Understanding Motivation

Next week I will speak with you about creating and maintaining momentum but first I’d like you to get clarity on any obstacles that you might need to deal with, so we can make sure you achieve your goals this year, as you deserve to! Motivation, or lack of, is something many people struggle with. People set goals with great excitement, only to find that enthusiasm isn’t quite on the same level as the days progress. The key to achieving a goal and living fully, is understanding what might be getting in the way, and clearing a path so you can create and maintain momentum going forward.

Here are 7 things that you need to be aware of that can influence motivation.

  1. Fear

Fear is part of being human and in certain situations it can be very useful. If something dangerous comes your way you’d hope your brain would let you know so you can respond to it. However, sometimes fear is misplaced, and can be based on your imagination rather than on an accurate assessment of the risks in reality. It can prevent you from going forward into territory that you want to enter and that is actually safe. If you have a goal and you want it, yet you’re nervous about achieving it, you need to question why.

Start by asking “What is the consequence/result of me achieving the goal and why am I afraid of it?” Sometimes, even if the consequence of achieving a goal is positive, it can trigger fear because of a painful association, a past programme or projected perception of pain. For example, “I want a loving relationship, but I got hurt in the past and I’m afraid it will happen again.”, “I want to be wealthy, but my family think wealthy people are greedy and might reject me.”, “I want to get a promotion but I’m not sure if I could handle the extra responsibility.”, type thing. To shake up that fear, you need to question it, not let it linger and take over. Questioning slows it all down and interrupts its usual course, so you can look at ways you can manage and steer the feeling, so it no longer gets in the way. Once you’ve identified what you might be afraid of you can deal with it more easily. It also allows you to engage in positive “What ifs”. What if you weren’t afraid? What if you could handle the outcome with ease? What if you allowed yourself to accept an opportunity? “What if you were to become successful at a, b or c?” Question and project calming expectations.

  1. Setting the Wrong Goals

From the moment you were born society set rules and ideals for you. You quickly learned how to be accepted and what impresses people, and that to fit in you need to meet certain social standards. When you feel demotivated, it can be because you’re setting goals based on what your social-self wants not what your core-self wants. Your brain uses demotivation to slow you down and to detach you from social-self goals. In western society “good enough” is often attached to wealth, beauty, and performance, for example, so people put pressure on themselves to be, do, and have things that hold them to that social standard, but they may not really want those things deep down. A good way of knowing if being unmotivated is linked to social-self is to notice how your physical body feels when you think of living the goal. As you notice how your body feels, ask yourself if it just fear that you need to work on or is it a feeling of being misaligned, constricted or detached, i.e. “it’s not me.” You’ll know, if you pay attention to your body as you imagine living the goal. Aim to achieve goals that make you feel happy and free, regardless of societal pressures. It’s important for you to be the best YOU, living YOUR best life.

  1. Change

People like what’s familiar so it’s not uncommon to resist change. For example, people have their side of the bed, their chair at the table, their side of the couch, their way of doing things, etc, and dare anyone mess it up. The familiar is easier because it’s already done, there’s no real effort involved. However, if you want something different to what you have now, you need to let go of the old familiar and create a new familiar, which means change of some kind. To do this you must have clarity about what you do want, not just an understanding of the familiar you no longer want. Get crystal clear and create a detailed vision so your brain can work on it easily and get used to it quickly. Write down the specifics! Importantly, take time to chunk big goals down into smaller goals, to avoid getting stuck or confused when it’s time to take action.

  1. Value Conflict

Your values are what are important to you in life, but sometimes your values can conflict with your goals, even if those goals are something you really want. I will explain using an example.

John has a goal of financial freedom. He is presented with an opportunity to make a lot of money and of course this is great news as his goal will be realized. He gets excited and motivated to excel. All is well for the first while but then he starts to feel uncomfortable as his wealth grows. He experiences an emotional tug-a-war as he is reminded of something — family. John values family, but he grew up in a family that believed money and evil go hand in hand. As a child he repeatedly heard that people who make money are greedy and unkind etc. Now, presented with a wealth creation opportunity that he wants, he runs the risk of losing something very important to him. i.e. family acceptance. “What if my family reject me for being wealthy?” If the value conflict is stronger than the goal, John’s motivation to excel could wain and he could go back to doing what his family are comfortable with. So, it’s very important that you make sure you align your goals with your values. That may mean reframing or bringing in another value to attach the goal to. In this case, John also happens to value helping people. What if he reframed the situation and instead of seeing wealth as a bad thing, he aligns it to having a strong ability to help people in need whenever and however he wanted? Might that make him more motivated to become wealthy? Of course! If the need to help people outweighs the need to keep family happy, he will do it. Reframes can be worked on for every goal, so it’s important that you understand what your values are. I have included videos on this in the club membership Self Discivery Library, so make sure to watch them. (If you are not  member yet, you can join here https://www.donnakennedy.com/join-donnas-club/)

  1. Challenge

Challenge is another crucial ingredient for motivation to achieve your goals, but there is a sweet spot for growth. If something is too challenging, it can cause fear and overwhelm, but if it’s not stimulating or challenging enough, it can result in boredom. Review your goals. Are they challenging you in the right way? Tweak them if necessary to ensure they allow you to grow and expand.

  1. Support

Humans are designed for connection not solitude. We are social creatures, and our very survival has depended on it. To achieve your goals, you need connection to people, especially during times of challenge. It allows for support, input, accountability and sharing. If you work alone, consider linking in with groups of similar interests and make sure to connect with people outside of work. Balance is key!

  1. Burnout and overwhelm

I have written a full blog about overwhelm as it’s a very common issue in the fast-paced society in which we live. If you feel like things are getting too much make sure to read it. Exceeding your human capabilities and pushing yourself too hard is not sustainable. If you’re feeling tired and drained, it might be an indication that you need a break, and it is okay to rest!  You cannot pour from an empty cup. Intentionally take rests and get adequate sleep to recharge. You’ll be a lot more enthusiastic about your goals.


Everyone is different and how people approach even the same goals can vary. The key is personal awareness of what motivates you and demotivates you, so you stay alert, passionate, and clear about what actions you need to take. To help you become more aware of yourself and get more clarity on making your goals a reality, you are welcome to download my free Ebook here, if you haven’t already https://donnakennedy.com/#ebook or consider joining my membership club https://www.donnakennedy.com/join-donnas-club/ so you really level up with confidence. With club membership you can also get exclusive access to live monthly webinars and they will be of great benefit to you.

Live now, live fully!