Stress is a killer; not only does it cause actual death and health problems; it also eradicates our motivation to exist beyond our roles in society. Without an outlet to expel our daily aggravators, we become a flesh-colored shell ready to combust with negativity.
I have spent a lot of my life making excuses for my lack of motivation. There were always justifications I came up with that I believed they were the cause of my stress.
Naturally, we strive to get to the top; to be the best; to gain a victory. And while those are ambitious instincts, they hardly seem worth it when looking at the amount of tension we accumulate.
Motivation is the key to broadening your existence while still maintaining a stress-free lifestyle.
What is motivation? Why are some people capable of staying motivated while others seem to lack the ability to do so? It’s all in your head. Neuroscience explains that the reasoning behind motivation is partially laid out by genetics, but experiences also shape them.
While we know that some forms of motivation are genetic and also determined by our experiences in life, motivation is something we can learn as well. We can prepare our brains to focus on staying motivated through various activities and understanding the benefits.
One significant benefit is, motivation creates positive feelings and stimulates happiness. Thus, picking away at your stress.
Scientists have found the mechanism behind motivation. It’s dopamine; the hypothesis that dopamine is only associated with pleasure is false.
Using a brain mapping technique called positron emission tomography (PET scan), the researchers found that “go-getters” who are willing to work hard for rewards had higher release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in areas of the brain known to play an important role in reward and motivation, the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. On the other hand, “slackers” who are less willing to work hard for a reward had high dopamine levels in another brain area that plays a role in emotion and risk perception, the anterior insula.
Motivation varies depending on so many elements. Luckily, we can rewire our mental programs.
The healthiest way to stay motivated is to understand our objectives and set micro-goals. For the longest time, I confided motivation with stress. Let me explain,
I compelled myself to stay motivated on a task, such as writing. I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion because I assumed that was motivation. I was wrong; not only was I soaking in stress like a sponge, but I also began to hate writing because I lost the inspiration to write by forcing myself.
Like everything in life, there has to be a balance.
The best place to start in managing your motivation, and stress elimination, is to set micro-goals. Don’t assume you have to follow a 5-year plan and have a flourishing bank account and a Lexus, or you’re a failure. That’s the complete opposite when rewiring your brain to unearth motivation.
I have been the spur of my stress because I lacked the understanding of motivation, so instead of setting small goals, I would set massive goals. That’s not easy to do when you aren’t an inherently motivated person.
I set a goal once to save $50,000 by the end of the year and invest in real estate. Excellent plan; the only problem was that I was a highly stressed person who wasn’t capable of sticking to small tasks, let alone a giant one.
So I had to learn. And learning to change my abilities was difficult, but beneficial to my mental, physical, financial, and emotional growth. I started with micro-goals.
Start small; make goals that are easy to achieve without accumulating more stress.
- Get all the dishes done in one day.
- Finish the chapter in your book.
- Clean your bathroom.
- Get the garage organized.
When you start to fulfill small goals, your dopamine rises, and you feel accomplished. They may not be extravagant feats, but it’s the first stepping stone into creating a pattern of staying motivated. Even accomplishing minor objectives can eliminate stress.
Once you can stick to smaller goals, you can start to set little stress-relieving objectives as well. Staying motivated is one of the main components of alleviating stress.
Set a time each day to take just 10 minutes from work or chores and just relax. Just exist at that moment, no phone or external interference.
Tell yourself every night that you will relax in a bath, enjoy a glass of wine, anything to diminish stress.
Setting micro-goals for your well-being is also the beginning step to re-writing you’re mental format.
Much like micro-goals, changing your patterns is essential.
Jim Rohn once said, ‘Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.’
Habits are normal, satisfactory even. Waking up for work, cleanliness, and maintaining life are all habitually effective in existing. But changing habits can benefit you in other ways.
For example, I have a habit of waking up, getting my coffee, and watching tv. Nothing wrong with that, except that in the morning, I try and use that time for writing, but I fall into that habit.
So I altered my patterns to boost my level of motivation.
Now, I wake up, get my coffee, and head to my computer. At first, I was anxious and wanted to watch Netflix, but after time I gravitated towards writing in the morning. Not only did changing my patterns help me stay motivated to write, but it also helped lower my anxiety of ignoring a task.
You know, the feeling you get when you did nothing all day and wish you had motivated yourself to accomplish something. That’s why we have to create and alter our habits.
However, while habits promote personal growth, they can also be toxic, and the reason for the lack of motivation.
Habits prevent us from thinking, it’s a time and energy saving mechanism we set up. A routine to help us function. And it’s not always helpful.
We know that a habit cannot be eradicated – it must, instead, be replaced. And we know that habits are most malleable when the Golden Rule of habit change is applied: If we keep the same cue and the same reward, a new routine can be inserted. But that’s not enough. For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.
