The Simple Ritual That'll Help You Unlock Your Motivation
July 15, 2019
'I have zero motivation to do this.'
Do you ever find yourself uttering this statement—probably when you're in the middle of a task that bores you all the way from your eyelids down to the soles of your feet?
We often think about motivation as something to summon or conjure up—but the hitch with that train of thought is that motivation can sometimes feel like a well that has run dry. Anyone who's ever felt like they're running on fumes knows that no amount of willing yourself to get up and go will work.
Instead, one solution can help you connect to a deeper, more rooted sense of why: tying the importance of a task to the task itself. And it all starts by asking and answering one simple question.
What about (insert your task here) is important to me?
Now, once you have the answer to that question, ask the question again: What about that thing you just said is important to you?
For example: If working at an entry-level job is important in order to move up to the next step of your career ladder, you'll use that answer: "What about moving up the career ladder is important to me?" and you do the same for each answer.
Asking yourself this question for each successive answer can help you tap into your core reasons for doing something.
Productivity wiz Benjamin Hardy, the creator of this exercise, writes on his blog that finding your why is important because "operating in alignment with your core values boosts your performance." In short: It's the secret sauce for your motivation.
Now, you might be thinking (especially you 9-5 folks): "This question is super easy to answer. My 'why' for going to work every day is to make money and pay for my life."
But by digging a little bit, we can find a greater well of opportunities and knowledge.
Let's explore it further.
Dig For Your Deepest 'Why'
Maybe you can fill in the blank with your day job.
What about my 9-to-5 is important to me?
Rephrasing it in this way takes the responsibility off the job itself to provide you with satisfaction, and puts the responsibility back on you.
Maybe your job is important to you because it provides one or more of the following: stability, steady income, camaraderie with coworkers, a welcomed challenge, terrific free office snacks, air conditioning in the sweltering summer, a chance to flex your skills, the ability to support your family.
The more you think about why it's important, the more reasons you are likely to find. This can help you push through the tougher days and make them a little more tolerable.
For instance: If one of the reasons you go to your job is that it allows you free time in the evening to work on a creative project, reminding yourself of this fact during the day can help you look forward to those hours that are for you—not for someone else.
This question doesn't just work magic for the tasks you don't want to do. Sometimes, there are things we truly want to do—but never seem to find the time to get to.
This "why" exercise works for those activities as well.
What about my (novel-writing/pottery-making/running routine) is important to me?
Perhaps it gives you a space to think, moments of solitude, or empowers you to feel healthy or strong. Once you pinpoint these exact traits, you can continue to associate the good qualities with those activities.
That way, when you're rethinking a workout after a long day of work, instead of thinking, "What's the point of logging a mile or two out on the roads?" your brain can make the connection for you with the answer you decided on before: "Running a mile or two is important because it will allow me to clear my head and sleep better tonight."
So when you find yourself facing the obstacles of the day, take a few minutes and do a round-robin of "why" questions.
When you find out what's important to you, you'll be more inclined to keep going.
Don't be afraid of asking yourself: What's my deepest why?
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