Is Motivation Really Necessary?

The other day just before a morning yoga class, a conversation ensued about the idea of showing up. The discussion was centred around whether how we actually feel about showing up for something (in other words motivated or not) is a useful way to think.

For example, I know my kids don’t always “feel” like going to school. But I send them anyway.  And I’m pretty sure that most mornings (or evenings if you are on night shift) you don’t always feel motivated about heading off to work or making lunches, hanging washing or dealing with complaints about homework or navigating other household and family dramas.

And, ahem, let me be honest, I don’t always feel motivated to leave my house at dinner time to head off and teach a yoga class but I will always show up (unless I’m contagious or can’t get out of bed). In thirteen years, I’ve had to cancel classes twice due to these types of illness. But please don’t imagine for one minute that I head out of the door singing zipadee doo dah every evening or that I’ve never had a crappy day, feel flat or simply a little under the weather.

But these be the things we must do regardless of whether we are motivated or “feel” like it.

So for a while now, I’ve decided not to use that word since to me it suggests that in order for us to be able to get off our butt and do a particular thing, we require (and are waiting for) some kind of “motive”. A reward in other words. I can’t help thinking that this is not a healthy habit to live by and to pass on to our children. (Although it is a great way to train a canine).

I’ll leave you to dig a little deeper and have a think about that, but for myself, instead of the wishy-washy, will-it-or-won’t-it- happen, let’s-wait-a-bit-longer-to-maybe-feel-motivated, I’ve found a “commitment” mindset makes it much easier to form better habits – like the one of showing up – because going back on my word has never sat well.

For example, this year I took a deep breath and began to learn how to surf.  In all honesty, especially when it’s cold, I rarely wake up actually wanting to go – I’m a total frog! Plus, there’s always the fear factor lurking in the back of my mind. But, because I meet a couple of friends, I’m “committed” to showing up if I’ve agreed to. And so I do. And I never regret it. Because, we rarely do. In yoga philosophy, this “niyama” (or lifestyle habit) is described as tapas, and it’s absolutely the key to positive  transformation.

So, if you don’t “feel” motivated to “do” a particular thing, observe that thought but refuse to entertain it. Try a commitment mindset instead and fake it till you make it, or, as Nike is keen on telling us, Just Do It (anyway).