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Facts for All Ages

Lack of Motivation - Are the Three P's to Blame?


Many years ago, when I was a lot younger, I was told by several seniors that life seems to go by faster as you get older. I didn't understand what they meant at the time, but as I get older, I know exactly what they were talking about! They would also tell me that as you age, your body wants to slow down, but you just have to keep on going – that the day you stop – you're done. Staying physically, mentally and socially active, can prolong and enhance the quality of life and contributes to healthy aging. So….how do you stay motivated or find your "get up and go" when it may have already got up and went?

The level of motivation ebbs and flows throughout the lifespan. Some might find that there is little motivation for one task while there is high motivation for another. We all have "jobs" that we tend to put off because they are not necessarily enjoyable. Those who have always struggled with motivation will more than likely continue to do so. The good news is that there are ways to raise one's motivation, but we must look at the reasons it is low to begin with. Causes often associated with low motivation are procrastination, perfectionism and pessimism.

Most everyone procrastinates sometime. Delaying a task in order to gather more information or skills for completion of the task is not considered procrastination. But doing nothing at all or doing other things with less importance than the avoided task are common ways to procrastinate and are not productive. If you are putting off a project because you think it is too big and overwhelming, remember that it is helpful to break large tasks into smaller ones, making them more manageable. If there is no deadline and no else knows about the project to be done, then it is less likely that it will get done. Telling someone else of your goals so you have someone to be accountable to, and setting your own deadline will increase the chances of your project getting completed in a timely manner. If it's a job that must be done but is not enjoyable and you would rather be doing anything else, then changing your negative self-talk to positive self-talk makes it much more enjoyable.

The fear of failure or not being able to do the job right - called perfectionism - will keep action from taking place. Perfectionists may spend too much time and energy on the details of the project and never actually get started working on it. Consequently, they lack motivation and become bored in trying to decide how to complete the project. On the positive side, perfectionism in moderation contributes toward the pursuit of excellence and can motivate individuals to strive for a goal.

Those who are pessimistic, blame themselves when things go wrong, as a result, they are less likely to take risks and thus become less productive. It is possible to change pessimistic thinking patterns by consciously challenging negative thinking and replacing it with optimistic thoughts. First become aware of your negative self-talk and notice how it influences your choices and interferes with efforts to change. Then interrupt negative self-talk with positive statements. Be proud of the positive changes you are making – no matter how small.

So remember that to increase your "get up and go", you must decrease procrastination, perfectionism and pessimism. To find out more details on how to do this, check with our family life educators.

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