Here are some easy ways to start changing small habits that don’t inspire or benefit you.
- Ask yourself if you have something better to do with your time.
- Write a list of minor tasks that need to get done and replace small habits with those tasks – such as T.V., scanning social media, or anything else non-productive.
- Write a daily goal. E.g., Put laundry away.
- Prioritize. Writing out what needs to be done as a reminder.
Start small Just like micro-goals. You are trying to form a positive routine without becoming overwhelmed.
Ride the motivation wave
The wave is real! When the timing is just right, sometimes, we feel a burst of motivation. Embrace it. Motivation is essential in every aspect of our lives; every decision we make takes our inspiration or lack of motivation.
It’s human nature to have moments of self-doubt and even the loathing feeling of motivation. That’s stress blocking us from riding the motivation wave.
The ways I try and encourage myself to take advantage of motivated feelings are more habitable than they seem. I could be lying in bed watching tv and suddenly get an idea to redecorate my room. At first, my mind (stress) has me second-guessing myself. Eh, I don’t want to get up.
Ignore that counterproductive, stress-driven thought!
I push myself. And once I start with the task, I instantly feel gratification. Habitually, if you allow yourself to ride the motivation wave when it crashes upon your shore, it will become a routine. What’s good about that? It becomes normal for you to embrace motivation.
Eventually, you’ll create triggers for yourself: success triggers, and negative stimuli. Try and feed success triggers while eliminating the negative ones.
Success triggers are when you are triggered to embrace motivation. Here are some of my personal examples.
- Reading home magazines trigger me to clean, and organize my home.
- Watching documentaries trigger me to research and expand my knowledge of the world.
- Taking a bath triggers me to understand self-care, and much needed me time.
Those are just a few, but they have become natural triggers that induce my motivational drive.
Negative triggers are things that make you ignore motivation. Here are a few of mine.
- Television. Watching tv triggers my want for excessive lounging.
- Social media is a trigger. It causes me to ignore chores and scroll aimlessly.
- Being upset or stressed murderes my motivation as well.
Another exciting way to understand motivation is to expand your curiosity.
It would seem logical to begin research on motivation by examining the thing that motivates – the end goal, the desired outcome, the carrot on the end of the stick. -Dr. R. Alison Adcock-
Curiosity is what enables us to learn. It is one of the significant roles in motivation. After all, can you think of any time your curiosity hasn’t been the reason for any motivated task?
Curiosity is defined as a need, thirst or desire for knowledge. The concept of curiosity is central to motivation. The term can be used as both a description of a specific behavior as well as a hypothetical construct to explain the same behavior. Berlyne (1960) believes that curiosity is a motivational prerequisite for exploratory behavior. The term curiosity is used both as a description of a specific behavior as well as a hypothetical construct to explain the same behavior.
What I have started to do, is push myself to embrace my curious nature. I started small. What are the healthiest foods in the world? So, I researched it. And my curiosity led to beimg motivated to eatimg healthier.
Try and explore subjects you’re interested in. Not feeling adequate in life is beyond stressful. It’s why stress-free people are always on the go, still curious about what the world has to offer. They are motivated to learn and grow and be a product of what they conjure up in life. They don’t have a secret potion; they aren’t better than you or I; they are simply motivated.
We can all achieve motivation.
The hardest part about staying motivated is the ability to recognize the benefits of its long term.
Yeah, I did the dishes, and wrote a few pages in my book; not a big deal.
Wrong! It is a big deal, especially if you aren’t naturally a motivated person. It’s a process. From birth, it takes us 20+ years to finally begin to understand life – the biggest mystery of all.
Motivation is life.
Staying motivated depends on many factors. One being, avoid problematic occurrences that will hinder motivation.
The results of the study suggest that people may have better luck sustaining motivation in the late stages if they focus on what to avoid in order to reach their goals. For those who are trying to save money for a house or a trip, for example, initially it may work to pursue positive saving strategies like getting a higher paying job or investing money. Later in the process, focus on avoidance strategies like going out to dinner less often or forgoing expensive purchases.
Here are some of the ways I stay motivated.
- I set a time limit for social media; limiting my time allows me to focus on other tasks.
- I leave myself motivational notes on my mirror to trigger my curiosity.
- I sign up for daily/weekly newsletters from topics that interest and speak motivation.
- I set micro-goals for myself daily.
- I allow myself to fail without harsh criticism.
- I focus on spending time with like-minded individuals.
Those are just a few, and I’m confident in my ability to follow them. Since I have begun to train my brain to stay motivated, I have regained my love for learning. I stay stimulated daily by governing what I will allow in my life.
Stress and lack of motivation have kept me from living, working, end existing.
Now, I write daily; I have maintained and expanded my education, and I have started a system to allow me to reach any goal I set in life. I am confident and eager to stay motivated.
Once you start to understand and appreciate motivation, you will open up a whole new level to life.