This is the third and final part of our mini-series looking at questions around the theme of change. In the first episode, we explored the signs and signals that tell us something has changed or is ready to change. Last time we thought about how to take change from a hypothetical possibility to an embodied reality. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, we are thinking about maintaining motivation when we’re in the messy chaos of change.
You know what needs to change. You’ve chosen how you’d like to approach this season of change. But how do you stay motivated when the initial surge of energy is absorbed into everyday life again?
These ideas came out of our Haven Theme Kota at the start of September. They are not all relevant and appropriate for everything and everyone. But some might stir new insights and open up horizons so that more creative options can occur to us down the line.
What Is Motivation?
Motivation comes in different shapes, sizes and from a range of sources. It’s a feeling, an energy, an inner spark. But it’s also something that comes from external sources. It grows in connection with other people. It is broader than our individual energy and will.
When The Motivation Wears Off
At the start of the summer I had a painful gout attack. My motivation to do whatever it took to avoid it ever happening again was very strong. It helped me identify some habits that I could tweak to hopefully lessen the chance of future attacks. But a few months on and my motivation has shifted. I can remember that it was painful, however, I can’t sense the pain directly. The urgency has dissipated because it has moved from my body.
There is a sense of freedom in this because I am choosing rather than reacting. But there is also a chance that I forget about the changes I wanted to make. So, how do we stay motivated when that urgency wears off? That’s what we’re exploring in this episode.
In our discussion, we talked about a few micro-motivations that we can build into our awareness in everyday life. These are simple ways to stay connected with possibility and our reasons that underpin the direction we want to move in.
Deb Dana talks about these small points of sparkle that give us a surge of positive energy. Momentary connections with something outside or within us make us feel a sense of wonder, calm, or excitement.
Even if the change feels scary and big, we might find glimmers in it. Even if the change is unwanted, maybe there is something within that has prompted a feeling of connection and gratitude.
We can use physical objects that remind us of the journey we’re on, or things that keep us calm and connected along the way.
Certain textures, smells, or tastes might give us a kick of motivated energy and connect the present with the future we are forever moving towards.
We can use simple prompts that remind us to do something that connects us with the bigger picture. For example, write three words about what you can see, hear, and smell in this moment. Or take a photo of whatever is to the left of you. Or take three slow breaths as you wait for the kettle to boil.
These prompts don’t need to be directly relevant to your broader goals. Rather, they can help shift states and move into a more open and creative spirit at any moment.
How Do You STAY Motivated?
It’s one thing feeling motivated to change, it’s another thing staying motivated once the novelty wears off or you lose touch with that initial sensation.
Here are some of the things we came up with in our Haven Hive Kota Brainstorm.
Stop Trying to be Motivated
We can sometimes put too much importance on feeling motivated. Just like a seed grows in the dark out of view, changes often happen accidentally and inadvertently when we’re not looking. The danger of believing that we need to feel motivated is we end up overlooking the momentum and growth that occurs when we get out of the way and stop trying to force things.
Accountability comes in different shapes, sizes, and flavours. It can be really helpful once we figure out the type that works best for us.
We might find motivation alongside other people who support with presence, encouragement, and connection, and without pressure or critique. Maybe you like accountability that gives you a sense of responsibility to others.
Access To Resources
It’s hard to stay motivated when we don’t have the materials, resources, and tools to carry out the task at hand. But this can often happen. If progress is constantly derailed by a quest for resources, our motivation level for the focal point will drop. It becomes more work than it needs to be. Motivation increases when we have good boundaries (time and energy) and access to the tools and resources we need to hit the ground running when our attention turns to the project in front of us.
Leave The Option To Quit On The Table
We might assume that motivation increases if we feel like a particular path is our only safe option. But this might be a recipe for failure, because if our nervous system has a perception of being trapped, it will respond to that threat rather than moving positively towards the desired outcome. By leaving the option to quit open to us, we will likely think less about quitting. Knowing it’s an option is enough to enjoy the freedom to focus on what matters instead.
As we spoke about in the episode on celebration, motivation is grown through regular micro-celebrations like a smile, fist pump, or deep exhale and a “yesssss” when you do something that contributes to the change you want. It reminds us that this is important and it encourages good vibe hormones to release when we perform certain actions.
If it feels like we’re treading water and getting nowhere, it might be worth using a journal or notebook to log progress over time. There is often a lot more changing than we realise. We are very good at adapting to change and forgetting how far we’ve come. Our adaptation abilities are part of our success as a species, but also part of what can make us miserable as individuals.
Work With a Coach/Mentor
A coach is trained to ask questions that keep us connected with why our desires matter to us. With regular coaching conversations, we stay plugged into the why beneath our goals.
Likewise, a mentor (someone who is further up a similar path to us) can provide relevant guidance through their experience. They know what can derail motivation and can help keep on the road we want to keep travelling down.
If the idea of a calm and connected 60-minute call with me sounds helpful, we can focus on an area of life you’re looking to integrate or instigate change in a Pick The Lock session.
Connect With The Big Picture
Why does this change matter? What will it give us? How will it positively impact our life and the people around us? We can actively connect with the importance of this change by writing it down and keeping it close.
By giving ourselves cues that remind us of why we want to go where we are going, we can return to the path after a little detour. Sometimes detours are fun. In fact, this kind of motivation gives us the freedom to go on detours with confidence that we can come back to the main path when we’re ready.
Join or Create a Community
Gather with people who are changing too – maybe in the same areas of life or they might be doing something else entirely. It might be helpful to be with people developing the same area, but it might not be. That’s why I love The Haven!
Does this feel like a time of change for you? I’d love to hear more. Please let me know in the comments, drop me a message, or mention me if you share this episode on social media.
You can also download our digital cue cards to help you navigate a season of change.