New Years Resolutions - Cultivating Motivation
Welcome to the new calendar year. This one feels different from years past. 2020 created (or maybe demanded) an opportunity to grow, acknowledging responsibilities as a citizen and as a member of our communities. In 2021, it is with maturity and humility that we can move forward and embrace change.
Did you make a New Year's Resolution? Many frame resolutions as an aspirational goal. We set intentions focusing on who we want to become, but if the destination's journey isn't straightforward, we can set ourselves up to fail.
This year we'd like to offer a different practice; instead of setting a resolution, accept the journey you're already on, then create a map of the best version of that journey. Do you want to create a healthier morning routine? Do you want to focus more on your physical health?
Start with a reflection of where you are now.
What have you learned so far on your journey with this aspect of your life? What have you tried before, and why didn't it provide the success you sought? By noticing where your journey begins, you can create more realistic milestones and success measures along the way.
Imagine where you want to be.
What does it feel like to have successfully integrated these habits and changes into your life?
Spending time imagining can be an invitation to be more honest with yourself, exploring your goals' deeper desires. Adrienne Marie Brown, the author of Emergent Strategies, explains the power of imagination when initiating change. In her book, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Brown states, "I believe that all organizing is science fiction - that we are shaping the future we long for and have not yet experienced."
Honesty is the best policy.
It is helpful to be honest about what your bad habits are costing you. Instead of claiming you're okay, counter your unhealthy beliefs. Sometimes this means learning to be in the discomfort of grieving, feeling stuck, not knowing, or being wrong. With these reflections, you can more accurately measure the distance between where you are now and where you want to go. Once you have clarity of the journey's duration, it becomes easier to break it into small steps, setting milestones along the way.
So how do you transform intent into action?
Motivation is essential for this next step. Motivation is about our internal desire to accomplish something important to us. Something to keep in mind is that motivation is finite. We don't wake up every day with the same inertia, so it is vital to cultivate the conditions where motivation can continue to flow. An intention does not manifest into a habit without action, so motivation must match a movement. For example, if you want to wake up earlier in the morning, form the habit of standing up when your alarm goes off. Setting small actions to do along the journey will help cultivate daily motivation and the process of flow.
Motivation versus procrastination.
Let's also look at the trade-off between motivation and procrastination. Procrastination can create a fight or flight effect on our bodies. By putting something off, we only feel motivated by the urgency or threat of something terrible happening if we don't complete it. There is no inherent reward in completing the task, only the avoidance of a negative consequence. Additionally, not meeting basic needs creates a feeling of being stuck. It's a signal. A lack of motivation usually means that there is a lack of exploration, curiosity, or joy. A key to motivation is to adjust the environment to make it just a little more enjoyable. For example, when you're on the journey of cultivating a healthier morning routine, develop pleasurable practices for your senses. By incorporating pleasure and awareness into your actions, you are more likely to stay motivated.
How can we bring motivation into our work lives?
We are often motivated by social incentives, immediate rewards, and positive reinforcement in groups and teams. These tend to create value sets that determine the company culture. But with work norms now being oriented towards Work From Home, it is crucial to understand your patterns of motivation.
"The working environment that you create will either appeal positively to your internal motivation, or it will be viewed negatively as something that de-motivates you."
Since joy activates motivation, here are some tips from Marie Kondo's book, "Joy at Work":
Create your workspace as a "zen-zone."
Signal the start of your workday - *This is an excellent time to recall where you are on the journey towards your goals.*
Use items intentionally.
Recognize what is urgent and schedule a time to address non-urgent tasks.
By orienting yourself to the process of change and incorporating actionable and joyful steps along the way, you can cultivate consistent motivation and reach your destination.
Coaching can be a great tool to initiate the practices we just described while supporting professional development. You can learn more about DCC's Coaching Services: https://davidcouperconsulting.com/coaching-training