I get asked these questions a great deal in coaching sessions:
How do we GET motivated?
How do we STAY motivated?
So you have something new you want to put in place and you want to feel motivated to achieve it. It could be a goal for your business or something more personal, perhaps to go to the gym three times a week or to help your kids keep on top of their homework, to go for that job promotion, make a career change or perhaps to market a new sideline in your business.
As soon as your 'lightbulb' moment comes in with your new idea you start to feel good. You are moving forward and creating something new..but how do we move from idea to creation and keep moving forward?
You find yourself thinking about making a change, considering the pros and cons to moving forward with your idea. You haven't made it happen yet but have started reflecting.
This is termed the 'contemplation stage' from Prochaska and Diclemente's Stages of Change model, 83, which we will be looking at in this blog.
You might be thinking, for example, 'if I go for that job promotion it will mean less time at home with my family but will give me a range of positive feelings and financial security.'
If you take on that new contract it will stretch your skill set and be challenging but you will feel more accomplished at the other other end!
You start to consider, weighing up both sides. You are in contemplation and as such this means that you have a level of motivation to consider change.
We call this the ‘preparation’ or ‘decision’ stage and at this point we decide to take action. You will start to enjoy this stage as once you have made a decision you then want to tell people about it!
'Hey I am going to take on this fabulous new contract with a new client and I have a chance to really stretch myself'
'I am going to book myself into the gym for an induction'
'I have booked to see a coach to look at changing my career!'
If you are at this point chances are you will be feeling really good as you have decided to take action!
You are going to probably find this the favourite stage and you know you are here 'in action' when you put your ideas into action. It is new enough to still feel exciting and you start to see results. You start going to the gym and notice your abs and how you are toning up, you start seeing your new clients and agreeing work, you outline the outcomes you want to see with your coach and start achieving them or you go to your college lessons, perhaps start writing the first chapter for your new book.
This is where you and other people start to see a tangible difference in you.
You are motivated and doing! Motivation is high.
Now this is where the STAYING motivated comes in.
In the first few weeks you will be working on your goals and achieving a difference, perhaps a month later you will probably still be feeling motivated to keep on with your changes.
However 6 months down the line it can sometimes be tricky to stay motivated and 'keep on keeping on'.
Playgrounds, playmates, playtoys, as we used to call it in group coaching sessions for problematic alcohol use, can get in the way!
Playgrounds - your environment might not be conducive to feeling motivated. It might be tricky to get to the gym three times a week as it means a longer drive or your home environment makes it hard for you to write that book. So having an environment that supports your progress can help you to keep in maintenance with your motivation.
Playmates - your friends and colleagues might not always agree with you and there might be some discouragement. So to keep motivation levels up it's important to elicit support from those helpful 'playmates'! I, for example, find networking really helpful and coaching supervision to keep me focused on my business and self-care goals. Who has your back?
Playtoys - these are the items that can get in the way of you keeping motivated such as procrastination at your work station by checking facebook, going for snacks or other 'toys'! So make sure you have playtoys that support maintenance such as your gym bag packed and ready to go or perhaps training booked in to up your skills.
Long term change
The only stage that is further around the cycle than maintenance is long term change and that is where you are SO motivated with your changes you don't even think about it anymore. In this stage you are motivated everyday without thinking, you are the change!
The non smoker who forgets they ever smoked, the business person with new clients who are already a part of their business life and they are working every day now to keep the contracts ticking over, the writer who writes every day without considering how to keep motivated or the dancer who has 4 hours a day already planned for dance without it being a conscious effort.
So recognising the stage you are in on the Stages of Change model can be helpful to your motivation as it helps you to recognise which step you are moving towards. We can go back and forward through the stages too.
In my coaching I help coachees with motivational shifts. Here are some of the questions I get asked when we talk about motivation:
“What would you suggest I do to ‘keep on keeping on?"
“Is there a way to ensure I have a daily schedule that keeps me motivated on my projects?
“What can I do to ensure I do 20 mins of dance practice a day'”
“Can I manage it all with my family and work commitments and how can I do this?”
“How can I keep motivated long term?”
Unfortunately there are no secrets to this or a magic wand that can be waved. However as well as working out where you are and where you would like to be on the stages of change model here are 4 helpful strategies taken from my coaching:
1 Work out your drivers
Motivation can be defined as ‘what drives people to behave in certain ways, in terms of their needs, aspirations and goals’. (Maslow, 43 & McClelland, 61)
Motivational Interviewing (Rollnick & Miller, 95) describes how ‘impetus for change’ comes from your own ‘intrinsic motives and goals’. We are looking at how our needs, aspirations and goals are motivational.
