Motivation and Change: Is it Worth It?

photoThis is the second blog in the motivation series. You can catch up with the first one here.

It seems to me that everyone likes to be motivated, so it may disappoint you to know that you can’t be motivated to do everything.

The overachievers out there hate to admit this, but there is only so much time, energy, and focus. Our mental, physical, and emotional capacity has limits. Trying to push past these limits is unhealthy and problematic (more on that another time!).

When you are thinking about making changes and working on feeling motivated, a crucial step is to get real with your capacity to make the change.

First you have to decide how important something really is to you. Not how important you think it SHOULD be, but how important is truly is. I don’t care who you are, if it’s not really a priority in your life, it just won’t happen. This step is as much about deciding what to give up as it is about what to invest in.

I advise clients to make good investments of their time and energy. If you are going to make some kind of change, don’t do it willy-nilly. You need to prioritize. Invest in things that make the grade now in terms of your interest, commitment, and energy. Decide to wait on things that aren’t that important right now. You can always give it attention later.

My basement is a mess. It’s not that I don’t like an organized basement, it’s just not that important right now, compared to other things that I want to do. Waiting until a snow day is my chosen strategy. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about prioritizing.

Once something becomes worthy of a finding motivation, then you need to assess exactly how “worth it” it is. How much time, energy, emotion are you able and willing to put towards it?

Contrary to popular belief, you can be motivated to do something, but not go “all out” on it.

For example, I started this blog a couple of years ago. I wanted to show how the kinds of information and topics that I talked about in therapy have broad application. I wanted to do something new and positive, and to share my knowledge and observations with a wider audience.

However, I didn’t have a lot of time. I didn’t have a whole lot of energy either. But I assessed that I had enough to start and to do a few posts, and see what happened. If I did a little over a long period of time, it would still meet my goals and could fit into my life.

I call this the “plod along and see” strategy. I was comfortable with a long-term approach that allowed me to spend only a little bit of time, that would add up as the months went by. As a consequence, my readership has grown slowly but steadily. In this way, it’s a success. The blog has served to help me develop my voice, to clarify my interests, and hopefully to provide some useful information to readers.

If you have something you want to do or to change, assessing the “worth it-ness” of your project is essential. If it’s worth it, then you need to decide how much of your finite resources (time, energy, money, emotion) you invest. You can always adjust this over time.

Motivation tends to build over time if it’s worth it and if what you invest lines up with what you can give. It’s also important to stay open to what you might gain or lose that you didn’t expect. We need to respond to this information and change our strategy accordingly.

Think you have a project worthy of finding and sustaining motivation? Read more tomorrow to see if you are ready and able to start your project!


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