How to Regain Lost Motivation

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  • “The human drive for connection to the future is innately tied to our sense of motivation.”
  • Have you been struggling to stay motivated? Learn how to kickstart your momentum and how to sustain it over the long term!
  • “If your mind doesn’t feel like it’s engaged in something that is going to help you thrive, not just survive, motivation will go down unconsciously and you won’t even know.”
  • Ever lost your motivation? Learn the eye-opening reasons why and how to REGAIN it so you can continue moving forward with excitement!
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Brendon Show. Please note that this episode, like all TBS episodes, features Brendon speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited. Filmed in one take, The Brendon Show has become one of the most viewed unscripted, direct-to-camera self-help series in the history of YouTube. It has also been the #1 Podcast in all of iTunes and is regularly in the top podcasts in Self-Help and Health categories around the globe. Subscribe to the free motivational podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.)

We can all lose our motivation. The question is: Do we regain it? The question is: Do we show up when it really counts? The question is: Are we aware of when it’s lost and what do we do to get back? So let’s talk about losing motivation in this context right now.

Because listen, if you haven’t seen my hashtag on this, I want to let you know it’s not just a superficial thing, it’s genuinely how I feel. I’ve been locked down for 28 days but I keep saying I’m locked down but fired up. Locked down, fired up. I don’t think I’ve ever been generally as motivated in my entire lifetime right now ’cause I can see the opportunity to serve, I can see the need out there, I can accept the challenge on myself to say, “How am I going to deal with this?”

But it doesn’t mean I don’t lose my motivation too. And so what does losing motivation look like? Usually, let’s talk through a few things. First recognize almost all lost motivation is actually fatigue, burnout, overwhelm, and stress. It has nothing to do with motivation itself. It has to do with the conditions around it jacking up your motivation. So fatigue—that’s why we’re going to talk about self-care real fast. And I know you all know this being in our community, but if this hasn’t moved up on your priority list, you’re not even in the game yet.

I talked with another client the other day who’s like, “Brendon, I haven’t been affected by this at all. I still feel good, I still feel strong, business is strong,” felt like he was in a good place and I was like, “Oh interesting, well are you not feeling any fatigue from the news and the media?” He’s like, “No, like you said Brendon, part of my self-care routine is I don’t do a lot of consumption, I don’t read a lot of the news. Maybe once or twice a day, I don’t do a lot of social media.” I said, “Okay that’s cool. You don’t feel like the grind on you, you don’t feel overwhelmed?”

Well, the way his coping was coming out was he was getting more agitated with other people. Not the way he treated them ’cause he’s just a darling man with other people, but you know what was interesting? I heard him say it two or three times. It took a minute for me to pick up on it as a coach. I picked up on it, he was calling other people idiots. I’ve never heard him call his team or anyone on his team an idiot. And he said the word idiot three times on the phone.

And I was like ah, ’cause you know one way you cope with things? Judgment goes up.

Because if you can be sure of your opinion right now, at least that’s some kind of certainty. So a lot of people’s certainty comes through their sense of self-righteousness, their sense of, “I’m going through this and other people are not,” which again is the devil of division, separateness. “Oh, I’m dealing better than them, suckers, idiots.” And you know what happens? If you start thinking the world is full of idiots—lost motivation.

‘Cause you know what? You don’t want to deal with those people anymore. And when you don’t want to deal with those people anymore, you withdraw and unconsciously you lose motivation.

When judgment goes up, motivation goes down.

Why do you think the Dalai Lama is such an extraordinarily motivated man, especially for his age and health conditions? Because he’s so accepting and loving of people.

When you are accepting and loving of where people are at, as an opportunity to serve, your motivation is different.

So how does this come back to self-care, Brendon? What the heck are you talking about? Well, this person didn’t realize his fatigue was coming out as judgment, his stress was coming out as judgment. He didn’t make that connection. But because he was not taking care of himself, because he was bragging about working three times as much and it’s not affecting him and everything’s fine, what came to be true was he was fatigued. He lost his self-care routines. Your self-care should be A plus right now. And for most people, it’s not.

Most people just double—listen to this—by the way, it’s historical, in economic recessions and depressions, household budgets for alcohol double. Do you know that? It’s already happened here in North America. Just like, “Oh, let’s just spend more on alcohol,” it immediately happens. Now people are saying, “Well no, no, no, it’s ’cause we’re locked in and we can’t go to the restaurants as much.” No, ’cause when you went to the restaurants, you still spent the same or more. No, what’s happening is people are—their number one way that they’re stealing from their self-care is they’re turning to addictions. Please be aware of that.

Be aware of what you are turning to that’s making you more tired.

