Discovering motivation within yourself
Motivation is the power that activates the engine of success and moves you toward accomplishments. And yet, staying motivated is a tough challenge for most of us. Our psychologist Vitalija Navickė, who specialises in this area of work, shares how to discover motivation within yourself.
Vitalija Navickė has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in health psychology, and a master’s degree in neurobiology. She has completed postgraduate studies “Basics of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy”. Like she says, "All this is for my clients to make their experience of the psychological well-being journey as professional as possible.
Why did you choose to specialise in this area of work?
As a health psychologist and neurobiologist, I am primarily interested in keeping people’s mental and physical health in balance. Knowledge helps me better understand the connection between the body (home of our brain and nervous system) and our emotional welfare. Overall good health comes from the harmony of both worlds. For example, if a person wants to stay motivated in performing job-related tasks, good night sleep, healthy eating habits, and exercising play an important role. I always hear stories about burnout employees who experience exhaustion, depressive episodes and cannot do the simplest tasks anymore, blaming everything on lack of motivation.
Another example - people with emotional eating issues. Whatever the reason, they believe they need to find determination and motivation to change their habit.
What do people usually do in these situations? They ask for advice, read tips and get excited. After a day or two, motivation vanishes, leaving the same place. They stop and end up. However, this time they feel more ashamed, guilty, and disappointed in themselves - trapped in a destructive loop.
I believe it is crucial to help my clients to get out of this loop not only by focusing on motivation but also by integrating a self - care too. I am learning how to take care of health first and only after looking for ways to increase motivation.
Can you describe what a lack of motivation is?
There are many theories about what motivates us and where the motivation comes from – be it our instincts, the hierarchy of needs, etc. It is often associated with willpower. However, willpower is a resource that can run out. Therefore we need to take care of it with, e.g., self-care activities that spark joy.
The lack of motivation is when a person finds it hard to complete a task or start one. There could be a lot of internal and external reasons why this happens. Perfectionism stops us from doing things out of fear of making mistakes, and we do not even start. An unfavourable work environment. Physical and mental illnesses can make even the simple thing, such as taking a shower, non - possible.
For motivation, turning negative thoughts into positive ones is important. For instance:
Losing weight is impossible vs. I know people who did; therefore, I can do too. Exercising is hard vs. There are fun exercises I can do. I have no time, vs. my body is a priority, and I will make time for it. We often hyperfocus on the final result only, forgetting that the process of achieving it is important for a balanced lifestyle. Harsh internal criticism often comes from our childhood.
What are the most common consequences of a lack of motivation?
You can be fired or expelled from the university. But also engage less with peers or colleagues, have lower self-esteem, self-image, and overall satisfaction with higher anxiety and stress levels.
Sometimes a positive boost from a friend or family member can make us find motivation again. And sometimes, we need professional help to get out of the loop I mentioned before. My goal is to show that what we see could be only the tip of an iceberg, and there could be much more depth into it. It is essential to understand that there is always a way to increase motivation, even in the worst-case scenarios.
Can lack of motivation be a cause of depression? Why?
Yes. Lack of motivation is one of the symptoms of depression. As I mentioned in the beginning - the connection between our mental and physical health is very strong. In a very simplified manner, depression causes neurochemical imbalance leading to weakened communication between neurons. So the teamwork stops. At this point, the most important thing is to get a person's health back on track. After that, some motivation will come back naturally. And for the rest – the professional is here to help.
How do people usually deal with this problem? When is it time to look for help?
Usually, it takes time to seek help, which could be reading a self-help book, browsing the internet for tips and tricks, or talking to a professional. Some say - if you are even thinking about maybe getting help, do it, listen to your gut feeling. Waiting too long can make it harder to come out of the negative loop. It is quite common that people come with chronic problems they have been living with for years. The good news is that the most difficult part is the beginning. In therapy sessions, clients learn so much about themselves, getting much more than their motivation back on track.
What are the techniques to help discover motivation within yourself?
Sometimes the simplicity is the key. First of all, the best way is to understand what motivates you and what you truly want - not what your parents or your spouse want or what you think society demands from you. It looks like a simple task, but it can turn out that maybe it is the hardest thing. What helps is journaling of your thoughts. If you can, take a day or two off to listen to your inner voice.
When you know what you want, it is time to set a goal. Divide your goal into smaller ones, and then again into even smaller tasks. Add fun, and do not forget to celebrate each little success...The smallest 'You rocked!' can help us stay motivated.
The biggest problem comes when we wait until somebody else would praise us. Instead, become your own best friend and cheerleader. It is one of the main bases for long-term motivation. How to do that? First of all, stop criticizing yourself. Give yourself compliments! You are awesome!
The journey of achieving your goals should be more important than the goal itself. Sometimes it takes time to achieve things, and feeling down, and overworked should not be the price you pay for your goals. Make sure to schedule a time for enjoyable things in life between your work and duties. Keep in mind – if you do not pick a day to relax, your body will pick it up for you. Good luck!
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