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The Best Way to Get Motivated

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In a sense, intrinsically motivated people enjoy the process of what they are doing, whereas extrinsically motivated folks see the eventual goal as their primary motivating force, even though the process of reaching it may not seem particularly fun or even worthwhile.

Goals are useful because they help to focus attention and energy to act effectively, but process is what gets you to the goal. This is equally true for career goals, fitness goals and all other personal goals. By disregarding the process, or enduring an unpleasant one, your entire effort may be undermined. If you don’t truly enjoy the process of doing what you do, you risk burnout and run a greater chance of eventually abandoning the goal. Because no distant reward, however glittery, can provide the same kind of day-to-day, experiential sustenance required for optimal performance that moment-to-moment passion, enjoyment and engagement can.

A Simple Rule

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that the more you enjoy doing something, the more of it you will do. So, it’s important to think about how you can find or make more enjoyment in what you’re already doing.

First, it’s essential to realize that nearly anything can be enjoyable. Washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, even brushing your teeth can be made fun if you have a plan an approach that focuses your attention. For example, you could start by washing all the small things, then moving to the larger ones. Or you could vacuum the floor by making a different pattern in the carpet each time. By making mundane things a game, you can restructure how you experience them, so that even if they aren’t the most thrilling activity, at least they are tolerable.

Second, don’t overload yourself. Let’s take the example of a workout routine. I’m a bit of an imbecile when it comes to working out, or at least I used to be. My old approach could be summed up as “do as much as I can as fast as I can.” Usually, I’d end up feeling tense, miserable and sick after trying to run around the track as many times as I could at a fairly quick pace.

Admittedly, this was really mindless, unpleasant and ineffective. But this obsessive approach is a common one. A more gradual approach is much kinder and more effective. The key for me was getting my mind off some external benchmark and onto enjoying the evolving experience of the activity.

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

330 comments

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6:17PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

fantabulous!

6:30PM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Ta for posting.

8:31AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

thanks for sharing

12:30PM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

I definitely agree. What's the point in a goal if you don't enjoy the journey getting there? You might get hit by a bus tomorrow and never reach what you were after, and wouldn't it be a shame to do all that slogging for nothing?

3:35PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Thanks for that article.

10:57AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

fantastic article!

5:19AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

I ask myself, in the different phases of my life, "What is it that I want most of all? What is my goal for this time period?"

Once I know what my major goal is, I line everything in life up by that goal. It's easy to get motivated. I just remember what I want most of all....my goal, my purpose.

If the excitement of reaching for my goal phases out, I go back to the question "What is it that I want most of all? What is my goal for this time period?"

Works for me.

4:40AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Love it!

11:04AM PST on Mar 9, 2012

I totally agree that if you don't enjoy the process of reaching your goel, you're not going to be happy with the outcome, and the work you did along the way will be low quality and confused. As a consummer would you want a distracted lawyer, Dr., Dentist, banker, server, cook, anything? I find it odd that our culture seems to pay the most to those who bring the least conscious attention to their work, and little or nothing to mothers/homemakers and teachers of our kids, small organic growers and others who do very important work.That's not always the case, of course, but it would be interesting if people only got paid when ever their brains registered a high degree of joyful involvement with what they were doing.

6:44AM PST on Mar 9, 2012

Thanks

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