How do I find my motivation? Finding a way to achieve your dreams, your goals, your ambitions can sometimes seem next to impossible. This blog introduces some primary considerations for you to look at when you’re at your best and at your worst. A “start here” if you will
The blog introduces :
- Your Reward System in your brain.
- Visualising your Motivations
- Taking your first actions to helping your motivations
- Sense checking your motivation
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Your reward system
What is a reward system?
Motivational speakers always talk about knowing what is your “why?” Continue to “grind”. They’re right. It works.
For those who aren’t athlete’s, sports people or working to a physical challenge it can sometimes be difficult to recognise a way forward. The same system applies but if you understand yourself it makes it easier to put it all in context. Good news is there’s a solution for everyone.
Modern science looks into your brain. In your brain you have a reward system. The good news is that everyone has one. What you need to learn to do is work with it.
What if some said, if you think hard you can move your leg. You think and suddenly your leg moves. You might think… how did that happen. Your brain sent a signal and it moved.
So if you have a reward centre, when was the last time you asked it to do something for you. Or do you just hope it kinda kicks in and makes you happy?
Motivation and Rewards
Motivation is defined as “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.”
For most people feeding their reward system is where their motivation comes from.
Some rewards are bigger than others.
Not all rewards are pleasurable. As the wiki article above explains e.g., money does not elicit pleasure unless this response is conditioned.
What does that mean? You gotta want something and then everything you do towards that goal, then your brain will reward you. Money itself doesn’t make you happy but the things you buy with it do, therefore money makes you happy. So your reward system rewards you when you make money.
To motivate someone, including yourself, you need to talk to your reward system and identify what’s going to cause it to reward you. Unlike any other system your reward system will help you when you’ve chosen a goal.
Visualising your motivations
A jigsaw is made up of pieces. A picture is a solid image.
Why is doing a jigsaw fun? if you want the picture… buy the picture. When you can’t buy the picture you have to make it yourself.
If you get a reward from challenge then you will buy the jigsaw and not the picture. Even if the picture is instantly purchasable it does not have the rewards.
You know when you start a jigsaw there is a picture in there. Usually a big picture. It’s going to take time to get there. The world may conspire to stop you finishing it. A piece missing, you run out of time, something distracting and everything you haven’t thought of.
Imagine your perfect picture, the picture you would love to be in. A picture worth having.
So the euphoria of success is dependent on you finishing the picture? Nope. Seeing your jigsaw become a picture is reward that you’re getting where you want to be. This is often referred to as “enjoying the journey”
Do a jigsaw… how do feel when a big chunk of a 1000 piece jigsaw comes together for you?
You need to commit to your jigsaw. Hence before you start make sure it’s a picture you really really want.
As soon as you have attained your picture you’re going to pick another picture to keep feeding your reward system.
Actions to take
Where should I start?
Start simple. Take a piece of paper and something to write with. Something you like writing with, so if you prefer pencil use that instead of a crayon or pen.
What pictures do you want to be in? Imagine your that perfect picture.
Write on your page “My motivations are: …”
Stare at it mentally and stare at it hard. Imagine the picture.
The answers to whether “I want this” or not, is in that one picture. You’re actually instructing your brain. This is what I want and I want a reward when I work towards this.
What should it look like when you’re done?
My personal motivations are: I want to
- Make my parents proud (regardless of if they see my actions or not)
- Help people (as I have already been given so much)
- Leave the world a better place for having been in it
I often had a lot more on the page when I was finished but these were the ones I really wanted to achieve. There is no right or wrong to this process, it’s a starting point.
How we achieve or work towards these ideal pictures is the beautiful tapestry of life, for better or for worse.
So take your current job, your current project, your current team, your current situation, is this what you want? Is this your motivation. Write down the words that help you see your perfect picture.
This exercise happens many times in your life so it’s worth learning how to do it.
I can’t see a picture
This happens. Far too regularly unfortunately so here’s a go to back up list to get the process working.
- I am going to make my bed every day for a month. What will it feel like to face my bed every evening with it perfectly made?
- I am going to exercise 5 out of 7 days this week. How will I feel knowing I’ve done that after working out on that 5th day?
- I am going to learn to play a piece of music on the piano? What will I feel when I can say… wow I just played that?
- I am going to clean my room? Works for adults and children. What will it feel like to look at my room clean?
These are all small goals. Short term. You need to see this process works. I start here almost once a month. Where can you get a win so that your reward system rewards you? Don’t start with impossible huge wins, as they’re not going to happen quickly.
Pick smaller ones till you get into the process. This is like learning to move your leg. It’s easy but have you ever watched a baby trying to learn to walk. Take it easy on yourself to start.
Being captain of your own ship
Firstly and most importantly. Well done.
It may not seem to you like much but you’ve actually accomplished a lot. You need to start training your reward system to give you a reward for getting your life, your motivations and ambitions in order. Say thanks to your brain and get it to reward you. Tiny but important.
Somewhere in your head you’ve visualised what you want, now how do we work towards it.
Now, park all your wonderful pictures for a second. Let’s make another story in our head for a second. Imagine you’re the captain of a ship. Visualise it. See it in your head.
The crew come up to you and ask something. “Where are we going captain?”
The expectant faces looking up at you. Asking you for direction. Looking for guidance. Seeking something to go towards.
So what are you going to say to them?
If you don’t know where you’re going, how can anyone else follow you, let alone yourself?
So look down at that piece of paper where you wrote “My motivations are” and pick a first destination for everyone.
Congratulations you’ve taken the biggest, hardest, most daunting step of your life. May not seem like it but you’ve just shaped your future.
So if you choose a big destination, “I want to be President of the USA” what do you need to do? As an Irish man I can’t achieve that but is there anything similar that might be just as euphoric for me to achieve.
Don’t discuss your motivation with anyone else. Friends, family and colleagues can be the biggest distractions on your journey. Some for positive reasons, they want to protect you and save you pain. Some for negative reasons, you’re reinforcing you can and they can’t.
This is your jigsaw. The picture you want. So you have to see it. You are choosing it and no one else is going to stop you getting it.
As part of your journey you may want to change your picture. You may want to add to it or life may make you change it completely. Never forget your picture. You chose it for a reason.
Do not expect the jigsaw to be easy to finish. If it was easy to finish the picture, you are not going feed your reward system. Jim Carey encapsulates it very well at the start of this audio track when he states “I’ve often said that I wish people could realize all their dreams and wealth and fame, so that they could see that it’s not where they’re gonna find their sense of completion.”.
So where next?
This discussion will continue… there are a series of blogs and direct action which I’ll be publishing on this blog. I’ll link them as they’re written or you can use the category “Motivation” to follow along.
So you have your destination, how do you get there?
I am going to live up to my own motivations, I would like to help you. Get in touch and I will help in whatever way I can.