Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Motivation And All Or Nothing Thinking

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When your motivation levels are flagging you might see the task in front of you as too daunting and therefore decide to not even try, to save it for another day when you’re better equipped to handle the challenge. This is a pretty good example of the cognitive distortion called all or nothing thinking.

As with all the cognitive distortions, simply changing your perception can open up a world of possibilities. In the case of motivation, realize that doing a little is better than doing nothing at all. You can lower your expectations for output.

Actually what you’ll probably find if you adopt this strategy is that once you get going your habit energy will take over for you, those same hardwired neural pathways will start firing and you’ll find yourself working at about the same level as if you were super motivated going into it. But even if this doesn’t happen it doesn’t matter. Like we said you could do a tiny fraction of the work and it would still be preferable to not doing any of it.

The inner feeling of motivation is a huge assist for external behavior but you have the power to start enacting that external behavior whether you’re feeling motivated or not, what we could call faking it until you feel it. That pressure you put on yourself to do everything at a high level backfires when it keeps you from even starting. Realize that it’s okay to have your output vary over time, what matters is that you stay dedicated and that you find a way to keep going whether your motivation levels are sky high or have hit rock bottom.