‘Cause guess what? A hangover is fatigue, no matter how good your hangover is. The more you consume, drink, eat things that are unhealthy right now—and listen, I’m not here to be a preacher of your health, I’m just here to say it has effects. And since we’re talking about lost motivation, please realize a hangover in any capacity is going to hurt the molecules that we know activate motivation. Dopamine, vasopressin, oxytocin, serotonin are all negatively impacted by any drug use and any alcohol. All of them are negatively impacted.

So please realize that motivation is neurobiological as well.

You can take a group of soldiers and over a 16-week period, measure their sleep patterns and their perceived sense of motivation and drive, and watch it crater. You mess with people’s sleep, you feed them bad things, you make them consume drugs and alcohol and their motivation will drop. And I’m not here to preach ’cause you do what you want. Hey, if you love a glass of wine with your meal, I’m not here to preach about that. I’ll have a glass of wine, no problem, I love a glass of wine, but I’m not likely in times of crises to have a bunch of them. And that’s what’s really important, ’cause I know I already have a compromised brain. Many of you guys know I had a brain injury in 2011 and that brain injury doesn’t go away. So I’m always mitigating. And for me, I know if I over consume bad food or alcohol, the next day, I just don’t feel good. And that slows down my ability to serve or be there for my family when it counts. And right now, it counts.

So please, do your self-care. A convenient acronym to check your self-care is to take your MEDS, m-e-d-s, MEDS. What does MEDS stand for? MEDS stands for meditation, exercise, diet, sleep. That’s your meds, every day.

Meditate, exercise, diet, sleep.

Get those down. Then I like to add the RX on it. What does RX stand for? R stands for relationships. Deepen your appreciation and your presence in your relationships. X is the X factor which to me is supplementation, finding what your body needs biologically to optimize its performance. Many of you guys know, I take my Optimized supplement, which I know some of you guys have, I take that every day so I can stay mentally clear and sharp, especially in times of stress ’cause there are adaptogens and mushrooms in there. So everyone needs it. That’s for me, I know I need that. You might know you need that morning cup of coffee, that’s a supplement if you didn’t know that. You might know that you’re somebody who needs a little extra magnesium, iron, and B vitamins during times of stress. Great, pump those up. You might realize during times of stress, it’s time for you to take your adaptogens, your rhodiola, your ginseng…that might be a time to boost your immunity. Take your mushrooms, your chaga, your reishi, your maki, whatever else I’m forgetting. You got to know, the X factor’s always supplementation but the R factor is relationships.

So MEDSRX, meditation, exercise, diet, sleep. RX, relationship presence and energy, X, the supplementation to keep you going.

Okay, I won’t belabor that point ’cause I think you all know it. Next up, and I’ll move a little faster through some of these. Okay, remember we’re on lost motivation. So let’s come back to this big key topic. And this is, make sure you are listening to motivating voices right now. Motivating voices. If you have a friend or a spouse who’s constantly complaining, immediately stop exposure to that or let them know of its effect. And don’t blame them, say, “You know what, I notice we”—use the language we—”I notice we’ve been really talking about the problems and the complaints about that. Let’s talk about what we’re appreciative of. Fire off five things you’re grateful for. Just help me change my mindset.”

Acknowledge it’s “we,” ’cause all conversations are we, and then say, “Help me, give me five things you’re thankful for, tell me five reasons you love me, say three things that are going good and take control of that conversation.”

Another big idea behind this is: if you’re not listening to positive podcasts or participating in communities like this, this is the time to up that ante.

For those who have funny friends, I have two friends, Dave and Adam, who are literally the funniest human beings on the planet. I’m convinced there are no funnier human beings. And I know you probably have friends like that too, you’re like, “No, no, no, Brendon, my friends are funnier than your friends.” If you have that, let me suggest to you, you should be FaceTiming with them way more often through this crisis. It will change your levity, it will make you motivated. I laughed for like two hours the other night on a call with these two friends. My wife and I were literally in tears for two hours talking to these guys and it was fantastic.

So you have to have those motivating voices, those people who are upbeat. For those who are just now engaging in personal development, go listen to those positive podcasts. For those who are in spirituality, listen to your favorite pastor, whoever that might be, but consume into that, put that literally in your ears as a podcast or a replay of what we’re doing here. It will serve you, it will help rewire the brain and it will take over the internal voices of strife and worry and implant positivity and better mindsets.

So for me, as many of you know, I don’t consume a lot, I just don’t. I don’t consume a lot of social media, I don’t consume a lot of television, I don’t consume a lot, I’m just not a consumption guy except for books, to be fair. But recently I’m like, okay, I got to up my podcast game, I got to up my faith game. So I’m listening to more podcasts from my peers in my industry, I’m listening to more podcasts of faith that are really helping me. That’s really important.

Two other big ideas.

One, remember motivation is triggered by ambition and action. These are the two triggers of motivation.

