Family Tip Sheet: I Think I Can, I Think I Can.. Stay Motivated!
You may find that your family members are suffering from a lack of motivation over the past few weeks. Motivation is often impacted by the powerful emotion of fear, and there is quite a bit of fear these days. But as the saying goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way!
How can we stay motivated during turbulent times?
It is first helpful to understand that there are two basic types of motivation:
Intrinsic motivation is found within. It is that sense of purpose and drive that helps us accomplish a goal for our own satisfaction. Intrinsic motivation can lead to more interest, more enjoyment, more persistence, and more success.
Extrinsic motivation is powered by the offer of a reward or to avoid negative consequences or punishment. The best forms of extrinsic motivation are ones that provide feedback and reinforcement for completing a task or job well.
What can I do now?
Procrastination and a lack of motivation are often intertwined. But did you know that procrastination is not an issue with time management but with emotion management? The following tips can be helpful for you to model in order to support and encourage your family members’ emotional management and incite intrinsic motivation:
Self-compassion leads to more positivity and more productivity. Give your family permission that your day-to-day routines are not your normal ones. Take time to adjust, and know that your family might not run as its normal well-oiled machine right now.
Dream big with little steps
Encourage your family to move beyond their focus on the present – known as “present bias.” Riff of the “highs, lows” dinner table game by asking what they achieved today, what they want to achieve next week, and what they want to achieve in six months. Focus on long-term goals, but then help family members break their paths to success into smaller steps or smaller goals with The Game of Life activity.
Much of our lack of motivation comes from a feeling of “situational overwhelm.” When we slow down, we can create the space needed to reframe a situation and find the positive in the negative. One of my favorite memes recently is the reminder that “You’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.”
Feed your passion
Help family members recognize what makes them feel happy, fulfilled, or accomplished. We all can find the time and motivation if it’s something we want to do; something we value doing. Make sure to dedicate time in the day for such work – and remember that “hobbies” count as work, a.k.a., passion projects, too.
Give a gold star
Extrinsic rewards aren’t inherently bad. It’s when extrinsic rewards are excessive that they can have what is called an “overjustification effect.” In actuality, extrinsic motivators can encourage us to try something we may not have thought we were interested in; they can push us up and over that hump; they can provide feedback or reinforcement, which can increase intrinsic motivation over time.
Let it go!
You can’t wait for the right mood to hit in order to find the motivation to move forward. So when all else fails, join in a family rendition of the popular song, Frozen from Disney, which reminds us:
It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free … Let it go, let it go!
Darri Stephens is a former member of Teach for America and a seasoned educator, with more than 10 years’ experience in Los Angeles and New York City public schools. She’s a published author, who has also worked for education-focused media companies including Nickelodeon, IMAX, EdSurge, and Discovery Education. With master’s degrees in education from both Harvard and Stanford, she’s passionate about creative curriculum development that pushes boundaries, especially considering the influx of today’s technologies. Her most recent positions as Senior Director of Content at Common Sense and Director of Education at Wonder Workshop underscore her love of instructional design, writing, and the ever-changing edtech world – so much so that she has now founded her own content consulting agency, Darrow Ink.