Self motivation in times of imposed change
There are two levels of self motivation:
(1) The day to day, "task level motivation" of achieving routine activities.
(2) The "big picture level motivation" required to get you through situations of significant imposed change that have large and perhaps dramatic impacts on your life.
The overall focus of this site is organisational change management and change leadership, and in this section of the site we are looking specifically at various aspects of managing personal change.
Our focus here is on the self motivation that is needed to deal with the "big picture" stuff.
There is already a vast amount of information freely available on the internet offering all the usual "task level" advice on self motivation - material that will tell you how all about how you need a vision - or at least a clear goal - focus and confidence and will provide you with checklists of activites that will help get you motivated and keep you motivated.
This is all good stuff and if that is what you are looking for, then may I refer you to these links where you will find plenty of information:
Task level tips, advice and resources on self motivation
How to motivate yourself
How self motivated are you?
How you can improve your motivation
Develop your motivation and unlock your potential
I am terrified that I will lose it all...
Your company is downsizing and you are worried that this might include you...
Your organisation is restructuring, and you are facing major unwelcome changes in your working life...
You are experiencing severe financial pressure...
You run your own business and are owed a significant amount of money by a major customer or client - and you have just heard that they have gone bust...
You know what I am talking about - you may be experiencing this right now.
In all these types of stressful situations sustaining self motivation can be extremely difficult. In my experience, the tendency is to attempt some form of action - to DO something - anything.
This is invariably accompanied with and followed by lots of thinking - the kind of thinking that we find hard to stop - the kind of thinking that keeps us awake at night - the kind of thinking that goes round and round in circles - the kind of thinking that starts to take over and dominate our minds.
Underneath all this thinking is a lot of emotion - invariably negative, anxious, fearful feelings - feelings of stress - feelings of overwhelm.
And then the urge, the need, the compulsion to DO SOMETHING arises again.
But actually there is not much if anything we can do - because there is so much uncertainty surrounding the whole situation, there are so many unknowns, and we have no way of figuring out how this thing is going to play itself out.
Then comes the painful realisation that we are not in control - that unwelcome change is being imposed upon us.
As this realisation sinks in it is usually accompanied by another round of frantic thinking accompanied by more urgent and insistent feelings of anxiety and insecurity.
Here is what's going on inside our heads:
- We get very attached - or stuck - to our thoughts and emotional states
- They arise automatically
- They are repetitive
- The repetition causes reinforcement – making us more attached and thus more stuck
- We are largely if not totally unaware of this process
- We mistake the state for who we are
- We identify totally with these states – we are immersed in them – "I am angry" – "I am anxious" etc
- After the passing of a certain amount of time these states recede or pass and we are "normal" again
- After the passing of a certain amount of more time these states arise again and the whole cyclical process repeats itself
- Again and again and again…ad infinitum
All of this happens automatically. This "stuckness" is a major factor in our human suffering. We cannot naturally move beyond our automatic responses and reactions to things that happen to us.
In the absence of sufficient information from outside of ourselves how do we manage any form of self motivation if we do not know what direction we are heading?
How do we motivate ourselves when we do not know what to do?
How do we motivate ourselves when faced with irreconcilable or impossible choices?
I am under so much pressure – I need to DO something – anything - NOW!
OK, I can hear you saying - Stephen, stop theorising you don’t understand, my employers are taking advantage of me, I am about to be made redundant, I am in debt and my finances are a mess, my wife/husband/partner and I keep arguing, I am under so much pressure – I need to DO something – anything NOW.
I have been there – believe me – more than once, and over many years, I do know what it feels like to be $200k in debt, with no credit, no paying clients, a mortgage company foreclosing, creditors suing me and with no apparent prospects of recovery… It’s hard and it is painful and it is very difficult. There are no magic bullets but there is a way through these times of harsh imposed change.
We live in an age and a culture that is obsessed with instant fixes and that confuses the apparent reality of the world as we think we know it with how it really is.
