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Motivation, Inspiration & Creation: A Guide To Finding & Maintaining Motivation



"Since the lockdown, I've struggled to stay motivated".


Becoming, and then staying, motivated is not a task that has a sell by date. It is an ongoing process. It’s success is not binary - achieved or not achieved, it is measured on a spectrum. Whether you are working towards a team goal or a personal one, it is important to understand how, why and what your ultimate goals are, in order to be able to maintain a sense of motivation.

Motivation vs Productivity:

Being motivated and being productive are not the same thing. You can be motivated without being productive, and productive without being motivated. The question to ask yourself is this: What is the purpose of the motivation? Motivated to be productive, or to complete a task is only a superficial answer. If you examine more closely, the answer is often something along the lines of: to improve, to create, to learn, to discover, to grow (a business or as a person). Once you’ve found your real answer, you can now redefine what is means to be productive. Productivity is not completing a list of tasks anymore, it is acknowledging the effect of these tasks, and it is these effects that will become our source of motivation. A simple re-examination of the way we view tasks can be really helpful. Which brings me onto...

Examining Your Process:

It can be difficult to be motivated by a mundane (or sometimes even an exciting) list of tasks. It is a lot easier to be motivated by its effects - growth, learning, development, progress, creativity. You often hear people say the phrase “trust the process”, but to trust blindly is ineffective. It is important to know why each task, and each tiny step of progress is worthwhile. Why is it important to make your bed each morning? Why must you learn the A major scale on the guitar? Why must this report contain so many statistics? Why must this risk assessment be so boring?

Some tasks can seem very distant from your ultimate goal, they can often leave you feeling not a single bit closer to achieving your ambitions and their only effect has been to waste energy and frustrate you. Finding the reason behind these tasks is the key to becoming motivated to complete them, as you know the task is just a small stepping stone along the path towards your real reason for doing them - your goals. Perhaps the report will allow you to finally put in the planning permission to build the new studio you’ve been dreaming of. The G major scale will unlock your melodic capabilities when writing your album - the whole reason you started learning the piano in the first place. Fitting the smaller picture within the bigger picture will be a source of motivation.

Tracking Progress:

It has been said many times that the path to success is bumpy, windy, contains U turns, downward slopes and so-forth. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether you’ve achieve anything at all, or whether you’ve just wasted 2 hours carrying out a completely useless task. Are my paradiddles any better than they were last week? Did any of the blogs I just wrote even get read? Was my research useful? Sometimes progress is slow. Painfully so. But it is important we recognise all progress and realise that some breakthroughs take longer than others. Keeping a track of progress is important to staying motivated, and adding a unit of measurement can be a great tactic. Some tasks lend themselves to obvious units of measurement - at how many BPM can I play the A major scale in 4ths? How fast did I run 100m today? Others require different tactics for recording. Yes, recording.

Literally recording yourself can be an excellent motivational practise. Whether it be a recording of a musical performance, a voice note entry about what you’ve done today, about how you are feeling, about how motivated you are right now - it is important to keep a track. Comparing recordings from the past and the present can ensure you stay on the right path, ensure you recognise the progress you’ve made and give a chance to reflect upon the bigger picture and the effects of your work.


Make a mental note of how you have improved and how you have got that little bit closer to your goals with each task, meeting, conversation, thought , practise session that you carried out. Now give yourself a mental ‘well done’. The most important opinion is that of your own, for it is this which will tell you when you have achieved growth, progress, improvement, creative enlightenment etc!

A Healthy Relationship With Comparisons:

Comparing ourselves, or our work to others is not a problem. The problem comes when we allow it to make us feel unmotivated. Why is it we allow the work of others to make us feel inadequate rather than feeling inspired? Is it perhaps easier for us to say ‘I could never do that’ rather than ‘that person worked really hard to be able to achieve that. I could do the same’.

We need to train ourselves to find motivation from others, rather than lose it. It is okay if our gut reaction is still ‘oh man, I am not as good’ or ‘my work is worse than theirs’, but it is at this point we must use our greatest source - our intelligence- to overcome this gut reaction. Let’s replace this with - how can I achieve that? Why, and how, is what I am doing right now going to help me get to their level? Be motivated by the effects of what you are doing rather than trying to find motivation in the detail of what you are doing.

“Filling In The Form”:

In Julia Cameron’s excellent book ‘The Artist’s Way’, she writes of ‘filling in the form’. This is the idea that you must not be daunted by the enormity of an ultimate goal, but instead just look for the tiny steps you must take each day in order to get there. You must work towards it everyday. Even when motivation is down, keep doing what you need to do. Keep filling in those forms.

As we acknowledged right at the beginning, motivation is measured on a spectrum. Some days we have an endless supply, other days it seems to have all dried up. No matter what, you must continue to do the work. You know the effect of each task is a desirable one, you just don't want to have to do the task. You know running gives you the endorphins that feel great, you just don't want to have to run today. Well, you’re got to do it anyway. It is the work on these difficult days that makes the work on the easiest days flows so nicely. It is the way I have forced myself to write every single day despite having nothing to write about, that eventually allowed me decide to write this blog this morning.

Draw motivation from the fact that you can be productive and can work towards your goals even on the days you really don't feel like it. You are constantly moving closer and closer.

Be A Nerd:

Sometimes we need to actively seek motivation. Although we are going to make progress every single day regardless of our motivation levels, we know it is a lot easier when those levels are high. When motivation has been low for longer than you would like, be a nerd. Research around the topic which excites you. Read blogs, reports, watch videos on youtube or tiktok explaining a very technical niche. Realign yourself with the reason you are wanting to be motivated in the first place. Allow yourself to imagine.

Collaborate:

Working as a team, or as a partnership can be hugely beneficial as it allows you to feed off each other energy and ideas. Introducing a new, external source of energy and perspective can have monuments benefits upon motivation.

At GrooveLine Music Education, we run a scheme called Music & Motivation. It is designed to encourage, motivate and empower within the workplace. Through instrumental classes and workshops, we build skills which are designed to boost moral, motivation, efficiency, productivity and a sense of pride and ownership of one’s work. We have found this to be a huge success both for the employee and the employer. You can find out more about this scheme at www.groovelinemusiceducation.com/Music&Motivation


Let me know how you keep yourself motivated, I'd love to hear from you! I hope this blog has offered a new perspective and some inspiration to you.


Thanks for reading!

Will

GrooveLine Music Education

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