So many people ask me about motivation. They want to know how they can find self-motivation and how they can motivate clients they are coaching, but I have a secret I’m going to share with you today:
Motivation is temporary. It doesn’t last! And this means it’s definitely not what you’re looking for. Basing your motivation and attitude on external factors that you don’t have control over keeps you running in circles.
So, what’s the alternative?
Intrinsic motivators are the answer, and they will help you build momentum in your life rather than waiting around for motivation to strike—because it won’t. If you’re waiting for motivation, you will be waiting a long time. Intrinsic motivators put you in control, and they lead to long-lasting results.
Continue reading to learn the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, as well as the simple steps you can take today to begin building momentum toward living the life your soul intended.™
What Causes Lack of Motivation?
Lack of motivation develops when we rely too heavily on extrinsic motivators instead of intrinsic ones. Motivation is a broad term that carries a lot of guilt for many of us. I’m feeling unmotivated; when will my motivation strike? Why are other people more motivated than me? What does feeling motivated even mean? WHY DON’T I FEEL MOTIVATED?
I’ve felt the same way! 🙈
The real honest truth is that motivation is a lie. Society, weight loss programs, online content, and self-described gurus have a lot to say about “finding motivation,” but the truth is: You don’t just find motivation. You’re not going to happen upon it one day out of the blue—no matter how much you wish, hope, or pray for motivation.
True motivation is built—it’s not a miracle waiting to strike. If you’re waiting for motivation, you will always have a reason to delay getting started.
I’ll be able to do that when I…
I’ll get started once someone else…
I’ll be ready when I get…
Do any of those phrases sound familiar? Thoughts like these give you a reason to put your life on hold. They have you thinking something magical (in this case motivation) is right around the corner. When you’re waiting for outside factors, you surrender control over how you feel and where your life is headed.
When most people talk about motivation, they’re talking about extrinsic motivators, such as hiring a fitness coach to keep your health and exercise routine on track or getting your teens to do their chores by rewarding them with an allowance.
But the problem with extrinsic motivators is that they are short-lived. How do you stay motivated constantly when the motivation is temporary? If you’re looking for extrinsic motivators to inspire you to get you off the couch or to start that business you’ve always dreamed of or to finally clean out the garage, you’re searching for a temporary fix.
Now, don’t get me wrong, those temporary fixes can support you in the short term, but only for the short term. For example, hiring a fitness coach can be a significant first step. Still, without intrinsic motivations, you will probably quit or skip some sessions, telling yourself it’s too expensive or you don’t have the time. Your forward movement will stall without combining intrinsic and external motivators
So what’s the real reason you’re spending too much time on the couch? What’s so scary about starting your own business? What’s holding you back from cleaning out the garage?
What is keeping you from completing these tasks or getting started on your dreams?
What’s holding you back is fear—and it’s much more complex than a simple lack of motivation.
Our fears are ingrained deep within us, and you’re not always as aware of them as you may think. So, you keep putting off starting your side hustle business. Why? Are you afraid your ideas might not succeed? Are you afraid of what other people might think? Do you worry that you won’t have enough time for your loved ones and, in turn, they won’t appreciate you anymore?
A rewards-based system of extrinsic motivators will not cut it. They will leave you feeling worse. At Fearless Living, we focus on intrinsic motivation because you actually have control over it.
Extrinsic motivators might get your kids to bed on time or keep your employees from being late, but they won’t help you break through to the root of your behavior patterns.
Looking deep within yourself will get you away from the excuses that are so easy to fall back on. Remember when we talked about “I’ll do it when…” and “I’ll get started when I get…” These are the excuses we tell ourselves so that we can keep hiding behind a waiting game of “ifs”.
Intrinsic motivators are within your power; they don’t revolve around other people, the weather, money, or anything else that’s outside your circle of control.
Intrinsic motivation occurs when you do things just for you—not for other people, not because you think you have to, and not because you’ll earn some sort of reward. You do it for yourself because it’s central to your identity. People who are intrinsically motivated don’t get up in the morning thinking about all they HAVE to do; they think about all they CAN do.
Finding motivation within yourself is not always easy, but next, I’ll share some simple steps that will help you get started.
Are You Willing?
