Motivational Momentum

Authors: Alexandra Salerno, LPC, NCC and Donato Fanelle, MA

“If you want to achieve greatness – stop asking for permission” – Eddie Colla

Feeling motivated every day is tough. Maybe we feel like we need “to earn something” in order to move forward. Or maybe we find ourselves asking permission to do what we want to do, without there being an expectation attached. With the current pandemic, motivation seems completely out of reach and more “impossible” than ever. So … what do we do about this? How do we get “motivated?”

For starters, motivation can present itself in a four ways. Once we identify which type of motivation is coming up for us, we can then decide how to proceed forward.

  • Intrinsic Motivation – this motivation is done for internal reasons and may align with a value or something we feel proud of within ourselves (i.e. playing for the love of the game, feeling a sense of accomplishment from working hard). With this motivation, we may feel more “in flow” and on track with what we are doing; we may experience an increase in positive emotions and confidence.
  • Extrinsic Motivation – this motivation comes from “outside of us.” We may feel impelled to pursue a task, when we know that a reward may be present (i.e. taking out the trash, results in $10.00 at the end of the week). Even if we don’t enjoy the task, the reward can be something we find value in.
  • Introjected Motivation – very similar to intrinsic motivation in terms of coming from an internal place. However, feelings of guilt and tension come up if we don’t do or complete the task (i.e. doing a team workout and feeling tired. As a result, you may make modifications versus doing the workout in its entirety.
  • Identified Motivation – this motivation occurs when we know that something needs done, and we haven’t decided what to do about it (i.e. knowing that we want to play a sport, and not looking into the details of how to join, timeline, etc.  

What causes motivation?

This is the million-dollar question. Typically motivation is generated from our biological, emotional, and physical circumstances. In short, the answer is simply: ourselves.

However, a person’s outlook on life (positive, neutral, negative perspective) can influence how motivated someone feels. A negative perspective is often associated with low levels of motivation, and a neutral perspective can be helpful to remain focused on the task.

Motivation versus Momentum

Motivation acts as the “why” we want to do something; maybe this is to see external  results, or internal positive feelings. What can be helpful to think about is how to generate momentum, which acts as the “how.” Most times, we know what we want to do, but the toughest part is often just getting started. Reflecting on our “why,” setting goals that we want to accomplish and breaking them down into small, manageable steps can be a great place to start! Remember, it’s not always worth it to try harder; trying smarter can get you the same results. And the first step doesn’t need to be perfect, you just need to take it!

How do we generate momentum?

Once we have identified the type of motivation we are experiencing and have thought about the ultimate goal we would like to accomplish, we can then begin to build momentum to slingshot us into this direction.

  • Think BIG – recognize and amplify your motivations for change. Know your “why” in developing this new habit or curbing an old one. Remain open to growth and transformation of your motivation over time.
  • Develop a Plan– Identify the areas in your life that impact the problem and then identify the supports that can influence the change you would like to see. Continue to build on these supports day after day – it takes time!
  • Trust Yourself – Tell the story of your adventure as it unfolds. Make this effort significant by focusing on your inner dialogue (and make it positive!)  

Try it: close your eyes, take in a deep breath and focus on your goal. See yourself engaging in the activity of your choice. Trust yourself and think BIG. Feel yourself taking effective action. See yourself being successful. Build that momentum, open your eyes, put one foot in front of the other and go!

“Everyone wants to strive for greatness. But do you want to do something great, or do you want to be great?” – Jon Gordon