What to Do if You Have Low Motivation

This article is an installment of The Everyday Warrior series, featuring advice, key interviews, and tips to live a life of impact, growth, and continual learning.

I’ve noticed recently that the term “motivation” has fallen out of favor. It went from being the favorite word of influencers everywhere to now being persona non grata for anyone trying to help people reach their potential. They say it’s fleeting. It’s weak. It won’t stand up to pressure. That if you rely on it, you will undoubtedly fail. But, I think that status is undeserved. I’m not ready to let it go, and I’ll tell you why.

The Popular Definition of Motivation V the Actionable Definition of Motivation

The definition of “motivation” is “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” And, yeah, if you rely on that, you won’t get anywhere near your objective. I pretty much haven’t wanted to do most of the things I’ve done. I didn’t particularly want to pull on oars until I felt like puking, or get on my bike when it was 10 degrees and snowing, or run a marathon after I had just run 30 in a row. I didn’t want to do any of that. I had low motivation.

Here’s the thing, though. There’s a second definition, and that is, “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” That’s what got me out of bed and moving in the morning in those previous examples. I was trying to win a medal in the Paralympics. I was raising money for veteran charities. I was trying to create a story that anybody who’s struggling can use to overcome their difficulties. That was my motivation. That’s where all these other words people like to use now come from. Discipline. Consistency. Attitude. Willpower. All of them.

So, when the first definition is failing you, and you don’t feel like it. Think about that second definition. In other words, when you lack motivation, rely on your motivation.

Now, as we say in the Marine Corps, “stay motivated, motivator!”

Retired Marine Sergeant Rob Jones is a former combat engineer with the U.S. Marines. Rob served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2008 and 2010. In 2010, he was struck and injured by a land mine, resulting in a double above-the-knee leg amputation. After retiring from the Marine Corps, Rob trained for the 2012 Paralympics in rowing, bringing home a Bronze Medal in the double sculls event. In 2013, he rode his bicycle 5,200 miles across the United States from Maine to Camp Pendleton, California. In the fall of 2017, Rob completed a month-long, back-to-back marathon challenge, running 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different major cities. Along with providing perspective on the capabilities of all wounded veterans, Rob and his team raised over $350,000 for veteran charities.

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