Do you know what I mean when I say "Pinterest positivity"?
It is the term I use to describe the advice that says envisioning yourself living your dreams will increase your motivation.
Yes, imagery and visualization are very powerful uses of your mind. Setting high, hard goals and having a clear vision for your life are critical to optimizing performance and life. But when it comes to motivation (actually mobilizing energy toward a goal), seeing yourself living your dreams (already having accomplished them) can actually backfire and reduce motivation.
Extensive research by Gabriele Oettingen and others has shown that only envisioning the goals you want to achieve can trick your body in to a state of relaxation. Seeing yourself having completed the task makes your body think you've already done it. (Yes, your mind is that powerful).
According to the applied research, the best way to use your vision as motivation is to pair the image or goal with the obstacles that stand in your way....
If you've felt your motivation dwindle over the course of the pandemic (or really any time), this science can help us figure out why and what to do about it.
As humans, we have some basic needs. You know this. If I asked you what our physical human needs are, you'd probably say things like food, water, sleep, movement, etc. We need those needs to be met before we can thrive.
Turns out, we also have some psychological needs that need to be met in order for us to thrive:
When these 3 basic psychological needs are met, our natural motivation flows. We are happier, healthier, more engaged, and perform better.
In 2020 in particular, we all lost a large sense of control over our lives - literal restrictions on what we can/can't do are only the start of it. We also feel loss of control when things are just UNKNOWN or constantly changing.
I feel like motivation is getting a bad rap these days as some uncontrollable beast that comes and goes as it pleases.
I get it - especially after 2020. But I'm not giving up on motivation just yet, and here's why.
From my digging into the science of motivation, I've learned to think of the ebb and flow of motivation as a dance. Am I leading? If so, how? Am I trying to force the dance or am I moving with my partner? If we lose sync, is it because they're off course or did the music shift and I wasn't paying attention?
This metaphor helps me see a shift in motivation as information to be danced with. Maybe the information is telling me I let my mind and focus wander from my high, hard goals that make my heart thump.
Maybe the information is telling me I've been driving too hard and need to refocus on my recovery. Maybe the information is telling me my environment is shifting and I feel lost. Maybe it's telling me I need to refocus on my relationships.
Whatever it is, when we can...