The new year has come and it’s time to make those new year’s resolutions that we have come to know and love. We know we aren’t going to stick to them yet we love the fact that we still have good intentions for ourselves every year. But why do new year’s resolutions have such a bad reputation for achievement? Why are they so hard to keep?
How do I start working on a goal?
The first step to set specific, achievable objectives. First, think about why you’re setting the goal and what you want to change. What’s the next job you’d like to obtain? What’s that awful habit you want to kick? How do you hope your relationship improves? Identifying the importance of the goal can focus attention and strengthen the motivation to accomplish it.
Divide the overarching goal into a series of small, specific, measurable tasks. Small goals are easier to accomplish, and checking each one off the list may invigorate you to keep going as will the hit of dopamine delivered after completing a task. Making items measurable also allows you to recognise and celebrate when each one is finished and then move on to the next step.
Goals should be calibrated at a precise level of difficulty. If the goal is too hard, you might be too intimidated to begin. If the goal is too easy, you might be too bored to finish. The optimal goal is slightly out of reach, it presents a challenge that’s attainable. This concept is called the Goldilocks effect: People engage most with material at the precipice of complexity. Create a plan to accomplish each small goal. Balance a realistic understanding of the challenges ahead with confidence that you can overcome them. The main focus should be on how to keep up that motivation.
What Is Motivation?
Motivation is the desire to act in service of a goal. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining one’s objectives and research shows that people can influence their own levels of motivation and self-control.
Motivation can have many sources, and often people have multiple motives for engaging in any one behaviour. Motivation might be extrinsic, whereby a person is inspired by outside forces, other people or events that transpire. Motivation can also be intrinsic, whereby the inspiration comes from within a person, the desire to improve at a certain activity. Intrinsic motivation tends to push people more forcefully, and the accomplishments are more fulfilling.
One framework used for understanding motivation is the hierarchy of needs. Humans are inherently motivated to better themselves and move toward expressing their full potential and self-actualisation by progressively encountering and satisfying several levels of need from the most fundamental, such as for food and safety, to higher-order needs for love, belonging, and self-esteem.
People reach the pinnacle of growth and find the highest meaning in life by attending to things beyond the self. Many believe this captures fundamental truths about human motivation.
What happens if I lack motivation?
It’s safe to say, most of us are lacking motivation at the moment due to the global pandemic, economic situation and the fact that every day is groundhog day. Even at the best of times, everyone feels demotivated or devoid of willpower now and again and accomplishing a big goal can still lead to a listless lack of direction, as there’s a sudden motivational void that needs to be filled, but no bullseye objective is yet in sight.
If you’re chronically unmotivated, or unable to begin a task that is of clear importance, several possibilities are in play. Your goals may need to be re-calibrated, usually because the task is too big or too amorphous and needs to be broken into smaller components, as discussed above. You may be experiencing burnout.
You may lack confidence, rather than motivation, and are therefore afraid to proceed. Close in kin to a lack of confidence are perfectionism and procrastination. If you inherently doubt your ability to accomplish the task at hand, you may feel anxiously motivated but incapable of taking action. It is in the gap between motivation and execution that many forms of self-sabotage and self-doubt lie, and it is important to identify what thought processes intercept the pipeline to goal achievement. Finally, depression or dysthymia can lead to a sense of apathy. In these cases, lack of motivation is a symptom of low mood.
Whatever the new year brings for you, I hope it’s an adventure you’ll enjoy. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. The power in self-belief is unbreakable but you have to be ready to commit to that promise to yourself. And if you can’t, there’s alway next year.
Hope all your hopes and wishes come true in 2021.
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