Habits and Motivation: Master Both for Big Results
Founder & CEO of Lifehack
Do you struggle to feel motivated in certain aspects of your life?
Whether it’s in your studies, your career, your fitness, or just your day to day routine… we don’t always ‘enjoy’ every minute of what we’re doing. And, it’s normal to have days where you may feel a little less motivated or energized.
But, if you’re constantly finding a lack of motivation throughout your day, then you might need to start digging deeper to find out why.
Gaining motivation is easier than you may think. And, it goes hand in hand with–none other than–your habits!
You may wonder “what do habits have to do with feeling motivated?” Many people don’t consider habits as a key factor of their personal success because they simply see them as routines. They don’t necessarily make the connection to personal success.
And, that’s because most people associate external factors with success — such as luck, education, or family background. While habits are largely internal, they are often overlooked.
But, the truth is, habits dictate almost every aspect of our lives.
They are responsible for the majority of our daily actions from big to small. Think about how you begin your day, what you typically eat for lunch, or even the way you commute to work. Each one of these are habits!
Habits are Responsible for Motivating or Demotivating Us
Because habits are so ingrained in our lives, they also affect our motivation levels. Certain habits or routines that we pick up encourage motivation in us, while others may distract, drain or demotivate us.
So, the solution to staying motivated is to learn how to control your habits, so that you can steer and use them as a tool to create consistent and systematic inputs or actions towards an output or outcome that you want to achieve. In this case, feeling motivated again!
The first step to controlling your habits, is to know exactly what a habit is, how it is formed, and how to make and break habits to construct better use of your time.
The Two Type of Habits
There are two types of habits: conscious habits and hidden habits.
Conscious habits are habits that are easy to recognize. Usually, they require conscious input for you to keep them up. If you remove that input or attention, the habit would most likely go away. It’s easy to identify these conscious habits and you can quickly review them yourself.
Examples of conscious habits include waking up to an alarm every morning, or going for an evening run everyday.
Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that our brains have already turned into auto-pilot mode. We are generally completely unaware of them until some external factors or sources reveal it, such as someone pointing out your behavior to you.
Yet, hidden habits make up majority of our habits! They have become internalized into our lifestyle and decision making process, so you almost don’t realize it when a habit is ‘acting up’.
Take some time to think through your habits and try to determine which ones are hidden, and which ones are conscious habits. Also, think about whether or not they’re habits that contribute to you feeling positive and motivated.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what habits are, let’s move on to motivation.
How Motivation Manifests
Whether you’re aware of it or not, motivation is a huge force in your life; and it needs to be harnessed so that you can make the most of it.
Though, many people think of being either motivated or demotivated as a simple “on” or “off” switch.
But, motivation is a flow, not a switch.
What I mean is this: motivation is composed of various layers, starting from the core and flowing out to the surface.The surface is what you see, but the real process is driven from the core; and that’s the most important part.
To better understand this flow, I’ve broken it down into 3 parts:
Support – Enablers
Surface – Acknowledgement
Core – Your Purpose
Enablers are what support your goals. This could be people, finances, or anything that helps or enables you to reach your goals. They will magnify the core you have or increase any momentum that you build.
Acknowledgement is any type of external recognition that motivates you, such as respect, compliments and praise, emotional support, feedback, or constructive criticism.
It could also be found through affiliation of others who share the same goal as you.
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Acknowledgement is most often what you see on the surface when you look at other people’s external recognition or prestige.
And, finally, the true force behind your Motivation flow is the innermost core – your Purpose.
Purpose is a Pre-requisite to Motivation
Having a purpose is what separates the motivated from the demotivated.
Knowing what your purpose is, no matter what you are doing, will help you form habits and routines that can drive unlimited motivation.Your purpose derives from two things: Having Meaning, and Forward Movement.
So, how do you do these two things?
Having Meaning is simple. Just ask yourself a question: Why?
Why are you going after a certain goal? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivation will be vague and unclear.
Even though motivation provides you the energy to do something, that energy needs to be focused somewhere, or else it has nowhere to go!
Yet, Having Meaning isn’t as complex as it may seem. The only guidelines is that it should add value to something or someone that matters to you.
Next, is gaining Forward Movement. In short, it means that you just keep going towards your goal through momentum. And, to keep up this momentum, you have to keep moving forward.
Even small amounts of progress can be just as motivating, as long as they keep coming.
Creating a simple progress indicator like checklists or milestones, are a great way to visualize your small (and big) wins. They trigger your brain to recognize and acknowledge them, giving you small boosts of motivational energy.
Motivation and Habits Rely on One Another
I hope you can now see how motivation and habits go hand in hand.There is an alignment in your routines, your roles and responsibilities, which will reduce any distractions causing you to feel demotivated!
By knowing what your purpose is, you can be mindful of your habits, assess and improve on them, and your motivation will automatically increase because you’re creating positive trends and working towards something that you truly want.