To get your sense of drive back, reacquaint yourself with your values
A few months ago, I found myself with a massive lack of motivation.
I’d just finished a job and was in no rush to find another.
I had a little bit of money to hold me over for a few months.
For the first time in my adult life — and possibly the last — I found myself with nothing to do, and there was nothing I wanted to do, either.
It was nice for about three weeks.
Then it became weird.
I remembered how much I once enjoyed getting things done, my little projects and adventures.
Who even was that person?
Where did he go?
I needed to get reacquainted with my sense of drive, and fast.
To do that,
I knew I would need to reassess what I wanted.
Not my goals, but my values.
As it turns out, I was onto something
In a recent New York Times article, writer Cameron Walker describes a psychological concept known as “self-determination theory,” which states that people can rekindle a sense of motivation when they find ways of linking their to-do list to the principles they care about the most.
“When you connect the things that are important to you to the things you need to do — even the drudgeries — you can feel more in control of your actions,” writes Walker.
“What do you love about your work?
What core value does it meet?”
Walker goes on to cite an Albuquerque motivational speaker and poet named Tanaya Winder, who recommends taking a moment to write those things down.
Which is exactly what I did.
On a long bus ride from Bristol to Bath, in my barely-legible longhand, I made a point-form list of the qualities that make an activity feel satisfying to me.
Off the top of my head, the list included things like “usefulness,” “progress,” and “curiosity.”
Perhaps your list would have different words, or even full sentences.
I did not know about self-determination theory, but I instinctively understood that I had to remind myself what makes me tick — especially after a really tough, pandemic orientated year.
The exercise took all of five minutes
And it worked.
At the end of it, I was surprised by a feeling I’d almost forgotten.
I felt excitement.
When you know what matters to you, it’s easy to find ways to seek those things out.
Words, phrases, full sentences: choose your own adventure.
You might just uncover a newfound sense of momentum.