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  • Steven Sutton, LCSW

Windows of Motivation

As we approach the new year, many people take this time to reflect on changes they want to make in their life. Some of us want to drop a bad habit or start a powerful routine. Some of us want to grow out of procrastination, improve our health, stop drinking, or explore that new challenge we've been avoiding. While many of us get motivated by the turning of a new year some of us feel ambivalent most of the time and wonder if there's something wrong with us for not being more motivated.

I encourage you to notice that, throughout our lives, windows of motivation open and close. When the windows open we feel compelled to try something new and tackle challenges. We're fired up and we push through resistance. When the windows close we lose the thread of why we wanted to do that difficult thing to begin with, we feel overwhelmed by the challenges, and we give in to resistance. Moving back and forth between open windows and closed windows of motivation is normal and whatever you're experiencing is fine. The nature of the cycle is that it changes and what you're feeling right now isn't permanent -- it doesn't define you.

Consider some best practices to move in a powerful direction regarding motivation:

  • Focus on what you're doing instead of what you're not doing. Make sure to recognize gains you make on your projects or things you do that make a positive contribution to your life. If you catch yourself emphasizing all the things you're not doing try to turn your thoughts around intentionally and identify 3 positive things about what you are doing.

  • If you feel a window of motivation open, even for a brief period of time, celebrate that! Notice it and make a big deal about it in your thoughts and self talk.

  • If you notice you've lost motivation downplay it and tell yourself that it's normal. Your window will open again sometime soon.

  • When your window of motivation is open, rush through it! Take full advantage of that time and know it may not last as long as you want it to. Don't tell yourself you've finally made a permanent change. Instead appreciate that you're strong right now and be honest that you may not be as strong in the near future. So make the most of it!

  • Keep track of how it feels to be doing something powerful. Write it down, record yourself talking about it, or tell people in your life about what you're experiencing. Begin to think of open windows of motivation as a wonderful time for you to explore what is possible in your life and don't worry about the fact that it won't always feel that way.

  • Remember that you don't have to feel like doing something to do it. Sometimes, even when resistance it high and motivation is low, your commitments can get you through. Willpower is also impermanent but use it when you need to. Don't fell into the trap of living your entire life according to what you feel.

  • Stay in touch with the idea that doing things that are difficult make them easier over time. Remember the role of repetition in developing our personal abilities. Don't get discouraged when you realize you have to repeat something many times and it still isn't coming naturally to you. Repetition is how growth occurs so it's actually something to be admired. That hard thing you're doing is getting easier the more you do it, even if that's difficult to discern.

Experiment with noticing your windows of motivation and taking an active role in self coaching with the practices above. If you want to learn more or get to work with support, reach out to BMP and let's talk.

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