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6 Ways to Make Motivation a Verb Motivation is internal, regardless of your external circumstances.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Motivation isn't something you have, it is something you do. It is normal and natural to go through business lulls where your career isn't as invigorating or inspiring as it once was, and that is because familiarity often breeds contempt. A lack of motivation is commonplace in and out of any relationship you have in life. When you are feeling unmotivated, uninspired or like your emotional resources are depleted this is when you need to keep going. Learn to shake things up, communicate, take control, break up the familiarity, stop being the victim and keep yourself moving forward.

1. Show accountability.

Stop blaming yourself, blaming the work environment, or blaming others. This serves nothing more than to keep you in a place of feeling depleted and unmotivated. Examine what you have control over and recognize that your attitude is a choice. If your circumstances are less than ideal it could, in the realm of all possibility, be stemming from you. Take responsibility for this without shaming yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to make your circumstances better and get busy doing those things.

A lack of motivation is a form of heartbreak, therefore, the only person who can heal, fix or change this is you. Motivation is intrinsic; it is a virtue. While it is valid that external factors can largely influence your motivation, it is still all in the power of your mindset to what degree your motivation is impacted. Dig in and search your soul. Understand that motivation is a choice; a mindset. Making the choice to choose your attitude and drive all of your efforts into changing your circumstances for the better. When you focus on your future it propels you forward in the direction you desire to go.

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2. Be a willing learner.

A lack of motivation can sprout from a resistance, conscious or unconscious, to further your learning, growth and expansion. You may fail to press on due to either having made past mistakes, or out of the fear of making mistakes and not succeeding at that next level. Be a learner. If you've made mistakes which seem unrecoverable, take inventory on what happened and decide what you need to change moving forward. If you're being asked to move up in your career and you're afraid of the mistakes you may make or are afraid of what could go wrong, you imprison yourself to stay at one level of performance. This breeds the lack of motivation you need to stay away from in order to continue to expand your career.

Mistakes are crucial to your growth, motivation and advancement. Be willing to make them. Choose to prove yourself to be even more worthy, knowledgeable and refined after mistakes are made, or prove to yourself that you're willing to grow to that next level, enough-so that you're willing to make the necessary mistakes to advance. View mistakes as opportunities to prove your value.

3. Set attainable goals.

Make sure you set goals which are attainable. If you set goals that you have little hope of achieving you will get down on yourself, further destroying your motivation. Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. When setting goals be specific about what you want and understand why you want it. Clarity in intention increases your odds of success.

Emotions are your motivational drivers. When you set goals which hold emotional significance for you, you will be more willing to commit to them. If you feel that what you do will have little outcome or will be irrelevant in the bigger picture it is hard to motivate, that is why you need to set goals that have an intrinsic importance to you. Create goals that are important specifically to you, not just the larger structure you're working within. Find your individual freedom within your role and expand your goals upon that.

Related: There Is a Big Difference Between Setting Goals and Achieving Goals

4. Don't be an "askhole."

When you're demotivated it is natural to want to complain and vent about your problems. Releasing frustrations can be healthy, but it can also become a self-fulfilling prophesy if you are not working to solve your problems. If you do nothing but vent or complain you only deepen your lack of motivation. Talk to those who will offer you hope, advice and coaching, and make it your job to be coachable instead of stubborn and entitled.

Don't be an Askhole. An Askhole is a person who constantly complains and asks for advice, yet always does the opposite of what is told them. When you're demotivated, you are not doing your best work and your boss has probably noticed, so apologize if you think it's necessary. It shows humility. Once you start talking, explain your problems, offer proposed solutions, and see what others have to say. Show you will focus on solutions not problems. Any change you want to see in your world must be generated from within yourself. You change your outsides by changing your insides.

5. Be an optimistic realist.

In reality there is no perfect scenario in life or career. Everything you are engaged in has its flaws and downsides. Stop yourself from idealizing about how you think things should be to make you happier or more successful. Learn to appreciate what you have and to work with what you've got. When you can stay present and in acceptance of the scenario you are in you have more control over your circumstances. Each time you face an issue or a problem and you hold the belief that you have no choice, or that there is nothing you can do to positively shift the dynamics of your situation you become too pessimistic to motivate.

Start appreciating what you have. This allows you to stay upbeat about your future, regardless of the present circumstances. Yes, you should love what you do, that is incredibly important, but there will be aspects of anything you love that you will not like and sometimes there will be phases in your career where the elements you don't like dominate. Its ebb and flow. Roll with it.

Related: 6 Ways to Become a More Empathetic Entrepreneur

6. Utilize empathy.

If you're not motivated, stop thinking about yourself and start thinking of others. The skill of empathy is the key to your success because a little bit of empathy does a lot to effect change. When you begin treating others the way you want to be treated you have more power. Empathy allows you to better understand those around you, their needs and why they do what they do. This allows you to stop taking things personally. When you take everything personally it is crushing to your motivation.

Empathy increases the big picture of your understanding, enabling you to communicate better when getting your needs met; thereby, increasing your motivation and desire to do more. Keep in mind that motivation is contagious, so as you step outside of your negative inner dialogue and begin to focus on others, others will begin to focus on you, and you end up becoming a natural leader.

Motivation is internal, regardless of your external circumstances. There are always reasons to leave and/or quit, but it's wise to exhaust all options before making the decision to quit. There are clearly circumstances where there is no other option, however, quitting should be about moving on, not about giving up. To be successful anywhere and with anyone you have to find your motivation internally. Motivation is a verb; it's an action. You must apply this action to every part of your life if you choose to be successful. You are the only driving force of you.

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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