Raise Your Motivation With Inventory, Mindset & Play

Raise your motivation by taking inventory, shifting your mindset, and increasing play.

Do You Need to Raise Your Motivation?

Are you feeling unmotivated?

Do you feel weighed down by a ton of “shoulds?”

Does the pressure of all those shoulds block your flow?

This morning I woke up realizing how bogged down I am feeling by the shoulds in my life. I realized that these shoulds are not in alignment with what I want to do and how I want to do it. It got me thinking about how our “To Do” list gets all tangled up and weighted down by shoulds that are mislabeled as needs and wants or vice versa. Such a mess kills motivation and clogs up creativity. So here’s what I recommend:

How to Raise Your Motivation

Take Inventory

Start raising your motivation by taking inventory. Create two columns on a blank page. In the first column list out of all the tasks on your “To Do” list. Make it a total brain dump. Then, in the second column identify the “why” for each task. For each why, quickly decide if it’s a need, want, or should. Write and circle your answer next to the task. Then take a closer look. As you determine whether a task and your why are a need, want, or should, feel into your body. Connect with how each task sparks joy or dread; excitement or stress. Be prepared to shift your thinking. 

Laptop, headphones, notepad and a board with list of "thing to do" NUmber one is Own the Day.
Photo Credit: Emma Matthews

Motivation as Mindset

“Need” Tasks

Make sure you take the time to challenge the “need” tasks. Who is telling you the task is necessary. What is the consequence if you don’t do it? Is it important? Or urgent? Is it really a need? Will it move you forward towards your top goals? How can you reframe it to raise your motivation?

Honestly, losing weight is one of the “needs” that sits heavily on my “To Do” list. Where is this need coming from? It comes from a long line of doctors that say nothing good can come from the number on my scale. It comes from a lifetime of cultural messaging that only thin is healthy; only thin is beautiful. It comes from my internal messaging of embarrassment and shame.  (Check out Amy Porterfield’s Talking Body podcast series for excellent discussions on these ingrained social distortions and their ramifications.)

I have spent the past 7 years dedicated to losing weight and I’ve got to tell you I’m exhausted. My motivation is worn down to the bone when I think exclusively of losing weight. However, when I switch my focus to healing my insulin resistance, I feel far more empowered and patient. Changing these numbers will move the needle on my health! Understanding that years of damage to my metabolism through severe restriction and an over-reliance on carbohydrates cannot be undone overnight has helped me to hold steady with my keto lifestyle. This is a recent mindset shift that has allowed me to feel more motivated, breathe more easily, and treat myself more kindly. 

Keto Diet spelled out in scrabble letters with a knife above and a fork below
Photo Credit: Liam Johnson

“Want Tasks”

When you look at your list push yourself on your “wants.” Does the task make you feel good? Or does it weigh you down? Does it directly relate to one of your high priority goals? Where does the task fall in the order of things? If it feels good and connects to your goals, maybe it is a need. Then again, maybe, because of the order of things, it’s not yet a need. And those “wants” that feel heavy and aren’t connected to high priority goals, likely are shoulds.

My desire to dive deep into all resources related to brain injury is one of my “wants” that at the core is both a need and a should. With my new understanding that a major source of my health challenges is a brain injury, I feel like I NEED to learn as much as possible and I SHOULD have done it all yesterday. Learning about brain injury is definitely important and valuable. I feel some urgency too. But the reality is neither the information nor I am going anywhere. I am making slow and steady inroads. Some solid treatment methods (neurofeedback and keto) are in progress while other new ones (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and DNA analysis) are getting started. I don’t actually have the mental, energetic or temporal bandwidth to do much more right now. I need to let go of the shoulding that is killing my flow.

A print out full of yellow stickies representing author's information overload killing her motivation
Photo Credit: Daria Nepriakhina

“Should” Tasks

Challenging the “should” tasks will also help to raise your motivation. Ask yourself: Where is the should coming from? How is it serving you, if at all? Is it sourced from inspiration or obligation? Can you toss those perceived obligations off your list? Let them go! Then again, if the task sources from inspiration and feeds your goals, it may be time to change your mindset. Maybe it’s really a want or a need. Maybe when you get still you realize how important it is to you. 

As an embarrassing example, I have been shoulding on myself about writing Christmas Thank you notes for too long now. The more time that passes, the more guilty I feel for being a total ingrate. I should have done this weeks ago, I should be better than this, I should… The more I should on myself, the harder it is to motivate myself to get it done. But if I get still, think about the why, and feel into it, I am totally clear that I WANT to tell my Loved Ones how blown away I am by their thoughtful generosity. I NEED them to know how grateful I am for their presence in my life even when  Covid keeps us at such a distance. By connecting to the desire behind the task, I feel inspired and motivated. 

A white note card with "thank you very much" on the front.
Photo Credit: Jon Tyson

Use Play to Raise Your Motivation

Now, with a final pass over your “To Do” list, identify where there are elements of play. Where are you having fun? What brings you happiness? Delight?Joy? Uh-oh! Are these elements missing? What can you do to integrate them into your activities; bring them alive? When you awaken the playful child within, tasks indeed become activities, events, and adventures. They draw you in, begging you to engage. The push becomes a pull and allows the flow to return.

Motivate by Celebrating Your Wins

Celebration of your wins tightly ties into the benefits of play and raising your motivation. When was the last time you acknowledged a win? Do you wait until you have a big win or are you taking the time to celebrate daily the small, individual wins? Take the time! When you celebrate your wins, you are reinforcing your good work, propelling yourself forward with appreciation and gratitude. Lean into this! Hear it! Feel it! Celebrate!

How Will You Raise Your Motivation?

Feeling stuck and unmotivated?

When will you use this exercise to find your flow again?

How will you plug into your why?

How will you play and celebrate today?

A woman behind a large, colorful geometric design on a brick wall playing and celebrating with big balloons in front of her face.
Photo Credit: Lydia Nada