Maintaining Motivation: A Foot in the Door | Center for Growth Therapy

Maintaining Motivation: A Foot in the Door

Maintaining Motivation: Therapy in Philadelphia, Ocean City, Mechanicsville, Santa Fe

Do you often find yourself struggling to get things done at home once you’ve had a full day at work or school? If so, you aren’t alone! Many people have a hard time keeping momentum when the temptations of couches, beds, televisions or computer screens are present. So why does this happen and how can we help?

Before we get into why this dip in motivation might happen for some people, let's talk about how to get started in bringing the motivation back or increasing it. This is a simple trick that has benefits beyond just getting things done, it helps with developing good habits that can be hard to stick to, and it’s just this: keep your shoes and/or work clothes on when you get home. Yep, that’s it! Let’s explore the roots of this tip some more.

The Definition of Maintaining Motivation:

Motivation, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something : the act or process of motivating someone, the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated, or a force or influence that causes someone to do something”. So when our motivation dips, like when we get home, it could be because you don’t feel a reason to complete something, eager to complete something, or influenced by any outside force to do something.

So how may it look in real life? Maybe a dip in maintaining motivation looks or feels like procrastination--that something doesn’t need to be done right away. Possibly, it could come out as preferring to do something else over something on the to-do list because TV or scrolling social media sounds better than laundry or the dishes. Or, it could be because no one has asked you to do anything in particular, so you don’t know where to start. When switching gears from “work brain” to “home brain” we could fall into any of these pitfalls of motivation through taking off our shoes and getting comfy on the couch to figure it out. This makes it easier to get cozy and not want to do anything else for the rest of the night.

But when we leave our shoes and work clothes on, our brains are more likely to stay in the “get things done” mode so that you can make it to comfy mode once things are done. So, stay dressed, stand in the kitchen, make a list of reasonable things that must be done, and don’t get comfy on the couch or in PJ’s and slippers until the work is done.

Now, the word reasonable was highlighted for a reason! Sometimes we way over plan or over schedule ourselves, so much so that it may not even be feasible to get everything on the list done. This is where prioritizing and breaking large tasks into smaller ones can help with maintaining motivation as well! So, it may *sound* feasible to clean the whole house in one day, but when struggling with lack of motivation that may be daunting or a task so large we feel we need to relax and “build up” motivation for, leading to procrastination or avoidance. Making lists reasonable and feasible is one way to not fall into this motivational pit fall, very much like keeping on your shoes or work clothes does, but how do you actually do it?

Deciding what is actually feasible and what isn’t can be hard to decipher. Some tricks I like to use include prioritizing based on date “due” and size of project. First, look for what items are coming up next or need to be done the soonest. Start with that item and break it down into bite sized pieces until the due date. Have a big project with no real due date, like cleaning the house? Aim to tackle just one task each day, like just one sink of dishes, that way you feel accomplished and motivated to keep it up the next day instead of burning yourself out. Have energy left over after that one task you set up for yourself? Feel free to tackle another if you have energy, but don’t put the pressure on yourself that it *must* get done! Putting too many or too large of tasks on your list can push you to avoid or lose motivation if the list looks too overwhelming, so also adding some fun self-care things you like to your list can keep you pushing on!

Even though it may seem like such a small feat, implementing this tip may help with maintaining motivation! If this tip helps you and you would like to explore your own motivation, habit formation or executive function, on a more individual level, feel free to book an appointment with one of our skilled motivational therapists or call 215-922-5683 x 100.



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