Written by: Nate Hager, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Have you ever gotten yourself so hyped up to do something you just dove right in, then, after a few weeks, found that passion drying up? Next thing you know, you’re dreading that which you were once so excited about. It happens a lot – in everything from careers to healthy living, to relationships, to finances – it’s kind of our dirty little secret. It happens to all of us, but we never really want to admit it for so many different reasons. That flagging enthusiasm isn't random or accidental, and motivation really is hard work when you break it down.
Ideally, the picture of motivation looks like someone who starts a project and just gets more and more driven as they go. Achieving ever more impressive feats, easily dodging and rolling with the bumps and setbacks all the way to the end. For most of us, this image is more or less a dream, but it doesn’t have to be. As you all know by now, using NLP, we break down the science of excellence and then use that mental map to teach it to someone else. This is why it’s such an invaluable tool in coaching, and it goes beyond just talking to a client and asking them what motivated them in the first place. In NLP, we look at the mental pictures and the self-talk generating either positive or negative feelings, which ultimately drive or extinguish our motivation.
So how does motivation really work? Let me break it down.
The last time you and your social group arranged a dinner meet-up, your restaurant recommendation appeared from nowhere. Deep inside your head, you had a Rolodex of mental pictures going on with some of the dining spots you've been to. Perhaps you even had a picture in your mind of a dish that absolutely made your mouth water. Possibly you had some internal commentary on your pictures, or you saw other pictures of good times you shared at a certain establishment. Inevitably this train of pictures and self-talk leads you to experience some kind of feeling, which ends in you making a decision. In NLP, we call this a strategy, and the really interesting thing about awareness of these strategies is that we can actually change them to alter the feelings that appear at the end.
Now I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re saying to yourself – hold on there Mr. NLP! I don't do any of that, and I just feel things. It certainly seems that way because these internal pictures flip by extremely fast. What I just described happened in extra super slow-mo. The pictures may only last a fraction of a second compared to the feelings they generate, but there is a back story to your feelings otherwise, I’d be out of a job. Everyone would just be able to “tell” themselves to feel the right emotion for their desired outcome.
Ok, so how does this help get me more motivated? I’m so glad you asked. Take a moment and start thinking about all the things you'd like to be more motivated about. As savvy business professionals with big goals, you’ve probably tried a few different variations on keeping your motivational fire alive, yet you still struggle. The #1 reason why our motivation fails us is a result of what’s called Flipping Pictures. This occurs when our mental images and self-talk flip from visions of greatness to visions of sadness, pain, failure, or despair.
Let’s say you were once super motivated to drop 20 pounds and go to the gym. At first, your mental movies were pumping out images of your toned and sleek beach body, the fun of new wardrobe shopping, or that smoking hot revenge figure you’re about to show off. These pictures gave you the feeling necessary to sign up for a gym membership, research how to eat healthy, or pay for either exercise gear or a personal trainer. At this point, you’re on fire and you’re all set, but here’s where reality enters the picture and the flip occurs. After a few weeks of missing your favourite foods, sweating buckets on the stair machine, dragging your tired aching body out of bed, being unable to learn the steps for the Zumba class, or watching all the other lifters bang out sets and reps at weights you could only ever dream of. These new pictures are now the only ones that come up when you think of losing those 20 pounds. No longer do you see the looks of awe on people’s faces when you enter the room. My new book, The Slim Zone, is dedicated to nailing the change of internal mental scape required to make eating and exercise a success. It’s fair to say it takes more detail than this article can hold.
In the business world, this might look like deciding to launch your own start-up. You can see your business vision; the type of projects you could work with, happy customers, growing profit margins, the talented staff you're going to hire, an office space you can customize, and maybe you can even see yourself giving TED talks about leadership and successfully growing your business. Again, reality enters the picture and you’re struggling to write a compelling business plan to secure your funding. Investors are turning you down pitch after pitch. After months of executing you're struggling to attract customers, you're overworked and overwhelmed, you can't afford to hire the staff you need and the bills keep coming due. Your movies are now all about the things you have to give up because you aren’t drawing a salary.
How do you change these pictures then?
Let me share a quick hack for when you start to feel unmotivated. Ask yourself first what picture is making you apathetic. Now it’s worth noting that sometimes this isn’t a quick process. We don’t always know what pictures are tripping us up, so practice patience and keep at it. When you see the picture, give it a big ol’ slap and watch it shoot off into the distance, getting smaller and darker. Now imagine the picture has a giant rubber band attached to it, and when it bounces back at you, the picture flips to the original image that first got you motivated. Let that sucker fly right back at you! Getting bigger and bigger until it's larger than life and touching your face in a way that feels motivating and exciting. Each time you do this trick, picture a future time – say days or weeks – and see yourself doing the actions and behaviours that will move your journey forward. Make this your morning routine, repeat the process three times, and notice how much more motivation you have.
Nate Hager, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Nate is a board-certified Hypnotist, an NLP Master Practitioner, master-level Executive Coach and Certified Life & Health Mindset Coach. Over the last ten years, he’s worked with Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, helping them eliminate self-sabotage to achieve peak performance, raise their earnings potential and build business empires. Appearing on Rogers Business TV and 98.5’s Good News Only Show, he’s passionate about underscoring the benefits of hypnosis in building a fitness mindset, reducing stress and anxiety, weight management, and personal performance. His techniques have shaped the lives of his clients by helping them redefine their identities and bounce back from major life stressors.