Daniel Goleman in his book ‘Working With Emotional Intelligence‘ has a whole chapter on ‘what moves us’. He looks at motivational competences held by outstanding performers.
Let’s have a look at these and see if you can recognise which ones are applicable to you.
Those who strive to ‘improve or meet standards of excellence’. People who are really results orientated, like to set challenging goals, work on improvement from feedback and their reward is really what they will achieve. That keeps them going.
This tends to link to those of us who really get motivated and stay motivated when linked to having a sense of purpose, when we are with others, or linked to organisational goals. For example, I recognise myself in this one when it is connected to being involved in dance practice with my dance class, working on new group choreographies, practicing as a group with a group vision of a performance in mind.
In his book Goleman outlines how these competencies ‘mobilise people to seize opportunities and allow them to take setbacks and obstacles in their stride’. The main driver here is optimism, of being able to achieve what we set out to do, and the fear of failure is much less. People who are driven by this tend to be able to seek their own goals rather than have external events motivate them. They tend to be proactive and also anticipate what is coming.
When we are looking at maintaining change – keeping motivated –recognising what drives you can really help.
You can of course have a mixture of all 3 but which one of these drivers helps motivate you?
Which driver works for you to keep in that motivational mindset whether you are in 'action'
'maintenance' or even 'contemplation'?
2 Avoid the P.I.G.
The P.I.G. is the problem of immediate gratification!
The thinking or systems for rewarding yourself that are getting right in the way of the motivational mindset. Can you see him coming?!
Humans are conditioned to want rewards, to want good things… not a problem usually, but the trouble is when we want them and we want them NOW!
The sure way to get off track is to give in to the wants and desires that get in the way of keeping motivated with our goals.
It could be the writer who procrastinates, the gym member who goes into the gym cafe for a breakfast but then ‘runs out of time to do a workout’, the person being careful with what they eat who finds it hard to say no to the cake or take the extra glass of wine. The goals can seem really far away when we are in the immediate.
A good question to ask yourself when you become distracted from staying on track with motivation is, “‘who are you fooling?”.
When you give into the immediate gratification – short term gain that leads to long term pain. Give yourself a reward yes, that’s good, but just watch it doesn’t lead to a slip back to where you started.
However, if you can recognise these you can squash that PIG… oh that little pig is too cute..oink!
3 Work out what works
Strengths based coaching helps us to recognise what is working and do more of that. We often feel we have to be totally different when this is often not the case. There will be situations where motivation is working for you, it is simple to get motivated and stay motivated and it’s worth noting what those are and when this is.
What time are you at your most productive?
Think back to a time when you made a change and sustained it, you were totally motivated to keep on keeping on and were in that motivational mindset.
It could be a mantra you have – a change statement. An image. The positive visualisation of the goal. A new piece of jewellery, a meal out or a holiday when you have achieved your set targets (that pleasurable long term gain).
Think back to times you stayed motivated because you kept it simple, regular and achievable – it worked because you did not overwhelm yourself with too much so you gave up before you started. If I talk to professional dancers for example they will tell me they have a routine every day that makes it a habit and don’t overcomplicate it.
4 Link it to happiness
We only have one life so let’s use it wisely and get motivated to do things and make changes because it gives us joy. Linking our goals with our values helps no end to keep us motivated. What will be the end result, what will it give you and others around you?
So if you are interested in doing work on motivation please get in touch. Here is a little about my coaching.
I set up Mariposa Coaching with a portfolio of facilitating over 1600 workshops, working with 40 clients a week, an accredited facilitator of over 10 CBT based programmes and staff trainer I wanted to take my skills to a wider audience. I consolidated previous learning by completing training in coaching psychology approaches at The Centre for Coaching, London with certification in Stress Management and Performance Coaching.
Mariposa Coaching started off by providing 1:1 coaching, master classes and training to a range of clients. Some of the first of these were delivering in house training for well known engineering companies, in Bristol in stress management and worklife balance. I now have a freelance contract to deliver post graduate training for Educational Advisors who are medical consultants (surgeons, psychiatrists) in coaching and mentoring skills as part of their non clinical training for medical education for the Severn Deanery NHS Trust. I am one of Meningitis Now's coaching practitioners which has been amazing. Companies have attended work life balance, wellbeing to thrive in the workplace and stress management workshops and booked me for leadership and influencing skills coaching for staff retention and performance. I am particularly passionate about delivering talks and coaching to staff within companies to enhance effective team communication and influencing skills for leadership.
I have a practice a few miles from Bristol City centre in Flax Bourton, next to Long Ashton and a quiet tranquil room which provides a place for reflective space for the coaching work. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07811 740580 to book your free 30 mins initial consultation!
Wellbeing is essential to optimum performance and growth and helping others to have satisfying lives and to live well underlies my work.