Motivation Tips

Motivation tips: When motivation isn’t always enough

Katie Azevedo focus, good habits, mental health, productivity, study skills, time management

Motivation Tips

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

If you’re looking for a list of motivation tips, you won’t find it in this post. I know we all search for such magic motivation tips, hoping they will solve all our procrastination issues. That’s because so many of us think that lack of motivation is the reason why we haven’t reached certain goals or finished projects or started that thing we keep talking about.

We tell ourselves, I’m just not motivated yet — but when I get motivated, I’ll be fine.

I don’t think so. Hear me out.

If we are CAPABLE of doing a task, but are simply procrastinating, then yeah, it might be a matter of motivation. Of course, motivation goes hand in hand with procrastination, so then we have to figure out why we’re procrastinating. I dig very deep into the 6 reasons why we procrastinate and offer motivation tips here. But to sum it up, research suggests that we procrastinate when a task is one of the following:

  1. Boring
  2. Frustrating
  3. Difficult
  4. Lacks personal meaning / intrinsic reward
  5. Ambiguous
  6. Unstructured

If you honestly know that the real reason you’re not completing a task is one of the above explanations, then it’s on you to figure out the solution. Here’s a bunch of motivation tips. (If you have ADHD and struggle with motivation, use these tips.)

But if you’re not feeling motivated to start a task or project and it’s NOT for one of the above reasons, then here’s what might be going on:

Maybe you are not currently capable of the task!

What? Did I just suggest that you might not be capable? That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

What I mean is that perhaps we avoid certain projects — in school, home or work — not because we are not motivated, but because we do not yet have the skills to complete the work. Think about it: Why would we want to start or complete anything if subconsciously we know that we lack the skills to do so?

Rick Lavoie, a brilliant pioneer who influenced the special education landscape, nailed it when he said, “Motivation is the most misunderstood concept. It only allows us to do what we already can do.”

Let me say that again: Motivation only allows us to do what we already can do.

That’s it! Think about it! Someone with all the motivation tips and gung-ho-ness in the world can only go so far without the correct skills. Someone with all the best intentions can only get to a certain point in their work or schooling without acquiring more information.

Sure, Lavoie was speaking in the context of students with learning disabilities when he spoke those words, but his psychology background, five academic degrees, and extensive experience in the classroom broaden the application of his words to cover anyone in any context. You. Me. Anyone who has stuff to do but just can’t seem to get it done.

What to do when motivation isn’t enough

If you’re truly motivated to get something done (homework, study session, project, whatever) but just can’t seem to actually do it, dig deep and ask yourself if you even know how to do whatever it is. If you realize you’re not yet capable, then ask for help and get the information you need. Once you know what you need to know, you’ll be ready to start.

Or, if you’re not motivated at all, then still dig deep to check if the reason might be that you are not currently capable of doing whatever it is. Again, if you don’t know how to do something, figure out what you need to know (or ask for help) and get moving. If you’re not feeling motivated to study, try these 13 tips.

Remember, motivation only allows us to do what we already can do. Just knowing this might be the best motivation tip of all.

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