Many of my clients have come in complaining of a lack of motivation; from not being motivated enough on the job, to not being able to diet, quit smoking, or get out of bed in the morning. They desire to achieve both positive and negative motivations-positive motivations and being motivations toward doing something; negative motiviations being toward NOT doing something (not smoking, for example).
Almost invariably, the method they have tried before (unsuccessfully) has been to beat themselves into it. This happens through a negative inner dialog, such as: “You lazy person, you’ll never get anywhere;” “you have to do this whether you like it or not;” or “no one will ever love you until you do.” Sometimes, they have tried bribing or persuading themselves, which works for a while, but fails sooner or later. Sometimes, they have gotten another person to push them around, such as a motivational group, hypnosis, a parent or parent substitute, who will insist that they have to behave.
This third option works quite well for some people for a long time. However, the nature of this persuasion is to overpower the client’s natural process, and the people who come to me come because they have rebelled against the authority of that person or group, and find that now they can’t do what they would like to because of their rebellion! The truth is, that if we believe someone else is pushing us around, we are not likely to respond cooperatively. Especially when the “pushy person” is oneself!!!
The fact is, no matter how nasty and angry these people get with themselves, they cannot get motivated. Together, my clients and I have had tremendous, verifiable success with these problems, and every client who has worked with me has succeeded in getting motivated, both “negative motivation” and “positive motivation”. The reason for such success is htat creating motivation is easy.
I maintain that motivation grows out of celebration and appreciation. I like to state it in equation form: celebration + appreciation = motivation
By this I mean that if you can find a way to appreciate yourself for what you’ve already accomplished, and to celebrate your previous successes (and believe em, you CAN find a way), you will find you are “magically” motivated to accomplish more. No struggle, no hassle-you accomplish out of the pure fun of success! To illustrate what I mean, I will describe two possible employers. The “bad boss” and the “good boss”.
The Bad Boss
-Operates through intimidation and criticism…
-Always complains; never praises (you only know you’re doing OK because the boss says nothing)
-Gets nasty if you make a mistake
-Humiliates you in front of others
-Never thinks you’ve done enough
-Assumes you are lazy and dishonest
-Changes the rules arbitrarily
-Is never satisfied of pleased
(get the picture?)
The Good Boss
-Always lets you know when you’re doing well
-Asks you what you need whenever you’ve made a mistake;
-Is very helpful
-Is concerned about your well-being as well as your productivity
-Assumes you want to do a good job
-Helps you feel like part of the team
-Treats you as a valued human being
-Is clear about the duties expected of you.
Both of these bosses have the same goal: to get the job done. However, there is a big difference in the success of their individual management styles. Think about your probable reaction to the two styles of management. The bad boss’s office is characterized by tension and anger. People work only to keep the boss off their backs, and consequently goof-off whenever he/she is not around. They are not efficient, because they are not motivated to accomplish anything, merely to avoid the boss’s anger. They are operating in a mental state we call “adaptation”, which is focused on keeping someone (usually someone angry or nasty) off their backs.
They have little loyalty to anything but their paychecks, and perhaps each other, as mistreated prisoners are loyal to each other when confronting the jailer. Offices which are characterized by inefficiency and disharmony. If this boss requires overtime, he/she encounters resistance.
If you were working for this boss, how would you feel? Would you go to work happily each day? Would you volunteer for extra work? Would you look forward to each new assignment? Probably not. In short, you would not feel highly motivated, would you?
On the other hand, the employees of the good boss tend to care about themselves and their jobs. They feel proud of their accomplishments, and eager to learn more and accomplish more. If the boss is gone, the work still goes on, because people are in a mental state of motivation, and are being gratified by their sense of accomplishment. When this boss requests overtime, he/she will be met with a cooperative response.
Again, take a moment and picture yourself in this situation. How would you feel? Would you feel eager to please this boss? Would you look forward to his/her reaction to your latest work? Would you be willing to help out, if extra work were necessary? Most likely, you would-you would feel enthusiastic and motivated, looking forward to work each day.
Notice the difference in your energy in the two situations. Which boss would you rather work for? Hopefully, it’s as obvious to you as it is to me. I would prefer the good boss (just the names I have chosen for the two styles have probably made that obvious.)
