Motivation is interesting. It's kind of a driving force or excitement. The problem with motivation is that it's very emotional. If you don't realize that it's highly emotional then you may begin to question all your goals and reasons for doing things when you find yourself lacking motivation.
Before I realized that motivation was really nothing more than temporary excitement, when I would lack the drive or excitement to work on music some days, I would fall into a shame or guilt thought pattern. All I have ever wanted to do was make music. I get to do that, yet there are still plenty of days when I wake up and drag my feet to the studio.
For years I would shame myself for not being grateful and thankful whenever I didn't feel overly joyed to work on music. But that type of motive to get motivated is not healthy either.
Shaming yourself as motivation to work is exhausting.
After years of doing this, I felt burnt out.
I had to examine what was going on.
Anytime there are lots of emotions going on you have to take a hard look at what is actually happening deep down inside. If I am honest, the days I lack motivation are usually the days that I have taken on a project or agreed to do something that I don't really want to do. This is no ones fault but myself. I agreed to take on a project for someone so now it's my responsibility to do it. I did this a lot when I first started in music. I was so desperate to work on anything that I took on everything. Free work, paid work, whatever work.. I just did it. My motivation left me quickly every time.
How I started to think about motivation had to change. How I approached my work had to change. It was not sustainable.
I began to be more choosy in my projects. This helped improve my motivation. The projects I was working on began to be things that excited me because it was in my sweet spot.
I also began to not care about motivation. Sometimes you have to just work. Almost 99% of the time, if I start something even if I feel kind of blah about it... twenty minutes into it, I am pretty much on fire and loving it.
This is how our bodies and minds actually work. It's kind of amazing when you learn to recognize what's emotion and what's logical. I struggled for the last few years with going to the gym. I started watching videos of fit people, reading blogs, this all lasted me about a week and then I would have to consume more and more content to get excited to just go to the gym. It never lasted and never worked. Finally, I just decided that I would go. I would go for thirty minutes and after thirty minutes I could leave. It wasn't up for discussion. It wasn't going to be something that my emotions would talk me out of. Even if I felt so unmotivated to go, I would go. Sure enough ten minutes into it, I would begin to enjoy it. When the work out was over, I would feel terrific. Soon I didn't even need motivation. I just went.
This is similar to my work in the music world. There will always be things I don't love doing. This does not mean I lack motivation or I am ungrateful for what I do. It simply means that there are things I really love doing and things I don't really love doing. It truly can be as simple as that. My motivation for doing things now really isn't even a thing. I am motivated to work because that's what you do. You work. When you view it as something that is a part of your life, part of your schedule and routine, it no longer has a strong emotional bond to you. It no longer controls you and that "lack" of motivation loses its intensity.
I know this may seem so simple or unrealistic. You may be saying, you just have a lot of will power or you have just spun it a certain way... but truly I can testify that when you stop letting the emotions dictate your actions motivation becomes something that is unnecessary in life. Motivation is emotional, it is dependent on a lot of variables, it is easily manipulated, it can rarely be trusted.
What we can trust in are things that we can see on paper that move us forward, that are logical, and that get us closer to who we want be as a person. Motivation can get you into a situation that you were so excited about and then it leaves you high and dry. You have to know what to do when you hit that spot. What you do is, you keep going. You know that it's not a reflection of you. You realize that life is full of things we don't want to do. This is normal. It does not make you a bad person, a lazy person, or an ungrateful person. By seeing that motivation can come and go we are able to be more stable. Motivation is like thought, in that it comes and goes, it's always changing, it's always jumping around.
When we learn to recognize it as that, then we can continue on and find a place of contentment, a place of peace, and balance, a place that knows that our work does not define us or our worth. When you land there, a shift happens, in that everything becomes lighter, more spacious and even some of the things I used to hate doing no longer bother me.
All of this takes practice. For some this may seem so far fetched, but it does work. When you lack motivation to do something, just go ahead and do it. Try it. Spend ten minutes on it. If after ten minutes you aren't somewhat interested in it, examine why. Is there something underneath it all that is draining you? Usually there is. Usually the thing that is killing our motivation has nothing to do with the task at hand. Once you identify that, then you can see it for whatever it is. The task at hand then becomes separate. There is some space that occurs. This space is where you can learn to be content, do your work, and not let it become something that sucks the life out of you.
This is how you beat motivation.