and she backs down. Emma feels trapped. She just can’t seem to move forward.
  • Miranda wants to have a tidy house but she just cannot seem to get organised. She starts a clean out but it stalls. Something more important comes up. Just thinking of the mess gives her a headache. She knows she should be able to get control of her place but it just never happens.
  • Albert wants to get physically fit. He joins a gym and starts the program, determined to go every day. Soon he feels he deserves a day off. Then another. Before he knows it his motivation is gone and he wonders how to get it back again.

In each example there is a psychological conflict. One part of each individual wants to move forward but another part doesn’t. A belief is holding them back. They picked up this belief many years ago and it is so deeply programmed they are not fully aware of its existence. Usually they formed these beliefs from messages they received as a child or from their reaction to a significant experience.

Evan cannot focus on his studies because he holds a strong underlying belief that studying is a waste of time.  Why?

  • He might believe that he is not smart enough to hold this qualification. Perhaps he was told he was stupid and treated as if he is not capable.
  • He might believe he does not deserve to gain this qualification. Perhaps he came from a family where no one has ever been to university. Perhaps his family is proud of its blue-collar ancestry and he feels uncomfortable being different.
  • He might fear that the course he is undertaking is not right. It might not suit him or he doubts that it will get him what he wants. If this is the case, he is reluctant to make the necessary change. His reluctance might be a fear of letting others down or a fear of creating conflict.

Emma cannot leave the relationship even though she wants to. A part of her doesn’t feel comfortable breaking up.

  • Emma might be afraid of hurting the feelings of her partner. If so, she has been bought up to believe that hurting another is wrong.
  • She might be afraid of the reactions of her family and friends. If so, she relies too heavily on the views of others and she does not confident in herself.
  • She might be afraid of being alone. If so, she believes she is not worthy of a more suitable partner.

Miranda cannot get her house organised because some attitude is in conflict with this goal.

  • She might hate throwing things out because she was taught that wasting anything is wrong.
  • She might hold onto stuff because she fears not having enough. Her family probably passed this fear onto her.
  • She might be rebelling. Perhaps she had a parent who was fanatically tidy and hassled her to clear up. If so, she decided at some point not to be like this parent and now she goes to the other extreme.
  • She might be rebelling against her partner especially if he complains about the mess and puts her down. If so, she is angry and there are unresolved issues in her relationship.

There is a reason why Albert cannot get fit:

  • Perhaps he is easily distracted because physical fitness is not a high priority. Life might be a struggle for Albert. He only feels life is worthwhile if he can engage in behaviour that makes him feel better such as drinking, overeating, lazing about or other unhealthy activities.
  • Perhaps he believes that going to gym will make no significance difference to his health.
  • Perhaps he believes he doesn’t have what it takes to maintain a physical fitness program and he keeps proving this true by giving up.

Each of these people hold a sabotaging belief. As long as this belief is active, they will struggle to get motivated.

If you are in struggling with getting motivated you first need to identify the belief that is blocking you moving forward.

You do this by asking the question: “What is the belief that is holding me back?” If you are open and willing to hear the truth, the answer usually pops into your mind immediately.” Be ready for it. You might find you want to discount it before you get a chance to consider it. Unfortunately, we have a habit of pushing away uncomfortable information.

Once you have identified the sabotaging belief, you need to challenge it. Sometimes this is difficult because it is so ingrained. Get professional help if you get stuck here. Usually you need to gather more information. Investigate the origins of the belief. Talk to friends or family who can help.

While you are challenging the belief, replace it with a belief that is more useful and motivating. For example:

  • “I deserve this qualification.”
  • “I can find a balance between being fanatically tidy and being messy.”
  • “My partner is allowed to feel hurt.”
  • “My health is my highest priority.”

Once you have dismantled the belief and replaced it with an empowering, useful belief, you are on your way to achieving your goals.

Do you need help feeling motivated? The team at North Brisbane Psychologists can help – book an appointment today!