Motivation key to living our “best life”

In all aspects and phases of our life, the key to unlocking what can be a fulfilling new opportunity or medical treatment tends to lie behind the scenes – in our motivation.

To me, in this instance, motivation is not about physical movement.  Contrary, I know, since the word “motivation” is derived from the Latin “movere” – i.e. “to move.” Easier to link it to the literal meaning, right?

The most frequent way in which I hear motivation being used is being “motivated to exercise.” Like I’ve discussed previously, it’s my belief (and many experts I’ve interviewed) that “movement is not always medicine.”

In health and wellness, I would define motivation as your determination to seek solutions, to ask the difficult questions, to analyze the care you receive. It’s your get up and go to make your life better, to improve things that you personally think need improving.

The ways motivation comes into play during the day are endless. It could be picking up the phone and making that long-delayed call, opening the book on your night stand, or traveling to the park to absorb all of nature’s beauty.

Whether you’re naturally motivated, it comes in waves, or you are on a quest to find what motivates you, it all circles back to the same road.

“Many of our behaviors are no reactions to internal or external stimuli, but action intended to reach or achieve a goal.”*

I’ve always been a more motivated person. The interesting thing current day is that I’m more motivated than ever, but across the board.  I don’t feel like I’m 100% motivated in one category of my life and 5% in another. I feel there is an equal distribution of my motivation.

It hasn’t always been that way. Depending on our work, influences, and demands it can be tricky to not allocate more motivation in certain areas of our lives.

I’m mindful of the energy expended when being so motivated and also how sometimes when firing on all cylinders, more time for rest is needed or saying ‘no’ to things that don’t serve my highest good. Recall – ‘no’ is a full sentence.  This is so important for finding and maintaining balance and valuing yourself.

I also know that when phases of life close out and new ones begin, finding a new balance will be necessary and take time.

Motivation doesn’t come to a halt when I’ve reached a desired outcome. For example, Botox for migraine is working wonders for me. It could be easy to kind of check that off the list, put it in the ‘done and accomplished’ box and forget about it. Instead, I’m always interested in hearing what my neurologist has to say, researching foods or supplements that doctors or others bring up in conversation, or hearing about new treatments on the market. My success with Botox for migraine has also served as a catalyst for me being more motivated with other health matters. I also try to be a motivating supporter in regards to the health of those I love and feel I influence (via The Honest Migraine).

Yes, it takes time out of my schedule. Yes, I have to pay co-pays. Yes, I have to prioritize myself and my health for this. You ask, what’s the trade off? I’m motivated to lead as healthy of a life as possible, within reason and not to my detriment.

I end up sleeping better at night. I’m not up, wrought with worry. I know that whatever curveballs life throws my way that I’ve got a team of doctors who know my history, and that together we will do the best we can to find treatment options or management of health conditions.

Have you considered what motivates you? What steps, thoughts, and people inspire you or have helped you reach goals in your past?

Think back to the days when you played a team sport and were looking to secure winning status. What all went into that (discipline, consistency, practice, a positive mindset)? I notice the link and how those 4 elements are essential to current day matters.

Practice can be applied in many facets of our life. A recent interview with Stanford expert, Dr. Debra Kaysen, hit the nail on the head. She said, “The way I think about it is when we are trying to learn something new, the best way to do that is to embed it in our day-to-day lives.”

That is the reality of it!

This can include practicing your important talks with your doctor (are you feeling unhappy with the treatment options, him listening to you?), practicing pacing your activities (not standing while chopping veggies, but sitting in a chair), and being mindful of cognitive energy (remember oxidative stress?).

The best and easiest way to help alleviate cognitive exhaustion? “The most effective way to rest your brain is to be flat,” said Dr. Nancy Klimas.

Yesterday I felt pretty exhausted. I took time for myself and laid flat for quite some time. Today I feel so much better!

Thus, rest breaks pertain to the body and the mind. “Take mental breaks; lie down for a minute; then come back and function again,” Klimas advised.

Practice exercising your motivational muscle.

We’re all different. What motivates me could be the polar opposite of what motivates you. Two friends of mine recently shared how yoga has motivated them in various areas of their lives. They aren’t going for the physical aspect of trying to get super fit or show off their bodies. They said that simply for that hour their phones are turned off, they feel they are connecting with themselves, and through that one hour practice, they gain the ability to have mental freshness. They feel motivated when walking out of the class and going back into the other areas of their lives.

Over the years I’ve partaken in yoga and do like the practice of “leaving it all at the door.”

Sometimes we need to leave it all at the door to really check in with ourselves. It allows us to reset the odometer in our life.

I’ve learned what motivates me is consistency and clear understanding of things. Clarity in work, at home, in my medical care, with friends, and of course – with myself! Before all else, we need to have clarity with our individual being. Who am I? What type of person do I want to be viewed as? What do I need to feel healthy (mentally, emotionally, physically, financially)? How does today look in comparison to how I want my future to look? How can I achieve my goals?

Once you tap into your inner self – it can provide the initial path and steps to take to reach those end goals.

These stages can take time. Everything can be looked at as a learning process. A failed treatment, closing the door on a relationship, an injury … I’m a believer there’s always a message being delivered to us yet it’s up to us to find it, process it, and strive ahead.

Taking those and combining it with your clarity can be a motivating factor to achieving things you have not yet achieved.

“Very often there is a big gap between action intentions and actions. We forget to implement an intention, we may postpone it (procrastination), give priority to another intention or replace it by a new goal and action plan.”*

I’m quite aware that this is more common place in society. When it comes to our collective health, why not take those actionable steps and not just leave it at actionable intentions? The benefits could very well change your life in the best way possible.

Here’s to each of us learning more about ourselves, identifying what motivates us, and reaching the goals we aspire in our lives!

*Lens, W., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2020). Motivation: About the “why” and “what for” of human behavior. In Psychological Concepts (pp. 249-270). Psychology Press.

Coming next: Stress, chronic pain, illness linked to decline in cognitive function