When I tell you that getting motivated is simple… do you believe me? Probably not. More than likely you have goals that are taking longer to achieve than you planned or ambitions that are sitting on the hypothetical shelf collecting dust because you’re just not motivated enough to actually do anything about them. And while we’re doing a bit of honest self-reflection here… there’s probably even a bunch of goals you’ve just plain given up on over the years because your motivation hasn't got you over the line.
So... What is motivation?
Motivation is your reason for doing something. It’s the ‘why’ behind what you want to do and how you plan to do it. Simon Sinek, author and world renown thought leader, is the trailblazer of ‘find your why’ terminology. It’s a critical concept that pinpoints the catalyst for motivation as the ‘why’ that sits at the core of it all. You can watch his TEDx talk here.
The main cause of inaction
One of the main causes of inaction is a disconnection from your ‘why’. When you’re not connected to the greater ‘why’ behind ‘what’ you want to achieve there’s a fair chance that you’ll keep choosing the comfort of inaction over the (even momentary) discomfort of action. The self-protective present-self will keep winning out over your more strategic future-self every time if that’s the case. This is a philosophy Tony Robbins explains really well, watch Tony's video here.
If your why isn’t compelling enough it’s down to one of two reasons.
Either you haven’t actually stopped to consider what the greater purpose of achieving your goal is and how that's specific and unique to you in your desire for your future, or;
You know why your goal is deeply important to you... but you keep putting yourself off by focusing on the momentary discomforts of the process which stops you from taking action for the long term (a huge topic for another day! For now we'll focus on reason 1 so that 2 doesn't become a concern for you!)
Not all ‘whys’ are made equal
Now… there are ‘whys’ and there are ‘whys’. I have a lot of coaching clients who can quickly tell me off the top of their heads why they want to achieve a certain goal. Let’s take the timeless classic of weight loss for example. Typically these clients want to lose weight to improve their outward appearance, hoping this will make them feel more confidence and ultimately make them happier. Why do they come to see me instead of just doing it? Often the case is that the discomfort of not having their favourite indulgences or heading to the sweat box of a gym in the middle of summer is more of a deterrent than achieving their goal is motivating for example. Because – their idea of what’s motivating them (their why) is surface level. I love these clients because when we dig deeper - we always find gold! The gold in this case? Unique, specific and compelling motivation.
Unlocking compelling motivation
When I dig a little deeper with clients I discover so many other, far more compelling reasons for them to want to achieve their goals. Unlocking the motivation that’s unique to the individual is critical. You can’t be wanting to achieve something based on a societal expectation that you don’t actually care for, or because someone else might like you more. You need to do this for YOU and you need to be deeply connected to your reason ‘why’. Another factor that makes for a compelling 'why' is a healthy focus on how it will positively impact the lives of those around you as well.
One of my clients had the realisation, through coaching, that she actually wanted to lose weight so she could add to the years of her life and experience more of her grandkids growing up into adults – not because she felt she had to look a certain way or fit into a certain size.
Another client wanted to be able to run around and play with her kids instead of watching, exhausted and sluggish, from the park seat.
And another client wanted to safe guard herself from serious health implications that other obese members of her family were suffering from, she didn’t want to continue to live in fear like a sitting duck – she wanted to be proactive about her health and give herself the best quality of life possible.
Personalised over generic
Now it might just be me… but in reading these examples I can see and even feel that they’re far more personalised and compelling reasons to be healthier than the initial surface level motivation people think of for weight loss. I’m not saying that there are right or wrong motivators, I’m merely challenging my clients to discover why the concept of weight loss is so important to them specifically and what achieving weight loss will really truly give them that they’re missing now. This is where the gold is. It’s in the self-exploration that clients rarely give themselves the space and time to do - but coaching provides the perfect opportunity for facilitated self-exploration and personal growth.
I know for a fact these deeper motivators were compelling, because these clients are now enjoying the fruit of their success. Yes - they’re all slimmer, but the weight loss has come as a secondary win to that of the compelling ‘why’ behind their goals. Between them, these clients had tried for years to lose weight, but the thing is – it was never about how they looked. It was only ever about how they wanted to experience their life and loved ones. In the past they just hadn’t dug deep enough to discover their compelling reason ‘why’ so the discomfort of the changes they needed to make easily derailed their attempts at success. Their current-self kept winning out over their future-self.
Are you ready to find the gold?
As a Life Coach it’s literally my job to get clients deeply connected to why their goal is important to them. Once they discover it, I have no doubt they will achieve their goal, whatever it may be, because when the reason why is specific and deeply compelling… there’s true commitment and true motivation to take action. And results follow action.
If you have a goal you’re ready to dust off and tackle, then send me an email – I’m here to help!
Steph Edmunds is SESC's incredibly passionate, well experienced Certified Professional Life Coach based in Launceston, Tasmania - coaching across Australia and the world. You can contact Steph directly to make coaching inquiries or follow SESC on Facebook for regular doses of personal success insights and motivation.