This probably sounds strange, because my life is actually fine. I have a good job and a loving family – but I constantly want more. I’d like to change my job, see the world, and get fit. I keep making plans, but they just remain plans. I’ve no motivation and I don’t know why. Can you help me?
What you’re going through doesn’t sound strange – striving and wanting more are universal human traits. It’s what makes us get up in the morning and keeps us going when things are tougher than we expect. However, it’s certainly not uncommon to find out that your plans aren’t moving into the action phase.
It seems to me that there are a couple of things at work here. As you say, your life is comfortable, so you probably have a feeling of inertia. Nothing’s bad enough to drive you to change it, but you also still feel like there is more out there for you to achieve.
It’s a phenomenon of our age that through social media we are able to see (or think we see) how others seem to be doing so much better than us, and this puts pressure on us to equal that.
So here’s what I think you should do. First, it’s important to recognise and gain pleasure from what you have and what you’ve already achieved. If life is a metaphoric mountain to climb, then you’re already at least halfway up. Taking stock and appreciating what you have can be just as fulfilling as planning for the future.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have plans! I feel what you are experiencing is ‘plan fatigue’. You’ve overwhelmed yourself with too many plans and have ended up not knowing where to start. Creating effective goals is actually an art, so here are a few things you can do to kick-start things for yourself.
Choose a single thing you want to achieve and set a time limit on it. Don’t make it a big goal like travelling the world or getting a new job – make it something that will be reasonably challenging, but that you know you can achieve if you focus on it.
Then identify the steps you need to take to accomplish this goal and write them down in order. This way you have a clear path to follow and you can tick them off as you go.
Recruit a significant trusted other, share your plans and enlist their support. Evidence suggests that if you tell someone you trust what you want to achieve, it’s more likely you’ll be successful.
And that sense of success will motivate you to pursue other goals too. When you overwhelm yourself, you end up doing nothing. In turn this causes that downward spiral of a sense of failure, which feeds the apathy – the why-bother-because-I’ll-never-do-it scenario. But building in milestones means you get bite-sized tastes of success – and this is addictive! Reward yourself when you hit each milestone with a small treat and you’ll soon be looking at the summit of that mountain.