Motivation or the lack of it garners a lot of attention. Nike honed in on this with their decree to Just Do It!. The temperament characteristic of low persistence/low frustration tolerance can look like a lack of motivation. I see motivation as a gift that for many of us doesn’t show up nearly as often as we’d like. Motivation is often perceived as a desired state and laziness it’s opposite. I don’t think it’s realistic to feel motivated all the time. And though motivation feels good and makes things easier it’s not necessary. I know some people are excited to go to the gym. Not me. I’ve never felt excited to work out. Nevertheless it’s part of my routine. I don’t rely on feeling motivated. If I’m struggling with not wanting to go to the gym I note that maybe I’m tired or unhappy with a new teacher there and I manage those needs and feelings.
Think again of you as your best resource. Slow starts or procrastination are often about needing to put supports in place. We regulate our energy by managing it, organizing our materials, the best time of day for those lower in energy or movement breaks for those higher in energy. When we are tapped out we don’t feel like doing things and need more self care. When we feel pressured or anxious about our performance it’s hard to begin and to persist. Managing those feelings clears the way for more persistence and greater frustration tolerance.
While some people are naturally more persistent and have higher frustration tolerance this is a quality that can be learned. Self regulation of our moods, feelings and energy by noticing and acknowledging them and validating our children’s feelings helps to hone systems that work with who we are. Allowing ourselves and our children to start with small goals and build on them without judging challenges as lazy, without judging at all, instead noting, gathering information as clues towards the best solutions to increase capacity. Start small. Divide things into pieces or help your children to divide and conquer as a way to manage feeling easily overwhelmed.
We can notice the stories we tell ourselves when we get easily frustrated and help our children with their narratives. Not feeling excited or motivated is a common challenge, not evidence of being lazy or stupid. Taking breaks or taking longer doesn’t have to be a problem if we attend to our needs. Great books are written, homework and projects accomplished quickly or slowly, easily or with great difficulty. When we judge ourselves or worry about being judged and when our children do, the brakes go on.