Welcome to part three of our motivation series!
It’s common to find ourselves with a long to-do list and motivation nowhere in sight. In those moments, relying on your commitment to the task can help you start crossing items off your list.
This week’s motivational “bypasser” is dedication
feeling devoted (love, loyalty, and/or enthusiasm) to a task or action
Relying on dedication may be particularly helpful for you if you often call yourself lazy due to feeling unwilling to work or use energy, if you wonder why you’re doing something, or if you’re feeling apathetic.
For our purposes, you can also think of dedication in terms of looking at the big picture, commitment, loyalty, focusing on values (aka focusing on the importance or worth of something), and operating based on your principles.
Tips for developing dedication:
> Center the “why.” What about these tasks make them worthy of being on your list? When I asked university students the “why” behind their coursework, they shared so many answers: to make family proud, a love of learning, to advance their career, to challenge themselves. Whatever your reason is, find a way to remember it. Change your phone background to a relevant photo or take out the craft supplies and make an inspiration board that you can display in a prominent location.
> Prioritize. This can be particularly helpful when feeling immobilized and overwhelmed. Identify the 1-3 tasks that are most important for you to do today and commit yourself to those tasks. I remember in the earliest days of motherhood, my priorities would look something like, “shower, eat, hopefully step outside” (okay, fine, sometimes that’s still my list). It’s hard to acknowledge that something else may not get done, but this ensures that the most essential tasks get completed.
Tip: If it’s had to decide, it may be useful to list your to-dos in a grid format. Identify each one as either important/not that important and urgent/not that urgent. Then pick from the “important and urgent” items.
> Identify your values. Grab a pen and paper and take a moment to write about what is most important to you in life. If you want a little more structure, here is a great worksheet: https://positivepsychology.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Personal-Values-Worksheet.pdf. After taking 10 minutes to write, read over your responses. What 5 or so key words stand out to you? Perhaps you most value courage and chivalry, wisdom and creativity, kindness and loyalty, or ambition and leadership. (Or, maybe you’re not a Harry Potter fan and have a list that doesn’t align with one of the Hogwarts houses. Either way… ) Now that you’ve identified your top values, connect your tasks to at least one value. Then commit yourself to living out that value by doing your task. It’s okay if you need to take a bit of a creative stretch or tweak the task slightly to better align with your values.
> Identify obstacles. Notice what gets in the way of you doing what you want to do. Then, identify ways you can work around these obstacles. If you need to, message a friend or call a parent for some help brainstorming. Then, make the adjustments you need to address these obstacles and move on to your tasks. Perhaps you’re too exhausted after work to exercise, but you can take a quick nap or exercise during lunch instead.
> Don’t do it. I know it’s ironic, but if your to-do is disconnected from your values, never a priority, lacks a satisfactory “why,” and gets derailed by the smallest of obstacles, perhaps the real issue is that this task simply is not worth the mental space and energy. If possible, delegate it or skip it! If that’s not possible, tune into next week’s motivation blog series about how to inspire yourself – a great way to make even the dullest of tasks have a bit of sparkle.
If you’d like to receive support in implementing these strategies, contact us to connect with a therapist.
Written By: Jaime Ascencio, Ph.D., HTR
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