I was doing research for another article when I came across this phrase in one of the comments being made by a contributing author. He used the term motivational energy and suggested that for him to complete one of the tasks in his morning routine took no motivational energy because it was right there, he did not have to go out of his way to do it. He referred to the prospect of going to a gym as simply requiring too much motivational energy and too much time.
Like this writer, I have been able to make changes to my morning routine because I found ways to make doing the tasks easier and therefore to ensure that they required no motivational energy. I have been procrastinating about developing a daily exercise practice for years and in many different ways. I used to go to a gym. I practiced Yoga for a year. I bought a weight bench and weights to train at home. I even bought the Insanity workout videos. I stuck with none of them. I always found them to be too tiring and requiring too much effort to consistently pursue.
However, I eventually found something that worked for me because it seemed easy and did not require a lot of energy to implement or to consistently do. What I have now become most committed to is something that I can do anywhere, with minimal effort and requiring little if any equipment. I do bodyweight exercises following the Canadian Navy work-out routine. The reason it was so easy to do for me was that it only ever requires me to do ten minutes per day and interestingly you see changes in your muscle tone, strength and posture.
This led me to wonder whether that was true for most of us and for most of the things that we encounter on a daily basis. Are we all just doing the things that require the least amount of motivational energy for us to get going? It would appear that we are sometimes prepared to take action and do things differently but mostly, that is so only when it is easy for us to do so. When the energy it takes to motivate ourselves is low, or at least the energy required is not more than we are willing to expend, then nothing is too much of a challenge and we are willing to attempt it.
Therefore when we are trying to make change in our personal or professional lives, we should consider that the real problem with us not wanting to change is not that we do not want to do things differently. Instead, it is tied up in the fact that the level of motivational energy we are willing to expend to make it happen is lower that the energy required to make the change. So inertia wins and we do nothing.
Could this awareness be the secret to getting things done? Could this also be a measure which we can use from the outset to let ourselves recognize whether or not we will not commit to doing something? I have to confess that this phrase immediately appealed to me simply because it expressed a concept that seemed so logical that I thought it must be true.
I suppose as we consider mankind and our reaction to so many things, this makes sense. The human brain is a very busy organ. It is always working. Consequently it is always on the look-out for more efficient ways to get things done. That’s why we have habits and routines. That’s why we judge the book by its cover and make leaps of logic. That’s why we have flight or fight responses and why we inherently practice self-preservation. The brain likes to do that which does not take too much mental energy so that it can continue with the important task of keeping us alive.
How often have you found yourself in situations where you feel challenged by something but you are prepared to do what it takes to get it done? Alternatively, have you also had times where things just did not appeal to you or get you excited and so you did not wish to put out the effort required whether it was a big or small effort that was needed? This no doubt was your level of motivational energy.
Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance. She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados. For more of her writing visit https://marjoriewharton.live