Willingness is a critical part of Fearless Living. Willingness is what it takes to find your intrinsic motivation, radically shift learned behaviors, develop a new habit, and build momentum toward living the life your soul intended™.
Before asking yourself if you are motivated, ask yourself if you are willing.
Are you willing to practice building momentum one small step at a time?
Are you willing to practice showing up for yourself?
Are you willing to take your life into your own hands?
Are you willing to practice suspending your disbelief to discover what’s possible?
No amount of external motivation will have an effect without willingness. I can tell you how to build better relationships with the people you love. I can tell you how to practice self-love. I can tell you how to follow the path of your dream career. But no amount of advice I or anyone else can give you will matter if you are not willing.
So, are you willing?
I myself was not willing for many years of my life. I spent years making excuses for myself, and even though I was going through a very hard time in my life, the excuses made it worse. I was too afraid to put myself out there and too afraid to even try because I thought I might fail.
I thought I couldn’t start my own business until I had a bunch of fancy degrees. I thought I couldn’t find a partner until I lost weight. I thought I couldn’t quit drinking until I got over the trauma of my past. All of that was completely wrong. I was waiting for some magical force of nature to turn my life around when that power was already within me.
What changed? I stopped waiting for all of the pieces to fall into place and started showing up for myself. Day by day, I showed up for Rhonda. In other words: I practiced being willing. And that’s what I want for you, too!
Learn more about the importance of being willing and how to set clear intention statements in my article: Overcoming Self-Doubt: Why You’re Stuck and How to Get Unstuck.
Want to Stay Motivated? Build Momentum!
We’ve talked a lot about the bigger picture of motivation, but what about the small stuff? How do you find the will to complete day-to-day tasks? How do you start that book you’ve always wanted to write and actually stick with it after a few weeks? How do you bring yourself to clean out that closet down the hall that’s packed with stuff?
As difficult as finding intrinsic motivation can be, there’s another secret strategy I want to let you in on. The secret behind getting anything done is building momentum, and to build momentum, you first have to start. But don’t worry; building momentum starts with taking the tiniest step—such a small step that no matter how unproductive, lazy, or uninterested you may be feeling, you can easily accomplish this one small thing.
When I say small task, I mean it! What’s one thing you can accomplish in 2-5 minutes? Choose something no longer than that. Your tiny task might be taking out the garbage or sending an email to inquire about possible new career opportunities. Or it could be doing something just for you for a change and signing up for the Fearless Living Training Program.
Think small. If you have a task that’s way too big to tackle today, break it down and divide it into smaller pieces. What’s one thing you CAN do right now? Could you water one of your plants in 2 minutes? Could you pick up 10 things around your house in 5 minutes? Could you prep one healthy snack, like stuffing a couple baby carrots in a baggie, for your lunch tomorrow in 1 minute?
The magic of momentum is that it builds. It doesn’t matter that you began with a small and seemingly insignificant task—it’s enough to get the ball rolling. You have to start somewhere.
After you complete a 2-5 minute task, pick another 2-5 minute task. Push forward to continue building that momentum. Sure, there are some days that momentum just won’t be sparked no matter how hard you try. BUT, while you were trying to ignite your momentum, you were still able to complete a few small tasks. Plus, you finally took a step in the right direction—and that’s what’s important!
Do what you can the best you can when you can. – Rhonda Britten
How to Stay Motivated in 5 Tips
Now that you know that intrinsic motivation is what you’re going for, here are 5 tips to keep you motivated
Tip 1: Ask Yourself: What Kind of Person Do I Want to Be?
Whenever I’m in a public bathroom, I practice my free throw by taking that wadded-up paper towel I’ve wiped my hands with and tossing it into the trash. Then, if I miss the “basket,” I pick it up and throw it in the garbage. That may seem silly, but I’ve been in many restrooms, and paper towels are piling up near the trash can.
I take the time to pick it up and put it in the wastebasket because I want to be the kind of person who respects myself and others. If I don’t do it, it creates a bathroom that no one wants to visit. It harms the reputation of the establishment. Every time I take a few seconds to do this, I am proud of myself. I am living by my values. I am practicing self-respect.
What kind of person do you want to be?
Do you want to be the kind of person who follows through or gives up? Do you want to leave the trash on the floor for others to pick up or respect yourself and others enough to pick up your own mess?