And not everyone likes the word, not everyone loves the word ambition, but these are the two scientific-backed triggers of motivation. Remove these, motivation doesn’t last. Amplify these, motivation grows. Not my opinion, all of psychology points to this, all of philosophy for over 1,000 years. Ambition, if you don’t like that word ’cause that has a connotation from the ’80s, but ambition just means desire for more. That more can be more depth, more connection, more joy, more abundance, more success in any area, more peace, more harmony, more anything—like people think ambition is separate than peace or harmony. No, if you want more harmony, that’s ambition. If you want a better meditative practice, that’s an ambition for better meditation. Ambition is not separate from yoga or spirituality. The Dalai Lama wants to deepen his spirituality practice. That’s ambition.

It’s attachment to the end result of ambition that can cause suffering. But the desire for greater or more or new, that’s okay. It’s when you are attached to how it has to go that can ruin your motivation.

So let me talk about these two things. Number one, ambition, the most important things for those who want motivation again, you must get back into a first 30-minute morning routine in which you connect with your ambitions. What does that mean? You better look at your goals every single day and don’t just look at them—look at them, feel them, visualize them, talk through them, think about them. See, right now you’re obsessed about the news and social media. I need you to obsess about your goals and your ambitions and your dreams again.

Instead of lying awake worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, lay awake trying to force your mind to visualize the ideal future. Your mental time towards visualizing, feeling, and self-talking about your ambitions and your goals are driving your motivation up or down.

See most people say, “Well, it’s not realistic now, Brendon.” I’m like, “I know, it’s just required now.” It’s not realistic for you to achieve all your things, but if you lose touch with your idealistic future, you will lose your motivation. So key for people.

What else do we know? Well, we know that in all of psychology, that motivation often follows momentum. Action, action, and this is a real sticking point for people right now in that people think, “Oh well, you know, I’ll just pause all these things and see how this goes through.” You need to make positive progress every single day. So what I want you to do in the morning, I do this with my High Performance Planner, you guys can do it with whatever tools you have. I want you to write down your goals, your dreams, but listen, some people fill it out in the morning, I fill it out in the morning, I think about my long-term dreams and then I just sit with it and I visualize it, I think through it.

How can I do that with excellence, how can I make that fun, how can I do that in uncommon ways that I’ll enjoy? And let your mind stew on creating ways to achieve your dream. Let your mind stew on creative ways to enjoy the day. You need to be visualizing more than you ever have before if you want motivation to sustain.

That is a simple action everybody can do. Get really close every morning to your ambitions. And then also, just to get action, ask, “What are three things that I absolutely will do today that are not just household or health tasks?” Meaning, get your workout in, big achievement, feed the kids, big achievement, I still need you to do three things beyond surviving. Three things, what would it be? You know what, I’ll send that one email. For me, lately it’s been: I’m going to shoot this set of videos or I’m going to create that web page or I’m going to send out this prospect email for me and my business.

I just need something from you every day beyond surviving that your brain goes, “Oh, I’m not just surviving.” Listen, it has to be beyond self-care too. Yes, do your self-care, but I want you to go beyond self-care. Listen, I want you to all really tune in to this, be very attentive to what I’m about to say.

If the mind only feels like it’s doing the things that are necessary for self-care and survival, it will lose motivation still.

That’s the trick of the human brain. So let me say it another way, if all you think about is just self-care, which is powerful and you must, and survival stuff, powerful and must, but if your mind doesn’t feel like it’s engaged in something that is going to help you thrive, not just survive, motivation will go down unconsciously and you won’t even know.

You’re like, “I’m doing all the things, Brendon.” And I hear this from people all the time. “Brendon, I’m doing all the things, I do yoga, I get a massage once in a while, I only eat green things, I run, I exercise, and I still have no motivation.”

Oh, because if the mind doesn’t touch the rim of the future, if the mind doesn’t every day touch the rim, do something that reaches for an idyllic future state, motivation will wane.

It is one of the rare unique things of the human species when we study outside the human species, animalistic drive versus human drive.

The human drive for connection to the future is innately tied to our sense of motivation.

And what’s happening is many people are obsessing and ruminating on the inconveniences of now, the threats of now and the fear of now, and they’re giving more time to consuming what is in front of them than they are to visualizing what could be.

I’m here to say if you lost motivation, you didn’t lose motivation—you lost your touch with the future.

You didn’t lose motivation, you lost the time spent touching the helm of the future by doing something simple today that has a positive impact in the future. That’s why I need three things from you every morning, these are your three things beyond self-care and beyond survival. One of those things can be sending an email. I need you to do something beyond just survival and self-care, I need you to do three things every day, it could be one email, one video, one something, one project that touches the helm or the rim of the future. If you’ll get three of those every day, that to the brain will say, “I’m touching ambition, I’ve got some action, I’ve got some momentum.”

And those little pieces of momentum, no matter how big a deal, momentum sparks motivation. Everything will change for you.