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I am an ENTJ and one of the talents I have is to see the big picture. I can dream and see a vision in my mind of what the future could be. I can get really excited about this vision and I can get others excited too! I can see what’s possible whether it’s for a business, in my home, for my children or for a book I want to write. I can easily picture what I want or where something needs to go. That doesn’t mean I’m good at achieving these things though. Sometimes I lack the motivation to take a shower.
Ridiculous right? I can dream up a ten year business plan but the idea of taking off my clothes, getting my hair wet, being cold and having to pick out new clothes sounds exhausting to me.
Whether you’re tackling big dreams or little tasks, your success will come down to your motivation. How motivated are you to get this done? And there’s no fooling yourself about motivation. You either have it enough to get your task done, or you don’t.
But before you beat yourself up over not being motivated enough, let’s take a look at the Motivation Equation to see if we can figure out what’s going wrong. This is something I got from Brian Johnson who studied the work of Piers Steel, a leading psychologist in procrastination and motivation. Here’s the motivation equation:
Let’s start by breaking down what’s on the numerator: how much you believe you can achieve this goal multiplied by how much you value this goal. I like to look at value first.
Value: Is the thing I’m trying to accomplish really important to me? Some things are easy to assess like my desire to be a saint in Heaven. Yes, I absolutely want to accomplish this in my lifetime!
Some things are harder like my goal of teaching my daughter Latin. When push comes to shove, how important is this to me really? Do I think she can be happy without learning this? Do I think we really need to spend the extra time doing this? Is it going to make our family stronger?
After assessing how much I value my goal, I either scratch it off my list because I realize it’s just not that important to me or I keep it on my list and ask myself the next question. Expectancy: Do I really believe it’s possible to achieve this goal? Whew, this can be a hard one to really ask yourself. Often times I have to admit that no, I really don’t think I can achieve this goal. I don’t believe I can lose 30 pounds and keep it off. I don’t think I’ll ever have a fantastic sex life. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to carve out time for self-care and rest.
Now when it occurs to you that you don’t actually believe your goal is possible, you have to do one of two things. Scratch it off the list if it truly is impossible and this happens to me often. I am optimistic by nature, I get really excited about things and I definitely think I CAN DO IT ALL! But there are only so many hours in a day and I can’t save everyone. I can’t keep up many volunteer activities, write a book, take care of my kids, love my husband and keep my house clean all at the same time. The responsible thing to do is to let something go or to acknowledge that losing four pounds a week was never really going to happen.
Or… if you want to keep your goal, maybe you just need to revise it by making it smaller and more reasonable.
Don’t feel discouraged! Remember, we are working towards building up your own trust, your self-esteem so you can have more peace and feel more contentment in your life. This is a process! God does not want you to live your life with anxiety, guilt, frustration, anger… and the key to avoiding these things is to really understand yourself and to master yourself. Right now we’re doing that by examining your motivation or lack thereof so we can make progress!
Okay let’s move on to the bottom part of the equation: Impulsiveness x Delay. The first part, impulsiveness, is about how distracted you are while trying to reach your goal. When I mention teaching my daughter Latin, sure it seems like a good idea but I if other things always get in the way (i.e. other subjects, outside time, I’m just too tired to teach it etc.) then my impulsiveness related to this goal is too high.
If you were diagnosed with cancer and you had to get chemo treatments, do you think a friend calling you to hang out for lunch would get in your way? No, of course not. Your motivation would be high and your impulsiveness, letting something get in the way of your treatments, would be very low.
If I have looked at the top half of the equation and determined that something was really important to me and that I believed I could achieve it, I take a look at what impulsive behavior is getting in the way. There was a time when I kept my iPhone with me all day long and I would let it interrupt me. Whether it was pinging from a notification or whether I was compulsively checking for updates, it would distract me from my important work.
This was an example of how I knew I wanted something so I had to identify what was getting in my way. The solution was to put my phone upstairs with my charger and to leave it alone for hours at a time. All of a sudden my focus was better and I was getting more things done!
Next up, delay: this is about how long it will take you to reach your goal. If your goal is 20 years away, it’s tough to keep your motivation up for the day-to-day stuff right now. The best thing to decrease this number (and you need to decrease the delay if you want to up your motivation) is to break up your goal into smaller goals.
If you need to lose 50 lbs., work really hard to focus on the next five. Pick a small reward to give yourself when you accomplish it. If you want to be debt free, pick your smallest debt and post it in your office. You can hit that goal much faster than paying off everything you owe. If even that is too big, then just work toward paying off $100 at a time!
The smaller your goal, the faster you’ll reach it. This will build trust up within yourself and give you motivation to keep moving forward and achieving more of your goals! Goals should always be measurable so you should always be able to cut them down into smaller bites! If it’s not measureable, that’s another problem and you need to work on being able to track your progress in some quantifiable way.
So that’s the Motivation Equation. If you’re lacking motivation to get something done, check in with these four things and see which one needs tweaking. I do this all the time. I’m constantly reviewing my goals or my To Do list and asking myself, “Why don’t I feel motivated to get this done?” Usually I just need an attitude check and to remind myself that it is really Valuable to me and that I do Expect to achieve it.
When something is important to you, you’ll move mountains to get it done!