Many people are now beginning to experience firsthand that this is not the case.
- Things do take time - often months and frequently years - for the ultimate purpose and personal benefit of the imposed change to be become apparent to us and realised in our day to day experience
- Contrary to how we feel, we really can let go and trust in whatever it is that we personally regard as our highest and guiding energy
- If we stop fighting what is happening to us and accept and allow the change to happen - we will survive - but not by struggling and trying to make it happen
- Contrary to all of our deeply ingrained instincts, we need to do less, to think far less, step back and get our egos out of the way
- We need to understand that we can not think our way out of this
- Our survival and self motivation is going to be grounded in mental and spiritual faculties of which we may have little or no prior real direct experience
- The biggest key to all this is to behave and respond in ways that may be the completely alien to us by allowing and cultivating a very deep acceptance of what is happening and acknowledging that we are not in control of circumstances and - counter cultural and counter intuitive as this sounds - to "go with the flow"
- The more we can "surrender to the flow" then the more we automatically become "aligned" to a far greater dimension of our consciousness than we may have ever previously experienced - this really is the key
- It is this alignment with the flow that is the dynamic that will pull us through this difficult situation and it is this alignment that is the source of our self motivation through and beyond present difficult circumstances
- Whether we realise it or not, whether we accept it or not, there is always a spiritual dynamic at work in these situations
Please note - when I use the word "spiritual" I am not referring to any particular faith tradition nor am I seeking to push or promote any particular belief or faith position. I use the word spiritual in a generic sense to refer to, or to point to, the higher or more transcendent dimensions of human experience, awareness and consciousness.
4 Key Steps
Here are 4 key steps in to how allow our self motivation to survive imposed change and for it to emerge renewed and transformed.
 Choosing our response to imposed change
The first step is to deal with our response to imposed change:
- We can resist it, and increase our suffering
- We can adapt to it, and develop new responses
- We can accept it
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation Programme: No More Boredom + No More Years Of Training!
Relaxation + Meditation Music + Guided Meditations
 Dealing with our thoughts
The second step to dealing with our response to imposed change is to learn how to deal with our thoughts
- We need to learn how to change the way we think so that we can maximise our capacity to think in the most constructive and positive way.
- We need to learn how to NOT think – that is to STOP thinking – and to be able to do so at will.
The state and quality of your mind has a very large bearing on the quality of your experience of life, and very specifically on your capacity for managing personal change.
Immunity to Change
Self Motivation Tips
Self Talk: Dealing With The Ghost In Your Machine
NLP Course: Achieve and Sustain Peak Performance
 Understanding the stages of the transition we are moving through
It is extremely helpful to realise the clearly defined stages that we will move through emotionally and psychologically as we adjust internally to the external change that is being imposed upon us.
- Ending, Losing, Letting Go - accepting our tangible and intangible losses and mentally prepare to move on - this really is all about practising deep acceptance
- The Neutral Zone (aka "The Dark Night Of The Soul") - accepting and allowing the critical psychological realignments and repatterning that needs to take place within us - and accepting the deep confusion and uncertainty that accompanies this
- The New Beginning - developing a new identity, experiencing a new energy, discovering a new sense of purpose and experiencing a powerful self motivation that make the change begin to work
Navigating the transitions of change
Mapping the impacts of change
 Understanding the true nature and purpose of our struggles and suffering
Suffering and struggle are inbuilt into the way the universe runs.
However, through deep acceptance of what is being imposed upon us and by developing a quiet mind and thus allowing clarity to emerge we will - if we allow it - eventually and paradoxically find that the true nature and purpose of our struggles and suffering is constructive and transformative, it unmasks the true nature of "who we really are and why we are here" and it reveals a path to real and permanent personal change and transformation.
Guy Finley: Life of Learning Foundation
Higher Awareness: Personal Development and Spiritual Growth Programmes
And finally you could always sign up for my free email series on "Managing Personal Change" below - in which I develop the themes touched on above, in far more depth.
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