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Motivation in Continuing Lockdown

Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist, poet and award-winning author

Why could we consider Motivation in continuing lockdown?


● It is helpful to get and stay motivated for your wellness and contentment

● You can feel content in continuing lockdown

● Adapting again quickly is still an option

● Feeling motivated is helpful for a happy life

What is Motivation about?

Definitions of Motivation suggest it is a process that initiates, guides, and maintains behaviours and actions. It is what causes you to take action, to get going and keep on going …whether it is to put the bins out or to take up a new course of study to further your personal and professional development.

Motivation involves the head, heart and body in a mind-body connection. Thoughts lead to emotions that lead to actions.

Motivation involves the whole-body system - biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behaviour.

If you think about it, there are only really two things that we have to do – that we can’t possibly avoid. These are to:

  1. Breathe

  2. Take up space

Everything else in life is a choice.

This sounds controversial. You might say "I have to go to work". Well, yes, that’s true, if you want the things that work and money provide. You might say "I have to wash the children’s clothes". Well, yes, that’s true if you want the children to look well-cared for. But equally you could say that almost all of what we are and do is a choice – and a balancing act – if I don’t go to work or don’t do the washing, I just have to take the consequences.

So, what does this mean?

If nearly all of the process of ‘being you’ involves choices and decisions – how do we get motivated to make all these decisions and choices?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and motivation seems to be more significant than ever before, in the pandemic and lockdown situation. Developed by Maslow (initially in 1943) the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ and motivation suggests that everyone seeks to satisfy basic needs of finding food, water, warmth, rest. When these are satisfied we move on to seeking to provide for our needs relating to security and safety. Does this sound familiar in the lockdown context?

All of us are spending more time in the home. Our homes have become the place where we live, educate children, work, clean, tidy, plan, organise and carry out most of our daily lives at the moment. This calls for a burst of motivation to get things organised so that all of these multi-functions can happen effectively in one place. During the pandemic we are motivated to find ways to get food and bottled water if we need it. We are motivated by a need to organise environments and spaces in the home to accommodate all these different functions that go on within the home now, as lockdown continues.

Every day we are considering our security and safety – where it is OK to go and where it is not OK to go, according to Government guidelines and our individual assessment of our security and safety needs.

Maslow’s model of needs and motivation suggests that once our needs for basic human survival, security and safety are met, we move on to the need to belong and for social support – friends and relationships. This is challenging in the lockdown context and has motivated many people to find new and creative ways to gain social support and to ‘meet’ friends using online platforms, video calls and walking outdoors whilst talking to people at a safe distance. Our ‘higher’ needs and motivations, according to Maslow involve our need to provide for self-esteem and accomplishment. Followed by self-actualization needs – achieving one’s potential, including creative activities.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and motivation is summarised in this diagram:

Becoming motivated to attend to your needs in this triangle could be significant and could lead to a feeling of greater wellness, contentment and peace in the continuing lockdown situation.

Motivation has often been defined as involving ‘carrots’ or ‘sticks’ rewards that move us to take action. ‘Carrots’ are things that we dangle in front of us that we perceive as ‘good’ rewards such as, ‘if I do these 5 reports I can go to for a walk at lunchtime’. ‘Sticks’ are defined as an ‘away from’ motivation, that is, moving away from horrible things happening to us. For example, do I really have to go to the dentist? I do visit the dentist regularly, to avoid my teeth falling out. This is a ‘stick’ motivation. During lockdown it seems that these sort of extrinsic (outside of us) carrot and stick rewards can be helpful in producing small moments of pleasure and moving us to take necessary evasive actions that keep us going.

In his book, Drive, The Surprising Truth about what motivates us, Daniel Pink suggests that carrot and stick motivations are old-fashioned, particularly in a business context and that we are much more likely to be motivated in the long term by satisfying our need for autonomy (managing my life, my time and myself), mastery (doing and achieving in the ‘right’ tasks as defined by me) and purpose (for me, for my organisation, for the task itself).

‘In flow’ activities where we are fully absorbed and engaged in the task in hand, so that time flies by and we feel content are a very good example of how we are motivated to meet our needs for autonomy, mastery and purpose

McClelland suggests that there are another 3 important components of motivation. These are that we are motivated predominantly to satisfy one or more of the needs for power, achievement and affiliation (friends, social supports, people). It is likely that each of us has a preference for at least one of these components.

McClelland model of motivation

- Achievement

To reach or exceed a standard of excellence and/or improve one's performance level

- Affiliation

To generate or maintain good relationships with the people we care about

- Power

To achieve impact or influence on other people

So, it seems that human beings are more motivated when we feel we direct and control our own life and this causes greater contentment and happiness.

In this pandemic and continuing lockdown there are some useful questions you can ask yourself about your motivation:

How are you addressing your motivation to provide for your needs for:

  1. Food, water, warmth, rest, security, safety, friendship and social supports, self esteem and achieving your potential (Maslow)?

  2. Autonomy, mastery and purpose (Daniel Pink)?

  3. Short term extrinsic rewards - carrots and sticks?

  4. Power or achievement or affiliation (McClelland)?

Motivation - What it is:

● about making choices that lead to actions that benefit you

● getting going and keeping going - directing your own life

● important for wellness, contentment and happiness

● particularly easy to achieve through ‘in flow’ activities

Motivation - What it is NOT:

● forcing yourself to take action that does not seem useful or relevant to you

● doing tasks that are too hard, perhaps decreasing motivation/increasing stress level

Some benefits of getting motivated for you:

In this continuing pandemic and continuing lockdown, it is useful to further increase your motivation so that you experience some or all of these benefits -

● Wellness and contentment

● Resilience

● Satisfaction and fulfilment

● Increased positive emotions, fewer depressive symptoms and engaging in more healthy behaviours

How to practise getting motivated:

Think about your behaviours in continuing lockdown. Even in this context you still have choices in what you decide to get motivated to be and to do. You can give yourself permission to try stuff and see what happens.

Tips to increase your motivation – consider how you could attend to your needs for:

1. Food, water, warmth and rest (physiological needs)

2. Security and safety

3. Belonging and friendship, people needs – using all virtual platforms available

4. Self-esteem and accomplishment – ‘in flow’ activities are great for this – activities that provide an optimum level of challenge - not too hard or too easy and that allow for feedback on progress e.g. learning a language, practicing music, baking, knitting, reading, writing, playing a sport, listening to music… what is your in flow activity ?

5. Self-actualization – learning, growing, developing, being creative – what could or do you enjoy doing creatively?

6. Autonomy, mastery and purpose – choose what are the ‘right’ things for you to do and enjoy them

7. Power or achievement or affiliation – which is your predominant motivation of these ?

8. Feed your mind – what positive messages/information are you allowing into your mind? What are you paying attention to? Is this helpful and useful?

9. Free your mind from unhelpful thoughts – mindfulness, meditation, in flow activities, coaching

10. Focus your mind – on things you love to be and do; adopt helpful mindsets

These simple practices could help you to get even more motivated and feel more content even in continuing lockdown.

What if you could get motivated in continuing lockdown?

Here’s a thought for the day:

Read more:

Drive - The Surprising Truth about what motivates us - Daniel Pink (2011)

Don't delay - get motivated!

Book a free coaching session with a Shared Inspiration Coach who believes in you.



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