Where Does Your Motivation Go When You Lose it?

5SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/21/2008 10:00 AM   :  57 comments

"I've lost my motivation."

"I just can't seem to find the motivation I need to stick to this."

"I do fine for a couple days, but then I just can't seem to stay motivated."


How many times have you said something like this to yourself? Probably more than a few times, if you're like me.

But have you ever wondered where your motivation goes when you lose it? If you knew that, it would probably be a lot easier to find it again, right?


If I had $10 for every hour I've spent trying to track down my motivation, or wondering what's wrong with me when I couldn't find it, I'd be rich. Still unmotivated, but rich. But all that wasted time and mental energy did teach me one important thing: that my motivation hadn't gone anywhere. It was my mind that had gone wandering off in the wrong direction, like a blindfolded contestant in a pin the tail on the donkey game.

Motivation isn't something you can find or lose, or something you can get from anyone or anything else. If you really want to accomplish something, you already have all the motivation you need, and there's nothing to go looking for.

The problem for me was that there were lots of other things I wanted too, and some of them didn't mesh too well with the things I had to do in order to accomplish my weight loss and health goals. Like wanting to chill out on the couch for a while instead of hitting the gym, or endulge in a little comfort eating at the local pizza parlor instead of chopping and steaming those veggies on my menu.

If you find yourself choosing the couch and the treat more often than you'd like, the absolute WORST thing you can do is to start thinking that you've lost your motivation. That just makes you feel helpless and down on yourself, and/or sends you off on a wild goose chase looking for something you already have.

What you actually need to do is train your wandering mind to remember how much you really want to accomplish your goal and how good it feels to do what it takes to make this happen. When you can remember that feeling, and call it to mind in the moment when you actually have to choose between chilling on the couch and doing your exercise, or between the pizza and the steamed veggies, making the decision you want to make will be much easier. You may still decide to go for the couch and the pizza once in a while, but you'll know it's your decision, and not the result of some mysterious problem called "lack of motivation." And that will be OK. You won't need to get all worried about losing your motivation, or get down on yourself, because you'll know you can make a different decision whenever you want to.

The real motivation-killer is thinking that "being motivated" means not having these conflicts between opposing desires, or expecting that you'll do the "right" thing every time. That's what leads to feeling guilty or defective, and beating up on yourself--and that's about as helpful as a broken leg is to a runner. Sometimes, cutting yourself some slack is just what you need.

So, here's my advice: stop wondering where your motivation went, and kick all that negative self-talk to the curb. Instead, come up with at least one thing you can do to help train your brain to remember how motivated you really are. Here's a link with some suggestions to get you started.


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Comments

  • 57
    This is just what the doctor ordered! I have saved this for myself and sent it to others. I needed a good talking to and you gave it to me, so thanks! I will tune in for more of your wisdom. - 2/21/2009   7:38:37 PM
  • 56
    Touche` - 2/13/2009   5:57:55 PM
  • RICKIANN
    55
    Perfect day to read this. Yesterday I had to make myself do what excersises I did and I didn't do them all. My granddaughter had to encourage me to take my walk. She walks with me every day and when I saw she was disappointed, I went. But the motivation was not there! Last night I wanted a huge slice of greasy pepporini pizza.......good thing we live about 20 miles from town..lol... I settled for a bowl of cereal. I'm saving this to favorites and reading it every day! THANKS for your timing. - 1/15/2009   9:30:06 AM
  • 54
    I just got to say you are THE MAN Couch Dean, You continue to impress me with your insightful words that are truly applicable. Ive been in and out of therapy my entire life and heard all these messages before....and yet never understood them. I cant say thank you enough! - 12/22/2008   10:02:14 AM
  • 53
    this is sooooo true - 12/8/2008   9:47:49 AM
  • JENNIFERSTER
    52
    I read quite a number of years ago & do believe it (although need to say it over & over like a mantra sometimes): Motivation follows action. In other words, sometimes you just need to "do it" and the motivation follows -- not the other way around. In other words, motivation can build over time through habit. So when I get to that place where I'm just stewing about being lazy, having no motivation, being a failure, can't get myself to stand up from my desk & go exercise, this will be a good reminder for me. - 11/29/2008   3:51:55 PM
  • 51
    This is a great article that I will save just in case I need a kick in the pants! - 11/27/2008   5:46:43 PM
  • 50
    My Motivation is so bad, I am really very lazy lately and I don't know why.
    It is like I have given up on the weightloss yet it is really something I need to do and want to do. I will read the tips and see if they can help me. - 11/8/2008   6:47:23 PM
  • 49
    ~Gasp~ You mean, I wasn't burning calories while I searched all over the house, looking for my motivation???

