Yes that tricky hot potato – motivation. What is it, how do we get it and, why do some things motivate us more than others?

Remember when we were children and we often asked the question “Why?” to anything our parents asked us to do: “Go to bed” – “Why?” “Eat your vegetables” – “Why?” “Put on your shoes” – “Why?”.

The “Why” question drove our parents crazy, however if you can remember back that far I bet you preferred a real answer rather than the ubiquitous “because”!

When it comes down to it we are no different to how we were as children – we need a reason to do something.

When we take a closer look at the motivation behind what we do and do not do there is a play between should and could, have to and would like to. It’s always the reason for doing something that motivates us – moves us into action – or not.

So with this in mind how can we get ourselves motivated?

Identifying the ‘why’

My first piece of advice would be to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Ask yourself:
What whole is this a part of?
What is the final destination that this is going to move me towards?

This is where your goals come into play. Often when I work with people who are feeling unmotivated it is because they cannot clearly see how doing A might lead to B. Also they sometimes have lost sight of B and therefore cannot join the dots. If you haven’t gained clarity about your own personal career goals then I suggest that is your first task. If you need help, then working with someone to clarify them is an excellent idea.

How committed are you?

Until you commit, any goal stays in the realm of desire. Commitment is fuelled by intention and when you find yourself unmotivated you need to question whether you still intend to complete this task. If you had to make the decision again would it still be yes? Ask yourself: “Am I hooked into it enough to start putting energy into it or is this just a nice idea?”

Until we have really bought into something we are not going to want it enough to commit energy to it. Sometimes we fool ourselves but the reality of the matter is that we obviously aren’t committed or we’d be doing it!

The Million-Dollar Question

One tip I find useful is the idea of the million-dollar question:

What would I be doing to reach this goal if someone was paying me a million dollars?

What would you be doing differently? How about some or all of the following?

 Schedule a time in your day when you will spend some time doing the research, preferably a time when you are energised not tired after a day at work. How about that lunch hour?

 Keep a reminder of the bigger picture, of what your new career will feel like and mean to you. Write out one sentence or pick a picture that represents the feeling and put somewhere visible (like stuck on the fridge) to remind you daily.

 Arrange for a good supportive friend to check in with you each week to see how you are doing. This is not so that they hold you accountable, but rather that they hold you accountable to yourself.

 Keep a journal of how you are doing. Write in it any successes you had in moving towards your new career. Acknowledge your accomplishments.

 Promise yourself a treat when you reach your goal.

Bring energy into your life with some small personal changes

Sometimes motivation doesn’t come directly from the project you’ve become disenchanted with – it can come from how you feel about yourself and the energy you bring to your life.

That’s why change in general is also a thing that you can do when feeling unmotivated.

Change something personal – is there something that you have been promising yourself but not got around to? It can be anything from taking that weekend workshop you like the look of, to learning a new skill, to something simple like changing your hairstyle or getting a massage.

What can you do to give yourself a general boost? How can you feel more enthused about your life? By being more excited about your life in general you can bring that energy to play with your new goal. Go on, give it a try – it can work wonders!

And finally…

Motivation is a very personal issue. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. These are just a few ideas and you will need to take some time to look at your situation and decide what will work best for you. Remember there is nothing nicer than ticking off something from your goals list!

About the Author
Jessica McGregor Johnson works internationally as a Life Fulfilment Coach. She offers a free introductory session to discuss how she can help you create the shift you want and feel excited about your career and life again. Contact or call 0203 239 6155 or visit

Jessica is also a Certified Passion Test Facilitator. The Passion Test is simple to take, fun to do and profoundly effective. For more information visit

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