“I’m just not really feeling it….”

It seems that the one thing we could all do with, is a bit more motivation. I speak with a lot of people each week, and at the moment especially, people are saying such things to me as,

“How do you stay so motivated? I just can’t bring myself to do certain things, I’m exhausted. I wish I was more- I don’t know.
I’m just not that motivated I guess….”

Can you relate? If so, you’re not on your own.

I feel that motivation is a very misunderstood concept, and after several years of teaching and training both adults and children, working in both the public and private sectors, my understanding of motivation has progressed to mean something quite different now to what I thought it was.

The most common expectation that many people seem to have with themselves is that they SHOULD be able to just motivate themselves to do things and to be a certain way; like flicking on a light switch- boom! It’s on and you feel bright, and dazzling and illuminating. Well, not quite. I would like to suggest a shift in metaphor for you to help you see that motivation is more like a relationship- you do your best, over a period of time, you have good and bad moments, but you hang in there because there is high value. And like a relationship, motivation can often provide you with wonderful and unexpected surprises, if you are open to them.

There is not just one type of motivation, or way to be motivated. Just like there is not one type of person, or relationship. I’ve found so far that there are several that keep coming up in my work with Kataholos, so I would like to share two of them with you here and more in future writing.

Fleeting Motivation

This is the most common type of motivation that people recognise and yet, it is the most infrequent to occur. When you feel this type of motivation you are full of energy, you can suddenly think clearly and see solutions to problems. You may feel physically lighter and a partially thing- a piece of music, an image, a sound- can fill you full of vitality. You feel like you can take on the world! Now I have experienced this, and it is indeed wonderful. But it is rare, it is fleeting: it floats in on some a magical breeze of emotional electricity, sets you on fire for a moment, and then passes on, to illuminate and empower the next person.

So manage your expectations for this type of motivation. We are not entitled to wake up and feel this every day, so enjoy it when it occurs. You can’t really plan for it, just enjoy it whilst it lasts. There are 168 hours in a week, and i would say that I only feel this type of motivation perhaps two or three times in a week, for a total of an hour or two. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Because when it occurs, I know how rare it is- so I make the most of this type of motivation whilst it is around. I may delve into a work project, or dance, smile and just take a moment to enjoy the experience and how good it feels. But it is fleeting, so I let it go. This, therefore, creates a problem that you may now be considering. If this may only happen to you for an hour or two each week, how can you stay motivated for the other 165-166 hours?!

That’s where the next type of motivation comes in.

False Motivation

I learned about this reading about a story from the UK Army, which has become somewhat mythical. In keeping with the tone of the story, it’s value does not lie in whether or not it is true. But in what it can teach us that we can then apply in our lives. It goes like this.

In the UK Army they do a lot of training drills and exercises outside, many of them lasting for days. On one particular exercise, a set of young trainees were out in the countryside for several days. They got wet, were tired, sleep deprived and having to perform in very difficult conditions. Half way through the four day exercise, one of the trainees said to the instructor,
“Sarge, we’ve been out here for ages, we are struggling, how much longer?”
“You know I can’t tell you that,”
“Yeah but, can you at least tell us-“
“Ok I’ll let you into some intel,” the Sergeant
would say.
“You see that hill in the distance?” He would ask, pointing to a bright green hill in the near distance.”
“Well, when all this is over, there’s going to be a van waiting for you all. And inside it will be hot mugs of tea and mars bars for you all. How’s that sound?”
“Really Sarge??”
“Yeah, now crack on and stop moaning.”

The image of the hot tea and chocolate bars waiting for the trainees kept them highly motivated throughout the rest of the ordeal. So no matter how tired, or cold, or injured they got, they kept their eyes on the prize and the promise of a warm, delicious treat.

So the exercise would eventually end and the trainees would trudge up the bright green hill, exhausted, but excited for their reward. But there was nothing there. No van. No tea. No chocolates. And the trainees couldn’t believe it. “Sarge,” they would exclaim, “there nothing here!”
“That’s right, there isn’t,” he would state calmly.
“So you lied?”
“No. I motivated you.”
“Listen. When you are out there for real, you need to be able to motivate yourselves. I won’t be there. You need to be able to keep going, when you don’t want to. And I’ve now shown you how to do it. Picture the van, the tea and chocolates, I don’t care, your missus or boyfriend, whatever you need to, and you imagine they are waiting for you at the end of it. Because that will get you through. Now quite complaining, because what you’ve just been given here is more than any tea or chocolates.”

The trainees would stand quite, stunned, letting the weight of what they had just learned sink in. They now had the capacity to motivate themselves no matter what was going on, by creating something in their own mind to get them through. Presently, there was a rumble in the near distance.
“Hey, what’s that?” one of them asked.
“It’s a van.” The Sarge replied. “You did a good job out there, I’m not totally heartless…” he said with a smirk.

So if you feel like you are out on an Army exercise at the moment, what would be waiting for you in the van? The best thing about false motivation is that you can use it any time, to motivate yourself and provide meaning for the suffering you may be going through. It is not like fleeting motivation, where we often expect to feel great and positive and top of the world. With false motivation, you can allow yourself to feel low, or rubbish, or whatever you need to in that moment. But you keep moving forward. Like the Army trainees did in their exercise.

Enjoy these moments while they last!

By falsely motivating yourself you can create momentum where there isn’t any, you do not have to wait for anyone or anything else. You can just make a decision to create something to motivate yourself by using your imagination.

Here are some examples of false motivation that you could try in your life:

“Ive just got to make it until Friday!”- What is so special about Friday? There may be nothing, so create something to look forward to- a meal, time with family, chill out time, a present for yourself. Do not expect yourself to feel good all the time throughout the week, in fact, expect this. Allow your feelings to come and go, operate from the deeper motivation inside yourself.

“I’m going to be able to run 10 miles in one month”-Why? Well, you’ve always wanted to be fitter and enjoyed running. And by declaring this, the efforts that you put in over the month will be building towards something.

“I’m going to imagine the next time I speak to someone it’s the very last time I will see them”- Why? Quite a strange idea, but in doing so, you will shift your perspective towards treating them as well as possible. No one has done this for you, you have created this perspective shift yourself and your relationships will benefit.

Here is an example of how I am using false motivation in my life. I have decided to run an ultra marathon of 30 miles. There is currently no local race I can enter, so I am going to just make up my own route. I have spent one month so far doing my training, and it’s going really well. Even if I don’t end up doing it, or my time is poor on the day, does not matter. What matters is that I have used my imagination to create something that is motivating me over the next four months to work hard and keep fit.

And the best bit about false motivation is that it is a skill; the more you practice it, the better you get at it and there are no limits to it. It takes a little bit of time to get your head around, so give yourself some thinking time to let it settle in. It’s all about acting as if something wonderful is going to happen. You imagine that the event or experience that you want is going to happen, then you keep this imaginative picture in your mind and act as if it is going to happen. And the best thing about false motivation is, even if the actual event that you wanted does not occur, or is not quite how you want it, the progress that you will have made whilst believing in it and acting as is, will astound you.

Why not have both?

So there are two very different types of motivation for you. There are more that I would like to share with you. But beginning with these will get you off to a great start. There’s a millionaire called T Harv Eker, and he says that when you are presented with a choice, ask yourself, how can I have both? So make good use of both of these types of motivation for you in your life. Use them both in different times and in different ways, to benefit you and your loved ones.

Enjoy the beautiful fleeting moments of motivation whilst they last and make good use of them.

And use false motivation for the majority of your time to make even your low and monotonous moments meaningful and adding up to something- like the trainees in the Army.

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