Do I always want to pick up that waded paper towel? No. But I always do. That’s how you live by your values and respect yourself. You do things even if you don’t feel like it because you want to be the kind of person who does.
Knowing what kind of person you want to be will reveal what matters to you and what you value, giving you a clear path forward.
Tip 2: Get Clear on Your Intention
Too often, we do things because we feel like we “should,” but the problem with those “shoulds” is they drain your energy. Shoulds are very different from living by your values. Shoulds are based on what you fear others will think or say if you don’t do something.
I invite you to create an Intention Statement to support you in staying focused and on track.
Reminding yourself WHY you’re taking that action and being sure to tie it to your values makes it a lot easier to take that first small step, like picking up the trash around the garbage.
Be sure to use the stem sentence: I am willing to practice…
Adding “practice” and “willing” to any statement automatically makes any action more doable.
Tip 3: Know Your Pace
When I’ve been at a frantic pace for a while or finished some deep work, rest is called for. That rest may be puttering around the kitchen, daydreaming while lying on the hammock, or taking a mid-afternoon nap.
We aren’t machines. We live, breathe, love, try, fail, and dream. Part of honoring our humanity is listening to the needs of our body and paying attention to its natural pace.
I’ve been tracking how I spend my time using our Daily Training Manual. I do this whenever I want to increase my awareness. I discovered that my natural pace is one week on and one week off. If I’m on fire one week, I need to relax and have more space to simmer and daydream with fewer deadlines the following week.
As I schedule my tasks, meetings, and appointments, I pay attention to my pace. I do my best to have one week heavy and the following week light. You may find you like to pile on the tasks for three weeks in a row and play the fourth week.
Knowing your natural pace will remove guilt and stop you from blaming yourself for being less than a machine.
Tip 4: Change Your Goal to Momentum
The word “motivation” trips me up. So instead of focusing my attention on being motivated, I focus on building momentum. With each action I take, based on my values and priorities, soon, the wind is at my back, and things are naturally easier to do.
When you find yourself saying, “I need to get motivated,” instead, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do to build momentum?”
Shifting your language is one of the most powerful acts you can take on your behalf to propel you forward to live the life your soul intended™.
And be sure to pay attention to how you feel when you want more motivation. Are you feeling helpless, powerless, or frustrated? Use those feelings to become more aware of how you are treating yourself.
Is your life and are your actions aligned with who you want to be? Are you speaking up and asking for what you want? Are you giving your power away to others so that you have someone to blame when life doesn’t work out? Check on the quality of your relationships and review how well you’re caring for your needs.
Most people want to be motivated because we want to feel alive, so if you focus on feeling alive and building momentum, motivation will take care of itself.
Tip 5: Decide to Take One Daily Action
(Yep. I’m repeating this one since it’s so important.)
Water one plant. You don’t have to do more than one plant, even if all your other plants are wilting around you. For instance, grabbing a glass of water and watching the leaves come to life for one plant may inspire you to grab another glass of water. But listen up. You do not have to water the second plant.
Or if stuff a baggie with carrots for a healthy snack, you may find yourself deciding to grab the yogurt too. You could send one email and may choose to keep answering the ones you’ve put off answering. It starts with ONE step.
Let momentum move you forward by only focusing on the first and smallest action.
By the way, what do writers say is the hardest part of the writing process? Sitting in the chair, that’s what—the first step. If I sit in a chair and stare at my closed computer, I will more than likely open it and then more than likely will pull out a clean word document. What happens then? I am more likely to write. But I gotta sit down first (or stand if you have one of those fancy standing desks.)
Find Intrinsic Motivation With Fearless Living
Taking one step, any step, toward living the life you actually want to live is enough. One step is all it takes. Learning how to focus on intrinsic motivators instead of external ones takes time and patience, but you will get the hang of it the more you put time into understanding your own fears, needs, and boundaries.
Fearless Living can help. My 10-week Fearless Living Training Program is based on decades of learning how to crack the secret code to fear, including all of the fears that keep us caught up worrying about the outside world. We can’t control the outside world, but we can control how we react to outside factors.
With the Fearless Living course, you’ll learn how to treat yourself with compassion, identify your core fears, build self-confidence, find intrinsic motivation, and so much more. Let’s get started!