27 September 2023

Finding your Monday motivation

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Leon Ho* suggests ways to find the motivation that keeps you looking forward to getting out of bed and beginning the working week.

It’s Monday morning and the alarm goes off. What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you open your eyes?

Are you excited to get up and go to work, or are you dreading the day and week ahead?

Whatever your response may be, ask yourself these questions:

“What is it that makes you feel unmotivated?” What’s driving you to feel negative or positive about your Monday ahead?

You likely know of people who have been doing the same thing for years and seem to not have any problem with it.

They get along just fine without progressing towards anything better.

On the other hand, I’m sure you also know of individuals who focus on the positive, setting goals and are constantly pushing themselves to greater heights.

These individuals seem to constantly progress towards something that improves or enhances their life.

So what’s the difference between these two types?

What you feel capable of doing comes down to one thing: Motivation.

It’s the force, or lack of, that keeps driving you forward to overcome challenges and obstacles to achieve your goals.

Without motivation, you’ll give up after a few failed attempts, or even on the first tough challenge that comes your way.

Or you’ll just remain where you are: Unhappy yet not doing anything to progress ahead.

Unfortunately, many overgeneralise motivation. We think of being either motivated or unmotivated as a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ state of being.

However, motivation is not a switch. It is a flow.

To feel motivated, you need to dive beyond the surface.

Just reading a motivational quote, being encouraged by your friends or mentor, or writing out a short to-do list won’t help you build sustainable motivation.

If you can create a self-sustaining motivation engine, you’ll be able to find more meaning in your life and enjoy every minute of what you’re doing, which will make your roles and responsibilities less of a chore.

Let me help you understand this motivation flow better by breaking down the motivation engine into three parts.

The outer layer — surface

The outermost layer, also known as acknowledgement, encompasses any type of external recognition that might give you motivation.

It may come in the form of respect or recognition, such as compliments and praise.

Or it could be emotional support through encouragement, feedback, and constructive criticism.

It’s important to recognise that rewards will motivate you, but they won’t necessarily make you happier in an undesirable situation.

This is generally what you see on the surface when you look at other people. You see the external acknowledgement, respect, and recognition they’re getting.

The middle layer — support

The second layer of the motivation engine, also known as enablers, is what supports your goals.

They can magnify the motivation core you have, or speed up the momentum that you build.

Basically, they create favourable circumstances for things to go smoothly.

If you want to know how to find motivation, positive enablers are the key.

This could include friends and family, or any support network you’ve created in life.

The innermost layer — core

What’s most important, and the true driving force behind your motivation flow, is the innermost core, your purpose.

This is what differentiates the motivated from the unmotivated, the achievers from the underachievers, the happy from the unhappy.

It is sustained by two things: Having meaning, and forward movement.

With these two as a foundation, you’ll have a power source that will feed you motivational energy indefinitely.

Why are you pursuing a certain goal? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same.

While motivation provides you the energy to do something; that energy needs to be focused somewhere.

So without meaning, there is no direction for your energy to focus.

Yet, having a meaningful objective doesn’t mean you have to change the world or have a huge impact on society.

The secret to meaningful work is simple: It should contribute value to something or someone that matters to you.

Next up is gaining forward movement. In short, this means to just keep moving.

Like a snowball, motivation from having progress creates momentum. So to keep this up, you have to keep moving.

The good news is your progress doesn’t have to be huge for you to recognise it.

Small amounts of progress can be just as motivating, as long as they keep coming.

Creating a simple progress indicator, like checklists or milestones, is a great way to visualise your small (and big) wins.

They trigger your brain to recognise and acknowledge them, giving you small boosts of motivational energy.

Why not take some time today and do a quick reflection of where you’re at now? Take one aspect of your life that you’d like to progress further in.

For example, it may be your current job. Start with your why. Write down your reasons for why you’re in the job that you’re in.

Then, think about your motivation core: your purpose. Write down what it is within your job that gives you meaning, and what are some things that will help push you forward in life.

Once you have those points, it’s time to do a comparison. Does your current job help you make progress towards the purpose that you’ve written?

Do your best to not focus on the negative. Review your goals and aim yourself in a positive direction, even if it means you start small.

Happiness doesn’t need to be a vague term or illusion that you’re constantly chasing after with no end in sight.

By finding your true motivation, you’ll be one step closer to realising your happiness and finding meaning in everything you do.

*Leon Ho is the founder and Chief Executive of Lifehack. He has been listed among Business Week’s Top 24 Young Asian Entrepreneurs.

This article first appeared on the Lifehack website.

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