Is motivation this elusive thing that just shows up out of nowhere and makes you get going? Do you need to wait to feel motivated in order to take action? The answer to both of those questions is no. Action precedes motivation. One small action leads to another small action, which leads to a positive reward, which then leads to motivation to receive that positive reward again. This creates a cycle of action>result>motivation and so on. You don't need to feel good to get going, you need to get going to feel good!
The simplest definition of motivation is wanting (Baumeister, 2016). We want a change in behavior, thoughts, feelings, self-concept, environment and relationships.
Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within because it is naturally satisfying to you. Contrast this with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a behavior in order to earn external rewards or avoid punishment.
Motivation and making a plan
How does making a plan for short term goals help with action and motivation? If you make a plan for small steps, you are more likely to follow through with the action. When you follow through with a small promise you make to yourself, you then feel accomplished and proud of yourself which feels really good. This creates a cycle of making a plan, keeping the promise, feeling good and doing it again.
Short term goals work better for uninteresting activities as they boost commitment by providing feedback on progress more often, which further reinforces the effort to persist (Reeve, 2015).
What I say to my clients is, "If you fail to plan, then plan to fail."
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. -Zig Ziglar
Steps to get motivated
First, identify what your goal is specifically. Then make a promise to yourself that you will do one small thing related to your goal today. What and when you are going to do is important when making your plan. Then do the thing! You will feel so great and accomplished! Next, just repeat! Don't make it complicated, it's simple, small steps lead to larger ones. It also helps to have support and accountability from someone who wants to see you succeed and reach your goals.
Stop waiting for tomorrow and start now with a small step!
Amy has spent her career helping others reach their health and fitness goals. "I hope sharing my knowledge and experience with others can help someone to live a healthier and more joyous life."