    ~lol~ - 10/15/2008   12:30:04 PM
  • 48
    well said. thank you - 10/14/2008   12:16:41 PM
  • 47
    A much needed reminder (in the linked article) for me that my motivation needs to be internal or intrinsic. It is too easy to focus on things like the reading on the scale or only be motivated by the comments and expectations of others. These things can too easily distract and discourage. If this is a true internal desire then when I am distracted by choices that will take me off track I need to take a moment and look inside to rekindle my motivation. - 10/11/2008   12:50:52 AM
  • 46
    Awww, now you've outed us? - 9/10/2008   6:56:55 PM
  • 45
    I definitely needed to read this blog tonight. Thank you so much!! - 9/9/2008   12:27:09 AM
  • 44
    I'm glad I read the article. Needed to remind myself that the scale shouldn't determine whether I am successful or not. Lots of truth about owning your choices, and the need for self-exploration. I do need to think more about why I put off going to the Y. I know some of it is anxiety/fear of what others will think of me, and I know that it shouldn't matter. - 9/7/2008   2:34:07 AM
  • 43
    This reminds me that I told myself I was taking the summer off from the gym but now it is fall and I need to get a program at the gym again. I really need to give being active a solid go again............ Walking the dogs isn't aerobic! - 9/5/2008   1:13:51 AM
  • 42
    Motivation comes and goes. If I can just get started, I'm always glad I exercised. Having people on this site who are counting on me to log in helps motivate me and hold me accoutable. - 8/31/2008   8:59:15 PM
  • ELSTEMPO
    41
    Excellent article and quite helpful for me as I work from home and am faced with daily guilt over how self-motivated I am or am not. You guys might also want to check out this professor who has made a very productive life simply by being a productive procrastinator. That is, rather than get down on himself when he wants to avoid something, he just works on something he'd rather do instead, and has ended up being a very productive human being as a result:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/
    story.php?storyId=91432804
    - 8/27/2008   8:35:49 AM
  • FALLENFAIRY
    40
    This is a very good article. Now if I could only do it. Like a lot of people said is easier said then done. - 8/26/2008   5:51:44 PM
  • AWOMEN03
    39
    Wow,
    this really opened my eyes. I always thought that once I ate that slice of pizza instead of the steamed vegetables and/or sat on the couch instead of go to the gym that I had failed. I can be soooooo hard on myself and just make it worst to the point where I just want to give it up just for one mistake because I think my motivation is gone. But your right it is right there.I just have to tap into it. Thanks - 8/25/2008   11:42:26 PM
  • 38
    Thanks that is very helpful... I can be a master at the self con game! - 8/25/2008   10:19:32 AM
  • 37
    Great article. - 8/25/2008   2:35:43 AM
  • 36
    I think that this sums it up for me, "The real motivation-killer is thinking that "being motivated" means not having these conflicts between opposing desires, or expecting that you'll do the "right" thing every time".

    I continue to try and meet my personal goals despite thinking this way more often than not.

