Finding Your Motivation

Date: Sunday, December 13, 2009 by GTD Times Staff

DavidAllenParkIn David Allen’s latest Productive Living newsletter, he wrote about the tricky business of motivation. Here’s more sage advice from David on that topic…

Q: How does one get motivated to do these things?  Yes, I can put pressure on myself;  know that I SHOULD do them, but there is pain and suffering that takes away any motivation to “do” things?

David Allen: If I had the magic key that could guarantee that it would get you motivated, I’d be the king of the world (which I’m not!).

I have been in the state you describe, and I think I know the feeling that nothing seems worthwhile to do. It is just a feeling, however, and feelings can change. The problem is, when you’re in that feeling, you see the world through that lens, and nothing is attractive.

I’ve found the best way to change that filter for me is physical movement.  To get my butt in gear about something, even the littlest thing, like walk around the block. Sometimes I just find things to do that don’t require much mental or emotional energy, like clean a drawer or closet, or weed a garden bed. It tends to force me into the driver’s seat of my own energy, and I start directing it in some positive way, as mundane as the activity may be.  Interacting with other people who have my best interests at heart and who hold a positive focus for and with me (instead of letting themselves be brought down with me – “misery loves company”, you know) is a real key for me too.  Sometimes writing in my journal helps.

Trust that there’s a part of you (though it might not be perceivable from your viewing point) that is connected to motivated energy. And imagine what you’d be like if you were, and what you’d likely be doing.

8 Responses to “Finding Your Motivation”

  1. So this true and so easy, whenever I just cannnot seem to get things moving on any day I just simply answer some emails or clean up an area and bam next thing I know I have gotten a ton done without much effort

  2. Catherine says:

    My work at the moment is minding my three small children at home. My rule of thumb is “when in doubt, empty the dishwasher”. I can’t tell you how many times this has roused me from the I-don’t-know-where-to-start feeling. Once I do that, I find myself doing the next thing and then the next and more often than not it gets me back on track.

  3. Flemming says:

    I too use a walk to clear my mind/get ready for the next action/start a conversation/etc. I find it effective and refreshing :-)

  4. Photon says:

    That’s exactly what happened to me when this year started(2009), in the last semester of high school(senior year).
    I just lost interest in almost everything, not motivated to do anything.

    We at school called it “Senioritis”.

    Labeling it didn’t convince me, and I had to do my research.

    That’s when I found GTD on YouTube, and got to know about it.
    And now I’m reading “Making It All Work”.

    @David Allen: You are awesome!

  5. Ed Wandling says:

    In college, when my roommate and I were trying to climb out of a funk, we started by cleaning the dorm room. To this day, when I am climbing out of a funk, I organize something in my physical world that has fallen into disarray. There is something demotivating about disorganization, and there is something about getting your “stuff” organized that helps move you in the right direction.

  6. Had a supervisor many years ago who would say to his workers when they lacked motivation, “do anything, even if it’s wrong, just do something.” We’d all laugh and get started but by the end of the day the jobs were always done. He knew that movement and getting started was better than being paralyzed by inactivity.

  7. Jerry S says:

    I was not at all motivated to do anything today. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 10. I just forced myself to do what I wanted to do and I didn’t care if it was bad.

    Motivation is emotional not logical. In reality, I did about as good a job as I would have had I been in the mood.

  8. TG Srinivasan says:

    Great Inspiration, David.
    And when I know that my life is worth living, if not for me, but for someone who needs it, i automatically bounce from my bed and begin my day with energy.
    When life is committed on a purpose, Motivation doesn’t need to be remembered; it becomes a part of life.
    Thanks, David…

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