There are moments where we struggle to feel motivated, whether it’s to work, do routine chores or even the things that we really enjoy and know are good for us. Why is it that we find it easier to binge-watch a show on Netflix rather than read a book in total silence or take up a new hobby?
Because a lack of motivation is driven from a desire to avoid anything uncomfortable. Sitting on the couch in front of the TV is comfortable, but it comes with risks. It reduces our cognitive function, which leads to a higher risk of developing Alzeimers later in life. It also reduces movement, encouraging unhealthy eating or drinking habits and increasing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Low motivation comes from a fear of stepping out of our comfort zone, when actually, taking risks to learn new things only increases our confidence to take on new challenges (not to mention develop new neural pathways), as well as the passions and hobbies that ultimately bring us happiness.
So before it’s too late, get up off the couch and dance! Dancing fuelled my motivation in day-to-day life, because it taught me the importance of taking the first step, and it introduced me to movements that made me feel more energised. Motivation is the drive that helps us to chase after our dreams.
So here are five reasons you might lack motivation, and how they can be overcome:
How many times have you told yourself that you can’t do something as an excuse for not attempting to do it in the first place. When has punitive perfectionism ever made you feel that if you couldn’t be really good at something, then there was no point doing it in the first place?
When I embarked on my dance journey, I already envisioned myself twirling across the stage under shining lights. The reality was that as a beginner, I was stumpy in my steps, struggling to understand basic sequences or look graceful in any way. But what I learnt was that just because I couldn’t do something now, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t develop that ability over time.
Dancing allowed me to develop a Growth Mindset, where the plasticity of the brain means that anything can be learnt with time and effort. Treat your brain like a muscle! The notion of a fixed mindset, where we believe that we can only do things based on an innate talent or ability, is often holding us back.
Before we can even go after something, we first need to know what we want – and that comes from knowing who we are. Too many of us burn out working for a job that we think is what we want because society says so, not because it brings us fulfilment or allows us to be ourselves. Knowing yourself means identifying your strengths, but also to develop awareness of your weaknesses and the habits that might be stopping you from feeling motivated.
A great starting point for self knowledge is understanding which are your strongest values and qualities by taking the VIA character strengths survey. Once you are clear on your values, you start to make decisions, and live your life, based on them. They will reveal your passions, and bring you the clarity and focus to set goals for yourself. Once you have goals, you have something to be motivated about.
3. reward system
When it comes to motivation, we are often driven by the idea of a reward. This reward can either come from others (extrinsic motivation), or it can come from within (intrinsic motivation). I used to rely heavily on external factors: meetings, calls, emails, or anything where I would get feedback or validation from someone else. Learning to dance taught me how to start feeling motivated from within by having to repeat and rehearse the same steps over and over, with the only reward being for myself.
The four tendencies quiz can help us understand our ‘tendency’ and understand how our reward system works can greatly help us to find greater motivation. Even if you rely too much on external rewards, it might be a question of getting a coach, finding an accountability buddy, or signing up to events that you need to schedule and attend live. This is why I run live events and attend them myself- it motivates me to know I’m in the moment with others.
We have deep-rooted fears that we are not enough – not thin enough, not young enough, or not intelligent enough to do the things that we dream of. If you think that you are not good enough to have, do, or be something, you’re unconsciously ruling it out as an option for yourself. You are what you believe, you can have what you deserve, and you can do whatever you allow yourself to do.
But if you dig a little deeper there are reasons why we tend to think like this. The Self Worth Theory of Motivation hints that this stems from the way that most education systems are built to revolve around continuous testing, evaluation and ranking – leading to constant comparison with others. From the youngest age, we develop the notion that our success is based on our abilities, and that our abilities define our value.
I was a clumsy adult beginner when I learnt how to dance, and I still stumble through my steps sometimes, but I believe that I deserve the chance to dance because it brings me joy. My dance journey taught me to see joy as my success, not my ability or level in dance. Choosing joy is what defines your value, because you deserve joy.
You are what you believe. How many people dream of learning to dance, but their first thought is “I can’t dance”, “I have two left feet”, “I have no rhythm” or “it’s not for me”. These are all limiting beliefs. What if you could be anything you wanted, have anything you wanted, or do anything you wanted? It may sound cliché or a bit woo-woo, but you can, and there’s really only one very simple thing to do about it: believe that it’s possible.
I recently started learning about manifestation in a workshop with Jennison, one of my favourite yoga teachers. Despite my (very) self-motivated attitude, I realised that the moments in which I lacked motivation (whether in dance or in life) were when I felt something was not possible. If you believe in infinite possibility, the world not only starts to offer you opportunities, but you start to believe that it’s already happened, which changes your attitude and starts to attract it.
My dance journey around the world became possible the day that a friend asked me what I would do without the limits of time and money. Finding the answer to my dream came from removing limits to my beliefs, and instead seeing infinite possibility.
Anything is possible in life, as long as you believe it to be.
If you would like to learn more about how to increase motivation in your day-to-day life, I’m hosting a live Motivation Workshop on Sunday 24 January 2021 at 19:00 CET using science, storytelling and some of my favourite dance steps. Can’t make the event? It’s all recorded so that you can watch the replay.