    - 8/24/2008   2:19:04 PM
  • BETHEB
    35
    I love this article but like someone else said "it is much easier to read than do.
    I am trying to stay positive in a negative world,not just the world in general but my immediate world. Everybody in it is alway angry to the motivation for anything is hard to come by.
    - 8/24/2008   2:01:44 PM
  • **EVA**
    34
    It's so good to know that I don't need to keep revving up my motivation, but rather remember, review and refocus the original motivation that got me started.
    Thanks. That's so much easier. - 8/23/2008   10:03:36 PM
  • 33
    This article came at the right time and helps to change my focus back to where it should be. Thank you! - 8/22/2008   10:12:58 PM
  • 32
    This came at the just the time I needed it ... and I think I'm going to use it to change my language about motivation. Today, I was not unmotivated to stay on my diet, I was simply more motivated to try out the bagel shop in the new town I was in. Now why was that? Was it for a good reason? Will it be worth knowing how the bagels are but eating too many calories? I'm not sure yet, but at least now I'm thinking about it. Thanks! - 8/22/2008   3:22:48 PM
  • WYNDYC
    31
    Coincidence? I was sitting here thinking that my motivation had left at the beginning of the month and hadn't come back for a visit yet. - 8/22/2008   12:51:19 PM
  • 30
    This article is so timely for me. I've been feeling like I lost everything and I have been putting the weight back on. Now I'm going to try, make a clean start and remember how good it felt to see that scale drop. :) - 8/22/2008   9:26:54 AM
  • 29
    my motivation tends to take a backseat to other things a lot of the time. like right now, i have no motivation because i'm having abdominal pains that the doc can't figure out. not to mention some stress that's going on due to my brother and parents. - 8/22/2008   12:17:32 AM
  • NUNANA
    28
    I can definitely relate! - 8/21/2008   9:50:35 PM
  • ILENEJ
    27
    I enjoyrd the article very much. I will need to try and keep a journal. There was some very good tips on staying motivated. - 8/21/2008   9:16:35 PM
  • 26
    This is great reading, you have to train your mind to accomplish what you are after, the motivation will fall into place. - 8/21/2008   8:27:00 PM
  • 25
    I like how you said it. we need to train our minds to remember what our motivation is instead of focusing on the negitive. - 8/21/2008   8:08:35 PM
  • 24
    Wow this artical really showed me some things about myself and why I struggle so much to find the motivation to do sertain things. - 8/21/2008   8:07:37 PM
  • REYWRAP
    23
    Great article......I am so glad I have taken the time to read it. - 8/21/2008   7:24:22 PM
  • MICHAELA2780
    22
    I am so glad that you said when you really want to do it, you have all the motivation you need...because it is so true. And I have found that on those rare days when I choose to (or am forced to) sit on the couch for the evening, I'm not at all worried about motivation...it's there, waiting for me to choose to get off my butt! Thanks for the great article!! - 8/21/2008   6:56:15 PM
  • 21
    Love your blog! Until I joined SP I was the perfect example of all or nothing. Either I was in 100% or I wasn't. I have since learned, through blogs like yours and other information information on SP, that I'll have ups and downs and that I don't have to be perfect every single day. As long as I'm aware of what it is I'm choosing to do and I get back to what makes me feel good, I know I WILL achieve my goal weight. Thanks! - 8/21/2008   5:16:51 PM
  • 20
    Mind is the key for any success. We just need to stay focus on positive thinking. - 8/21/2008   5:00:26 PM
  • 19
    Oops sorry ....Blog - 8/21/2008   4:42:28 PM
  • 18
    This Blod couldn't be more TRUE! - 8/21/2008   4:41:48 PM
  • PUDGYTHEBEAVER
    17
    Well written. It explains alot of the emotional cycles we go through: fall off the wagon, beat yourself up, eat to feel better, gain weight and the vicious cycle feeds it self. This article has given me a new way of looking at the whole love/hate relationship of diet and exercise. I am in control because I decide. - 8/21/2008   3:02:34 PM
  • 16
    That's right! It's not all or nothing. It's a journey with peaks and valleys and our job is to make it as level as possible. - 8/21/2008   1:00:24 PM
  • 15
    I never thought about it this way. It all seems to boil down to choices. You can choose to do the sit on your butt in front of the tv with that delicious pizza or you can enjoy some of the steamed veggies and get your rear in gear.
    No one can make you do it. No one can force you to eat your veggies or exercise. You have to find it from within. It's there, it just has to be brought to the forefront. - 8/21/2008   12:39:30 PM
  • 14
    Fantastic article! I really enjoyed it and appreciated that 'lost motivation' is nothing more than a poor excuse! We always have the power to make our own choices! I am working on that more and more! - 8/21/2008   12:24:58 PM
  • 13
    wonderful blog! i did read one time that motivation was linked to serotonin (sp?) and endorphine (i'm a terrible speller) and other chemicals in your brain, tho... wish I could find that again and post it here.... - 8/21/2008   12:22:42 PM
  • DINGDONG55
    12
    Wonderful read put it in my favs
    - 8/21/2008   12:19:06 PM
  • RASCALOO
    11
    Great article! Thanks for sharing.

    Motivation is indeed and inside out process. Gread ideas on the link provided as well. - 8/21/2008   12:16:28 PM
  • 10
    Hey thanks for that motivation! No really, I tend to get down on myself and wonder why I can't just make it work, when the truth is I can make it work, I'm just making decisions that alter the plan I originally set. I know what I need to do, it is just a matter of doing it. - 8/21/2008   12:09:23 PM
  • 9
    Wow! That's totally me! Glad I didn't put off reading this blog like I do with most thing procrastination! - 8/21/2008   11:27:18 AM
  • 8
    Motivation is very hard for me to keep. It seems as soon as I do not see the results I think I should, the motivation leaves. - 8/21/2008   10:53:16 AM

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