4 Motivations Myths & Why It’s Not About Willpower – Part 2

When we act on expectations and assumptions that are off base, it sets us up to feel like a failure, but all we really need is a fresh perspective and some reality-based strategies to build our “want to”.

Click here to view Part 1

We can be so hard on ourselves in our inner monologue.  We look at everyone else’s highlight reel and automatically compare ourselves, assuming others just sail through their days motivated, focused, and flawless, while we flail around trying not to drown in a sea of distractions, overwhelm, demands, and deadlines.

After coaching women from all different phases of life and levels of achievement, I can say with certainty that we’re all fighting the same battles.

However, high-achieving women have learned to change the way they think and create reality-based strategies to get going and keep moving.

Let’s unpack the last two myths about motivation so we can stop beating ourselves up and start problem-solving instead.

View the first two myths in Part 1

MYTH #3:   “I need to be more self-disciplined.”  Why am I so lazy?

What we perceive as a failure of discipline on our part, may, in fact, be the logical outcome of overwhelm and weariness, lack of structure or strategy, and lack of a systematic process.

The good news is, every one of these factors is correctable.

Instead of mentally chiding yourself for your supposed failure of discipline and character, try this 2 step exercise…

Step One:  Discovery

On a piece of paper, write down each category of factors I listed above.  Although it’s tempting to just think about it in your head, trust me, write it down.  Writing stimulates a different part of the brain and will help with creative thinking.

Then ask yourself discovery questions to pinpoint what’s causing you to drag your heels.

Give yourself permission to explore in this way without “shoulding” on yourself.

For example…

Problem:  Overwhelm & Weariness

“Am I physically tired?  Mentally or emotionally tired?”

“Am I feeling overwhelmed or in over my head?”

“What’s stopping me?  Do I know what the next step is?  Do I have the resources available to act?”

Step Two:  Problem-solving

Make yourself keep writing until you come up with at least 3 viable options to solve each problem you identified.

You may need to come up with other options for a complete solution, but it’s ok to apply a band-aid solution to get unstuck in this moment.

For example…

“I can drink a big glass of water, eat some almonds, and walk up and down the stairs once to get the energy flowing again.”

“I can set aside 15 minutes to listen to a worship song and pray, so I can re-center my thoughts.”

“I can ask someone to meet with me for 20 minutes to put our heads together and brain-dump some ideas on paper

“I can break the big target into smaller and smaller chunks until I know what piece of it I can accomplish this week.  Then I can take that piece and segment it into a list of small tasks I can complete in 25 minutes or less.”

“I can organize these steps into a 20-minute process I do every morning first thing so it becomes a habit and I don’t have to think about it.”

If you see a team member struggling to get going,
try walking through this exercise with them.

If they’ve never cultivated creative problem-solving skills before,
allow for a few practice sessions together to get the hang of it
before you expect them to do it on their own

MYTH #4:  “I need to just put on my big girl pants, make myself get focused and stay focused”

It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be intensely focused constantly.  When we try to force ourselves into lengthy focus sessions, we experience focus fatigue, which sabotages creative thinking and induces mental distraction.

A more useful strategy is to work in timed focus sprints.

Prepare for successful a focus session by removing as many distractions as possible, i.e. turn off notifications, close other tabs on the computer, put a sign on your door, or remove yourself to another location if necessary.

Set your timer for 25 minutes.   Make it a game to accomplish a particular task or an aspect of a larger task before the timer goes off.

Then take a 5-minute break.  Get a drink, eat a healthy snack, stand up and stretch, then set the timer again.

You can do this repeatedly, but don’t go longer than 3 – 4 focus sprints at a time without taking a break of at least 15 – 30 minutes, and deliberately allow your mind and body to shift gears a bit to prevent focus fatigue.

It feels good to get things done and often, once we get rolling, the “want to” of motivation shows up and helps us.

Try using this technique to keep meetings concise and
productive, and for team brainstorming sessions.

Have you come up with other strategies?
In the comments below, share what’s been effective for you.

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