We’ve all gone through adversity at some point in our lives. Whether the hardship was due to a global crisis like a pandemic or a personal tragedy such as the loss of a loved one, declining health, or losing a job, these types of difficulties can dramatically impact our mood, health, and outlook on life. And while there’s no way to avoid distress in our lives, there are things that we can do to regain a sense of control in our lives.
So, if you’ve recently noticed that you’ve been having difficulty following through on your New Year’s Resolutions or achieving goals that you set for yourself earlier this year, chances are that it’s probably a lack of motivation that’s keeping you from exercising more, losing weight, saving money, improving your diet, or accomplishing whatever specific goal it is that you set for yourself.
But before you get down on yourself, realize that being aware something is off in the first place is a major accomplishment in itself. Now, you can evaluate possible reasons why you’re struggling and then develop a plan to help motivate yourself to get going once again.
Motivation is the reason (or reasons) why we act or behave the way that we do. The three major components of motivation are activation, persistence, and intensity. Activation involves the decision to start a behavior, persistence is the continued effort toward a goal (even though obstacles may exist), and intensity can be seen in the concentration that goes into pursuing a goal. Psychologists have also proposed different theories of motivation, which are often described as being either intrinsic or extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation is defined as the things that motivate a person with the aim of being rewarded internally. It’s an internal drive for success or a sense of purpose. So, anything that makes you feel good within yourself is fueled by intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation comes from someone or something else outside of the person being motivated. It’s doing something for the external rewards that you will get from it. Since extrinsic motivation stands for all the things that serve as an external drive, they can be classified into two main categories: compensation and punishment.
An example of compensation at work is when an employee does his or her job well and gets paid appropriately. On the other hand, punishment can be an employee knowing that if he or she comes into work late, he or she will get fined, or maybe even fired, which is the reason why he or she shows up on time every day.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
Both intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation can both be positive or negative, but intrinsic motivation comes from inside, while extrinsic motivation comes from outside (or external) sources.
Intrinsic motivation is difficult to stimulate and hard to apply to a group, but this type of motivation can be sustained for a longer period of time. On the other hand, the reward is an automatic booster with extrinsic motivation, and it’s easier to apply this type of motivation to a group. However, extrinsic motivation will only have a limited hold on a person.
What if you’re someone who’s not motivated by an intrinsic or extrinsic motivator? Well, one study found that a group of factory workers whose jobs entailed performing the same mundane tasks each and every day and lacked both kinds of motivation were spurred on by a third factor known as ‘family motivation.’ Workers who identified with the statement, ‘I care about supporting my family’ felt more energized and performed better each day, even when they didn’t find the work enjoyable and had no financial incentive to perform it.
Family motivation can also relate to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. If you value your family, then your family can serve as an intrinsic motivator. But if you feel pressure from your family, then that’s more of an extrinsic motivator.
5 Tips On Feeling Motivated Again
Since we want you to get back on track, here are five ways that you can stay motivated when you’re going through tough times.
1. Prioritize One Goal At A Time
While it’s certainly admirable to want to exercise more, lose weight, save money, and improve your diet, that’s a lot to focus on at one time, especially when your time isn’t your own and you’re not feeling like yourself of late. When you have too much going on in your life and are trying to do too much every day, it can drain your energy and motivation. So, choose one goal for now and focus on it completely. Then you can start working toward your next goal after you’ve accomplished your first goal.
2. Revisit Why Your Goal Is Important To You
Before you give up and quit, think about the reason(s) why you set a particular goal for yourself in the first place. Why is it important for you to achieve this goal?
Let’s say your goal is to improve your diet, why did you set this goal? Was it because you know that you usually feel better when you eat healthy foods? If that’s the case, improving your diet and eating healthy foods may actually then help you feel better, especially when you have a lot going on in your life.
Knowing whether you’re driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motivation will also go a long way in helping you achieve your goal. If improving your diet is your goal and you’re driven by extrinsic motivation, then go ahead and reward yourself if you’re able to improve your diet for an entire week by treating yourself to a self-care activity like a massage or buying yourself a gift. On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s driven by intrinsic motivation, feeling more like yourself again might be just what you need to continue on with your new and improved diet.
3. Focus On The Things Within Your Control
Do you find that negative thoughts are constantly racing through your mind? If constant worrying is what’s preventing you from achieving your goals, write down a list of all the things that you can’t control and then give yourself permission to stop worrying about them. After you do that, focus on the next action that you can take to improve your current circumstances.
If your goal is to save more money, you might not be able to control what your rent or mortgage payment is each month. But you can work on earning more money. Maybe your next action is setting up a meeting with your boss or manager and asking them what you need to do in order to get a raise in the next six months. Then focus on doing just that over the next six months, while giving your boss or manager updates along the way. When the six months are up, set another meeting with your boss or manager and show them all the ways that you’ve added value to the company and achieved all of the goals that were set for you. You’ll either be given the raise, as discussed, or you’ll know that it’s time for you to start looking for another job at a company that will value you and pay you what you’re worth.
4. Practice Self-Compassion And Self-Care
It’s one thing to hold yourself accountable, but it’s an entirely different thing to be extremely harsh and overly self-critical. If you’re someone who’s harder on yourself than anyone else could ever be, start practicing self-compassion.
Research shows that self-compassion is much more motivating than self-criticism, especially when you’re going through tough times. One study found that self-compassion increases the motivation to recover from failure, while another study discovered that self-compassion decreases psychological distress, reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduces the harmful effects of stress.
Creating and following a healthy self-care plan that includes regular exercise, getting enough quality sleep each night, eating a healthy diet and drinking water, making time for fun, and using healthy coping skills to deal with stress will also help with your motivation.
5. Remember Your Accomplishments And Celebrate Your Wins
Hey, you. Yeah, you. You’re pretty awesome. Chances are that it has been a while since you’ve taken the time to actually think about all the things you’ve already accomplished in your life, especially if you’re feeling frustrated and going through a rough patch. So, if you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, remind yourself of your accomplishments and know that this tough time that you’re going through right now will eventually pass.
Start celebrating your wins in life – both big and small, too! Celebrating your wins will help you feel good about yourself. And when you’re feeling good, incredible things will start to happen for you.
*The links used in this article are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Iovate Health Sciences International Inc. or any of its affiliates (“Iovate”) of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. Iovate bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.