Motivation is the difference between saying you’re going to do something, and actually doing it!
Motivation is a tricky concept, as it's something we all want, but it's not something we can rely on, as evidenced in the US & World Report, which found that around 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolutions, with most people losing their motivation in mid-February.
With motivation being linked to better well-being, improved performance, personal growth, and increased chances of achieving career success, it’s surely something that we should want to cultivate. But why do people lose motivation so quickly?
With over five years of coaching under my belt, these are the main reasons I’ve found:
When you doubt your ability to succeed in something, it’s normal to want to avoid doing it. This coping mechanism is referred to as Avoidance and is a common default for people who experience self-doubt. Whether you’re consciously or subconsciously avoiding something, it’s a killer of motivation.
People often lose motivation when they don’t see results as quickly as they’d like. Social media influencers and marketing can play a part in glorifying quick wins and creating unrealistic expectations for certain goals.
Motivation is a game of chance, so cultivating motivation requires you to create habits, behaviors, and strategies that support completing whatever it is you want to be motivated to do.
People often lose motivation due to fear - fear of failure, fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of success, fear of change, (I could go on!). Similar to self-doubt, fear of taking action can cause you to slip into avoidance mode and steamroll your motivation.
Not having a purpose
If you don’t attach meaning to what you’re trying to achieve, you won’t care about taking the action needed to achieve it. It won’t be enough to get you out of bed in the morning, to get outside on a rainy day, or to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Your purpose for doing something is the driving force behind your actions.
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to start or restart something after a break, these are my top science-backed tips to help fire you up:
It's been proven that visualizing ourselves doing what we want to do increases our desire. Get crystal clear on the action you must take, get comfortable, and visualize yourself doing it in as much detail as possible. As well as the visuals, feel the emotion of doing it - the excitement, the satisfaction, the pride; and focus on the positive outcome of doing it.
Habits & routine
Motivation often kicks in after we've started to do the thing we want to feel motivated to do, (not useful, I know). Because of this, you need to take action first by creating habits and routines that make the action second nature. Try linking the new habit to an existing habit to create a cue for your brain and body to act.
Having goals to work towards improves our performance in life and work, increases productivity, improves focus, provides clarity and purpose, and increases motivation levels!
Set goals and break them into smaller milestones so you have something to focus on and work towards every day.
Create a motivating environment
Motivation is an internal process, but we are multi-sensory beings. If you’re struggling to get going, play motivational music or listen to an inspirational podcast to help you get in the zone; and try changing your physical environment to one that better supports what you’re trying to do.
Find your ‘Why’
In my opinion, this is the most important ingredient for motivation! Motivation is most simply defined as wanting. This could be wanting change, wanting a specific result, wanting to feel something, and/ or wanting to have or do something. Your ‘Why’ is the reason you want to do what you do - your purpose.
A strong enough ‘Why’ can have the power to override feelings of fear and self-doubt because it forces you to put your ego aside and do the right thing for the greater vision.
Wherever you are on your motivation journey, remember these things:
Motivation is something everyone struggles with. Don’t judge yourself for feeling the struggle, it’s what helps you grow.
When times are tough, talk yourself through the situation like you would your best friend.
Give yourself grace and compassion for where you are now, and try to see this period as an exciting time of growth and transition.
Flowers don’t bloom overnight. Be patient and don’t get distracted by other people’s timelines.
Ashley Spencer is a High Performance Coach & Mentor based in Liverpool, UK. Ashley supports people in business with their performance, personal development, and well-being. She has a degree and a former 7-year career in event management. After experiencing burnout, anxiety, and panic attacks in her corporate role, she qualified as a health and fitness coach to help people prioritize their mental and physical health, and well-being. Her mission is to end burnout globally by supporting individuals and teams to create a healthier work/ life balance and improve workplace wellness. She was recently certified as an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Practitioner and is currently training to be a Strategic Life Coach to support people further.