Today at work I had a long list of patients to see and another long list of tasks to do. And I just wasn’t feeling it. I really wanted to go home, climb under my fluffy comforter, and go back to bed.
And you know what? That’s okay. Having no motivation is going to happen. There’s this misconception that life should be all sunshine and daisies. But if we were happy all the time, how would we even know what happy was? The contrast is what makes the experience. So feeling no motivation is normal. To quote Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “It’s all part of the experience Russ.” What separates those who achieve their goals from those who quit is what we do on those days with no motivation.
I see three options :
- Create motivation.
- Accept that you have no motivation, and do what you need to do regardless.
Now obviously I’m not in the category of quitters. I like to accomplish goals, and achieving goals such as finishing medical school just won’t happen if I quit every time I felt no motivation. So that leaves the other two options:
Create a feeling of motivation.
Finding the right thought can create a feeling of motivation. Rather than looking at my schedule and thinking, “Wow. I have a long day scheduled,” I can look at my schedule and say, “Wow, we have so many appointments scheduled. I’m grateful we’re so busy!”. That particular thought doesn’t quite get me motivated, but it definitely generates a more positive emotion. I might also decide to focus on how many people I’m able to help today. It’s a lot more motivating to think, “Look at all the people I can help,” than thinking what a long day it will be. So on a day when you have things you need to do, and you feel no motivation, try looking for thoughts that make you feel motivated.
Accept that you have no motivation, and do it anyway.
This tactic rests on the concept that I have integrity with myself, meaning I do what I plan to do. The more often I keep promises to myself, the easier it becomes. Now in the case of going to work, my history of always showing up regardless is so strong that it wouldn’t even occur to me to call into work unless I physically was unable to be there. Just to give you an idea of what this would take, the last time I missed work I had food poisoning. The time before that I was in labor with my son. But there are areas of my life where I could use a little practice building integrity with myself, e.g. exercise. I’m getting better at keeping promises to myself. But there are still times when I’ve scheduled exercise in my calendar, then put it off when the time arrives. If you have an area where you tend to put things off, take notice. And then starting building that integrity with yourself by doing what you said you would do, one small task at a time.
How did my day at work actually play out? I used a combination of creating motivation, and accepting that I had no motivation. I did look for some motivating thoughts, and I was able to come up with, “I bet if I just get going I’ll get right into the swing of things.” And I did. Try these techniques out on a day when you have no motivation, and let me know how it goes!
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Dr. Greer is a Plastic Surgeon who practices in Cleveland, OH. Her passion is helping moms regain self-confidence by getting rid of sagginess, wrinkles, and stubborn fat. Read more about her at www.greerplastics.org.