#4 – Why we lose motivation and how to fix it.
When we lose motivation we immediately start procrastinating, this is one of the reasons we deliver last minute, usually against the pressure of a deadline.
In many instances, where there isn’t accountability for the task i.e. at the workplace, we abandon the task altogether. That unused gym membership, the business idea still in “research” mode long after we should have started or the unfinished home decoration, these are all evidence of losing the battle with motivation.
On the dads like us podcast, Drew and I discuss the rush of adrenalin when starting new projects. We don’t struggle with starting, our faults lay with losing interest quickly. As our enthusiasm and motivation wanes, we seek the ‘adrenalin high’ of another project, so move on, very quickly, rarely giving the current project time to develop and grow. Impatience is our flaw because impatience is the achilles heel to long term progress.
Subconsciously, impatience provides a ‘get out of jail free’ card, the ultimate excuse to quit early. We convince ourselves (and others) that it didn’t work even though we tried. In truth, we are hiding from potential failure.
Much easier to say we started, tried and moved on than put all our efforts behind an idea only for it to fail. Impatience similar to procrastination with our goals, it’s fear clothed in excuses.
So how do we tackle losing motivation? How do we get the tasks done when we don’t have a euphoric, high five, fist-pumping feeling? Firstly we need to look at desire and expectations.
Desire and realistic expectations
Nothing says sayonara to motivation quicker than a task we deem pointless, we must believe there is value in doing the work. This mean, the first step is to assess if it’s worth doing. However there are situations where tasks must be done, let’s take laundry. Safe to say, very few people will get excited at the prospect of doing the laundry, but it’s a necessary task.
There is the option to outsource it and we have to weigh-up that cost against our time. This approach needs to be applied to any task whether it’s an accountant for our business or a gardener (gardening is a task I avoid as much as possible), we have to determine how it impacts our desire and whether we will procrastinate. So we’ve determined we have the desire to complete the task, now what are the expectations. We notoriously set high expectations when we start a project along with unrealistic time frames.
The irony is, humans are terrible estimators we always expect things to happen sooner or be more successful in the short term. When this doesn’t occur we become despondent, motivation falls and we struggle to persist with the project. This is where the serial starters begin looking for the next idea train to jump on. Instead of ditching the current project, to keep motivated we need the second ingredient…
Routine and consistency
Yes, it doesn’t sound exciting but is a necessary ingredient. It comes up in many guises, we call it ‘turning up’, getting through the dip, stick with it etc. In short, it’s being consistent and that requires a routine, a regular schedule. Our motivation will rise and fall due to a number of factors in our lives, but as we stay consistent on our project and our longer-term strategy, it will be easier to be motivated to complete the tasks as we are not expecting immediate gratification.
When it comes to approaching a goal, we can take one of two approaches:
1. The Squeeze-it-in
We decide to fit it in as best we can, here and there when possible. If it doesn’t fit in then so be it. This is the approach the majority of us take. We sign up to a gym and go on the days we can and when we can fit it in. Initially, we make good progress and motivation is high. Then as our body adapts, progress slows, frustration begins and eventually, motivation disappears. We begin missing days, then weeks and eventually stop going.
2. The scheduled
This is the approach we all know works best. It sounds dull, right? Routine sounds like the guy turning up to suck the fun out of everything we do. All that doesn’t matter, we are smarter now and know routine is necessary. It doesn’t mean we never miss a schedule or have to rework it around life changes, it simply means ensuring we stick to whatever is the regular schedule for progress.
Motivation will get us started on any project, hobby or aspiration, only routine will keep us turning up and this is where we throw in one last important ingredient…
The magic ingredient
Discipline is the magic ingredient that makes any goal achievable
Adding discipline to routine is like adding sprinkles to the ice cream or bbq sauce to chicken wings, it pulls it all together. Discipline will make sure we turn up time and again at the routinely allotted schedule to work on our project, to exercise, to practise the drums to get anything done.
Defining what we want to do and having a desire to achieve it, added with a regular schedule and being disciplined to consistently turn up and work at it, this is how we keep motivated.