How to Increase your Motivation and get Unstuck

It's Monday morning at precisely 8:19am.  I do not feel motivated to write this blog post.  I like writing, and I really enjoy blogging, I'm just completely lacking in the motivation department this morning.  I suppose there could be a number of reasons - the grey, Autumn weather settling over the Northeast, not enough sleep last night, or not enough coffee this morning.  I also keep getting distracted; I'm working from home today, and there are reruns to be streamed, and a cat to be pet.  The more I think about it, the less motivated I feel.  So, I'm sitting down to write anyway.  Read on to find out what might be interfering in your ability to get motivated, and what to do about it!

  • If you wait for motivation to strike, it may never happen!  I hear this (and feel this) often.  I'll do the laundry when I feel like it, I'll go to the gym when I feel up to it.  Sound familiar?  Never once in my life have I ever actually wanted to do laundry, and I'm willing to bet that there are things in your lives that you just may never feel intrinsically motivated to do.  Here's both the good news and the bad news - you don't have to wait for an unreliable feeling like motivation to strike, act! Take an action, no matter how small, and this is where your motivation will come from. The more action you take, the more motivated you'll feel, the more action you'll want to take.  

  • Be mindful not to set unattainable goals:  Now that you've got the action part down, it's important that you take the right type of action.  If you have so much laundry piled up that you're able to roll out of bed and down a gentle slope of dirty towels (note: this has never happened to me, it's just a hypothetical example), setting a goal to finish it all right now will likely not be achievable, and will work against you in the motivation department.  Setting unreachable goals over and over again becomes demoralizing over time.  Instead, perhaps just set a goal to sort that laundry.  Motivation might take over like a snowball, or it might not, but your laundry will be sorted, and you can set a new, achievable goal tomorrow.

  • What cognitive distortions might be getting in the way?  A cognitive distortion is a thinking mistake that most people experience from time to time.  They cause us difficulty when we assume, without question, that they're 100% true.  There are two particular types of cognitive distortions that can really sap your motivation:
    • All or Nothing Thinking:  This type of thinking mistake tells us that things fall neatly into one of two categories - good or bad, perfection or total failure.  If perfection is the only acceptable outcome in any task that you set yourself, and minor mistakes are seen as total failures, it's going to be difficult to summon up the motivation to complete anything!
    • Jumping to Conclusions:  When we jump to conclusions, we not only assume that things are going to turn out poorly for us, but we actually feel as bad as though it's already happened.  Why bother starting anything at all if it's just going to turn out to be a complete and total mess.

            Learning to recognize and challenge these thoughts when they happen will keep them from sabotaging your                      motivation

  • Allowing our emotions to dictate our behaviors:  Emotions, both positive and negative, are extremely important.  They can provide us with valuable information - a little anxiety before a test can motivate someone to study, however, too much can be paralyzing.  It's important to remember that although our feelings are important, they're not facts.  If excessive anxiety, sadness, or fear are interfering in your motivation, this video on Opposite Action might help!

Thanks for reading this and helping me to work out my motivational issues this morning!  I hope it's helped with yours as well!

Dr. Scrivani specializes in the Cognitive Behavioral treatment of anxiety and related disorders, behavioral parent training, and provides tele-mental health services to residents of New York, Florida, and internationally. Call (888) 535-5671 or email [email protected] to set up a free consultation.  Visit my website for more information

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