In the daily tasks and situations of our lives, we become our own bosses; whether we are aware of it or not. We have a choice about which kind of a boss we wish to be to ourselves. If you decide as most of my clients (and myself) have, you will choose to become the good boss to yourself. This means you learn to treat yourself with kindness and understanding, be very generous with praise, and gentle with corrections. Then you will accomplish your goals with a sense of pride and achievement, and a great deal of pleasure. You will feel motivated, and wonder why you never realized how easy it was.
All of this can be accomplished through the two “magic motivators”: celebration and appreciation. Most of us know how to appreciate others. However, when it comes to ourselves, we feel embarrassed and uncomfortable if we are too generous with praise.
Years of being told not to brag or to be stuck up when we were young have taken their toll, and self-appreciation comes awkwardly. However, if motivation is a desirable trait, then self-appreciation becomes necessary and desirable too. The good news is that you can learn it.
If you would like to learn self-appreciation and it is difficult for you, I recommend practicing in several ways. Many of my clients have found it fun to buy small gold foil star stickers (just like in grade school) and award them to themselves for jobs well done, or any achievements they wish to celebrate. Pasting the stars on a calendar daily can be very effective. Go ahead, award yourself lots!
Other kinds of stickers are readily available. One of my clients rewarded herself for being successful in her eating program with small stickers representing jelly beans, chocolates and ice cream cones! She got her dessert in praise instead of calories.
Also, it can be effective to remember back to childhood parties and celebrations. One of my clients was told never to make noise because her grandmother was ill. However, shewas allowed to play her accordion as loud as she wanted to when she practiced. To this day, playing her accordion feels like a celebration and a chance for her to sound off. Early birthday parties or holiday outings that were special can also be tapped for ideas. If Mom always cooked a turkey for a big occasion, or set the table with the best china, or a bottle of champagne was served, then those ingredients can indicate celebration and accomplishment.
Crepe paper streamers, banners, candles, balloons, flowers, special clothing (your fanciest shoes, a new hat) gatherings of friends, trophies, diplomas and awards can all indicate achievements worth celebrating. Try using one or two of these items on occasions for which you wish to generate motivation.
If you are nervous on the first day of the new job, celebrate completing the day with sparkling apple juice or diet cola served in your best champagne flutes, and candles on the dinner table. Put a few gold stars on your calendar for getting through a difficult homework assignment. Buy your little girl a trophy engraved with her name for cleaning up her room for a whole month.
There is no such thing as too much praise or celebration. Is there too much motivation? Of course not-the more the merrier. Fresh flowers on the table just to say how much you appreciate yourself can do a lot toward making you happier any day. A new trashy romance novel can be a great reward/celebration for reading your required technical books.
The important point is that celebration of what you have accomplished already will create motivation to accomplish more.
Get creative with your celebrations, have fun. Celebrate a cherished friendship with an impromptu lunchtime picnic, and a balloon. Above all, have fun. That’s the objective!
If you find yourself around someone who takes command and tells you what you should be doing, or comments unasked about how you are doing things wrong, or otherwise appoints him/herself as the boss in your life, you may find your newly-created motivation flagging. Remember to fire them as your boss. It’s YOUR life, and you are doing whatever you are doing because you WANT to. You need to give no better reason to anyone but yourself.
Once you have fired this self-appointed boss, then you may need to remind yourself of how much you have accomplished without that kind of help. Celebrate your independence, your spirit, your willingness to be responsible for yourself.
It is also possible to set up informative books, articles, television authorities, gurus, etc. up as your boss-in which case, you will again find your motivation flagging. These informational aids can be useful, but only if your keep them in perspective.
Remember, the boss gets information about how to run things, gets educated, goes for help when necessary, BUT the boss is still in charge. The information is there for your use, but no expert, (no, not even a therapist) can know if the information is right for you.
If you remember who the boss is, then you will use the information wisely and judiciously, rejecting whatever there is that does not suit your style or personality. You will use it to support and further your goals, and to aid in the celebration of your accomplishments.
Whenever you find your motivation flagging, look around for how you are doing at being your boss. Are you using a motivational, supportive style? Have you let someone else take over your authority? Is there some appreciation you need?
Take a few minutes with yourself every day just for appreciation. It’s easy, fun, and very effective. Imagine living every day energized and motivated!!