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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Motivating Lazy People In One Step


"Hit them with a stick, halve their rations and put them in the army." Wouldn't it be easy if it were that simple. If it was, the world would now be full of highly motivated people, albeit a bit scrawny and with a few bruises. If you have the unenviable task of motivating lazy people or even one real life Homer Simpson, this article spells out exactly what you must do, and it doesn't involve a stick or the armed forces.
Motivating lazy people is relatively straight forward. With the emergence of Motivational Psychology, there are now numerous strategies for motivating people even if they are lazy or actively resistant to change.
The most important thing to recognize about motivation is that it goes up and down like all human attributes. It is not a fixed commodity. There may well be people who seem like they don't want to do anything, but I suspect they would move fast enough if their house was on fire. Different things drive different people. Whilst I might drag my heels to a Spanish Bull Fight, I'd be first in the queue for free tickets to the opera. I suspect for many it would be the other way around. We are all motivated by different things, which is fine, the big question is finding out what motivates seemingly un-motivated people.
"Fair enough Mr Alex," I hear you say, "but what about the proverbial couch potato; the typical, lazy, un-motivated TV watching slob. What about the Homer Simpsons amongst us?" Again, the same rules apply. Having watched more than my fair share of The Simpsons (only because my children think it's the funniest thing in the world, not, I hasten to add, because I am an un-motivated lazy couch potato) it is easy to see Homer Simpson as the classic lazy, un-motivated slob, except that is, when he has a money making idea. At these times he is positively fizzing with life.
So following this idea through and drawing upon the huge knowledge that Motivational Psychology brings us, in order to motivate Homer Simpson, or someone like him, we need to find out what motivates him. We already know several of the obvious things that he might say, such as, money, drinking beer and watching TV. If he were my client in a motivational counselling session I would be interested to know what else motivated or motivates him. I suspect it wouldn't be too long before he said something about his children and his wife. So now we have five separate motivational drives. I would want to know every single one, a process that usually takes at least 2 or 3 sessions.
You can try it for yourself if you don't believe me. Find a piece of paper and write at the top "Everything That Motivates Me" and begin to write. You will be amazed at what you begin to remember, and I think our friend Homer would be no exception. In fact I think he would be a prime candidate. It often feels a bit like human archeology; scraping away the layers of meaningless years and day to day clutter, to expose the long forgotten dusty remnants of goals, aspirations and values. When enough of this raw ingredient has been assembled it is only a short, but sometimes tricky, step to turn it into pure shiny golden motivational treasure.
This short but tricky step also takes two or three sessions. It always feels overwhelming at first and people have a tendency to use it as evidence of failure and a quick return to the couch and the TV. It's often helpful for an outside eye to have a look at how to prioritize these motivational drives, and perhaps bring them up to date and into the realms of reality. It may indeed be too late to play Centre Forward for Manchester United, but it might be a perfect time to get involved in developing a Youth Football programme or coaching at local level or even getting involved with outreach work from the local professional football club. Once that motivational ball starts rolling its difficult to stop.
Once you have a firm grip of those motivational reins (in a dizzying blur of mixed metaphors), don't let go. You maybe in for a bit of a bumpy ride, but at least it will be a ride and not another day watching TV on the couch.
Read how Michael became more motivated and changed his life completely:
For a complete motivation overhaul have a look at this:
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