Motivation Doesn't Work, Try These Creative Solutions Instead

Most of us start with the best of intentions and make long lists of things we would like to accomplish at the start of the year. We quickly realise that it is hard to stay motivated. Do successful people even have days of low motivation? How do we deal with a lack of motivation?

It can be frustrating when you feel stuck or don't have the willpower to keep going. There are days when drawing feels effortless and there are days when sketching a line can be frustrating. So, how do we stay focused on the days we don't feel motivated?

We might look to google and ask 'how to stay motivated?'

Motivation can fail.

We look up posts on motivation because we want to see a positive shift in our behaviour, ideas, thoughts, identity, surroundings, and interpersonal relationships. We want to understand how to get from our current state to the person who achieves the dreams that we have.

Motivation at its very essence is simply a desire to do. But it is a feeling. Emotions and feelings fluctuate and change constantly. External circumstances or events can also affect your motivation and leave you feeling out of control.

The problem with relying on motivation is that it tricks you into believing that you require it to get moving. You might believe motivation is the reason you bother to get anything done. But of course, that is not true. A lack of motivation is normal and should be expected from time to time.

Fortunately, you don't need to wait to be struck by motivation to get you through hard days. Here are three techniques that can get you through when you need some help staying on track.

1. Ulysses strategy

Have you ever tried to go grocery shopping when you are very hungry? You go in intending to pick vegetables and fruits to make a healthy meal but then you step out with an easy fix, a prepackaged meal with some chocolate biscuits. This happens to me every time! We start with the best intentions but end up feeling like we failed because we did not keep to our plan. So, what went wrong? Did your motivation fail?

Motivation levels fluctuate all the time.

Humans are not always rational and in control. We can get easily swayed by the slightest of distractions, and these distractions don't necessarily align with our desires. In the example above, the need to eat was much more powerful than the desire to make a healthy meal.

Instead of forcing yourself or trying to fight your nature, the Ulysses Pact requires you to use a creative method to approach your goals. This system works because it acknowledges that humans are not always in control, as much as we would like to believe that.

The Ulysses Pact is a behavioural technique that enables us to make a present-day decision that binds us to or "locks us in" to a future action, usually through an organised system of external constraints, incentives or disincentives.

Remove all distractions to improve motivation.

If you struggle to draw consistently because you end up playing on your PlayStation, you could unplug it and put it away in another room. This method ensures that when you walk into your workspace you only notice your drawing materials. You have removed the distractions that take you away from your work.

Want to take your commitment up a notch? You could also offer to give a friend $10 every time you skip your scheduled drawing hours. This way you lose money every time you do not show up to draw and are more likely to stick to your goals.

2. Productive Procrastination

Okay, I confess I am a serial procrastinator. If you are human, I am sure you can relate to that. I can get so overwhelmed with certain tasks that I don't even realise that I have been procrastinating.

Procrastinators rarely do absolutely nothing. Indeed, they do relatively useful things - like catching up on emails or sharpening pencils! They are just trying to avoid doing the tough assignment at hand, like drawing.

This practice can ruin our ability to feel responsible and trust ourselves. Our minds naturally crave novelty, fun and excitement instead of hard work. But what if we did not fight this tendency, instead fit it into our lives?

Try productive procrastination to improve motivation.

Perhaps you are trying to stay motivated to keep up your sketching habit every evening and find that you procrastinate by watching YouTube videos. Instead of fighting it, you could watch a drawing video that inspires you and then sketch after that. Make sure to keep it to one or two videos; otherwise, the point would be lost.

By permitting yourself to procrastinate in a structured and deliberate way you forgo the likelihood of procrastinating in non-significant ways.

3. Chunking

Occasionally what appears to be a lack of motivation can be confusion or ambiguity. Understanding what you need to do and in what order is the simplest way to get a task done.

Chunking is a method used in cognitive psychology that is used to break and group separate elements of information into a coherent whole.

Big tasks such as learning how to draw anatomy can seem daunting and might stop you from starting. What you can do is divide the task into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish.

The chances are that you will give up quickly if you try to memorise every single bone and muscle that makes up the human body. However, breaking it down into - landmarks, proportions, surface anatomy of muscles, simplified head, torso, hips and limbs will take the pressure off the learning process.

By breaking down an intimidating topic, we can accomplish bigger tasks easily and increase our sense of conviction.

goal setting exercise

Need help breaking down your Goals? Download my goal-setting pdf sheets. Gain clarity in what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there with my prompts to get you started.

Motivation is a limited notion

I hope that you are starting to realise that feeling motivated is a fleeting emotion. We cannot rely on willpower to get things done.

You don't need motivation to achieve your dreams and aspirations. Setting the right goals, formulating a plan, implementing meaningful change, and establishing good habits can prepare you to take initiative.

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