My dear friends, in this past week alone, I’ve heard this line so many times from my clients, my mentees and even my partner. “I have so many things to do, but when I finally get down to it, I just don’t seem to be motivated to do it. How can I get motivated?” I can relate to this myself. Can you? How often do we feel guilty and bad about the lack of work we got done and worse about our own lack of motivation and drive?
If you are like most people, it’s a complete challenge to stay motivated for the long term. Even though we know logically what needs to happen, something pulls us off track. In my podcast a few weeks ago I spoke about time hijackers - distractions that take us away from taking massive action towards our goals or priorities. Now time hijackers and excuses make a great pair! Remember the whispers in our ears – lets just watch one more episode, let me exercise tomorrow, just one piece of cheesecake and then I’m back to being healthy, or I’ll just sleep for 30 minutes more and do that paper later. And as we all know, these whispers are very, very powerful!
We associate the cheats with pleasure and the actual task that needs to get done to pain. I can give you a recent example from my own life where excuses dominated my motivation to get a task done. For over a year, I had been meaning to clean out the clutter in my flat. Clutter from my kitchen, from my cupboards, from the bookshelves, from my daughter’s room. This project had been on my mind for months, but when I finally got down to it and made time, I just couldn’t find the motivation to get it done! In my mind it went – it’s not an immediate emergency. If I don’t do it now, there really are no major consequences. So my mind decides it’s not critical and therefore talks me out of doing it. Haven’t we all been here?
I had a massive Aha moment when I read Anthony Robbins’ book – Awake the Giant Within. His perspective is very interesting and I really want to share it with you.
He says – “One of the most important precepts about human behaviour and change is that at the most basic level, there are two forces that motivate people to do what they do: the desire to avoid pain or the desire to gain pleasure. This principle is what causes the ‘yo-yo’ pattern in some people: they go back and forth between taking action to create change and losing their drive to take any action at all. Change is never a matter of ability, it’s a matter of motivation. If change is a “should,” will people change? No. Change has to be not a should, but a MUST. To access leverage, you must help someone associate massive PAIN to not changing NOW, and massive PLEASURE to changing immediately.
The motivation is based on both pain AND pleasure. Pain is short-term motivation, but you need the pleasure side for long-term motivation. The truth is everyone in life has developed different strategies or patterns for getting out of pain and into pleasure. Thus, if we want to create permanent and consistent change, what we must do is develop a new set of patterns of how to get out of pain and into pleasure. In other words, in order to create lasting change, we must use pain to get people’s attention and motivate them to want to make the change, but then we must link pleasure to the new pattern to make it last.”
This is interesting isn’t it? So how can we use this concept of pain and pleasure to achieve motivation? Here’s something you can try.
- Think of a task that you need to complete. It can be something big or simply a task like mine (non-urgent like de-cluttering) but one you have been putting away for a long time.
- Take a sheet of paper and make two columns. On one side write ‘pain’ and on the other side ‘pleasure’
- Now list down all the reasons why it would be painful not to complete your task. Next write down the pleasure of achieving and completing your task. This is really important – Visualise achieving the task and feel the pain of not achieving the task.
This is what came up for me when I used the association of pain and pleasure to achieve motivation and take action with my task of de-cluttering.
PAIN of not completing the task: lack of storage, cupboards overflowing, can’t find what I want, spending way too much time daily sifting over things, lack of order, guilt…
PLEASURE of completing the task: freedom, space, order, saving time, giving away to charity to help other people make use of things I don’t want, joy of completion, opportunity to store only what I use…
I’ve not shared my entire list here, but I did a pretty detailed pain and pleasure list associated with the task. Do you see where I’m going with this? This may seem odd or tough to do at first but give it a shot. Take a look at your life and the areas where you feel less motivated to complete a task or goal. Like Anthony Robbins says – pain and pleasure will be at the root of it. Then try this exercise above and see how you can make pain and pleasure work for you rather than against you.
My friends, setting goals and making plans are necessary to achieve your dreams, goals and aspirations. But success ultimately depends on your ability to do your tasks consistently. One of the biggest benefits of having a life coach is that they help you stay motivated. Having an accountability partner and someone expecting you to do your homework rallies your motivation. Something about doing things “just for yourself” leaves you vulnerable to the opposite of motivation, which is being comfortable and indulging in instant gratification! So if you are looking to take your motivation to the next level and really get things done perhaps its time to invest in a life coach.
I'm Poornima Nair, Certified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Founder of Live Authentic Coaching. If you are curious about coaching, interested in being nurtured, inspired and pushed to your edge, to discover and create the relationships, career, lifestyle, finances you are longing for, please reach out to me for a taster of what great coaching does to foster the clarity, mindset, qualities and skills that will allow you to breakthrough.