What Is Extrinsic Motivation and How Does It Work?

What Is Extrinsic Motivation and How Does It Work?


Are you wondering how to get your life back on track? First, you need to ask yourself this question: What is control, and what does it look like to you?

Does it mean having the proper balance between your personal and professional life, or is it more about having the skill to make quick decisions? Control is defined differently by each person, and every once in a while, we let that control slip out of our hands.

Once that control slips, we have two options: to grab hold of it, or completely let go, which then results in a domino effect.

Take Tom as an example of the domino effect.

Tom has a great job and goes to the gym regularly. He eats fairly balanced meals, and although he isn’t strict on his diet, he’s consciously aware of what goes into his body. He has a loving wife at home, and also picked up photography as a hobby outside of his work because his hobby makes him happy.

Now, Tom recently got thrown a project at work, and it has been stressing him out. He’s been taking his lunches at his desk, and it’s usually whatever is on-the-go. He tuned himself out in his social circles, rescheduled his anniversary dinner with his wife, and stopped going to the gym altogether. He tells himself, “I’ll make it up when this is done,” and continues to focus solely on the project at hand.

Months later, Tom has completed his project and is given a well-deserved accolade for his hard work. Although Tom feels accomplished, he feels a disconnect. His social circles have planned a gathering without him, he’s packed on several pounds from neglecting his diet and the gym, and although he makes up the anniversary dinner with his wife, she doesn’t seem genuinely interested anymore.

The moral of this story is that things usually feel out of control when we begin to neglect or ignore the things and people who matter to us, even if it’s temporary. It’s at these times that you may start wondering how to get my life back on track. It’s also about understanding that once you let one thing slide, it’ll become easier to let other things go, which will cause you to feel off balance.

If this happens, there are things you can do to get back on track, eliminate bad habits, and live your life.

1. Do a Life Audit

Life audits are great to help you start paying attention to different areas of your life – career, intimate relationships, family relationships, emotional well-being, health, finances, spirituality, and creativity. When it comes to getting your life back on track, it’s best to assess where you are at this present moment.

There are many versions of the life audit, and it’s about finding a method that works for you. While some may prefer to work on a diagram, which is similarly called the Wheel of Life others would rather answer a list of questions instead. And here at Lifehack, you can take the Life Assessment for free and understand more about your life. Take the assessment now and it’ll give you more clarity across the scales.

When things are beginning to feel out of control, it’s usually a sign from the universe that you must check-in with yourself in order to get back on track. Sometimes, when life takes over and the busyness sets in, we neglect important and vital areas that cause us to sacrifice our health and overcompensate our time and energy in relationships and things that aren’t serving us.

The first step is to check in and see how happy you are in these major life areas if you want to learn how to get your life back on track. Successful people are those who can be honest with themselves about which areas of their life need the most work.

2. Regain Your Confidence

Confidence is the root to how you show up every day and into the long-term. Showing up is more than getting up and going to work; it’s about showing up with an intention for the day.

When things are spiraling out of control, it’s because you lack physical and mental clarity. Although confidence may seem an intangible element to grasp, it’s far more within reach than you think.

Think about what gives you confidence, and find things that correlate to that. If it’s feeling good about your body, commit to fitness. If it’s knowledge, learn from those you admire, or reach out to a mentor you would like to work with.

Once you have control over how you show up everyday, you will feel more control in the other areas of your life.

3. Carry out a Brain Dump

On average, we have 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. Although it’s impossible to keep track of every single thought that crosses our mind, there is still an uncontrollable list that flows into our consciousness, which can get in the way when you want to know how to get back on track.

Some of these thoughts spark inspiration or excitement, while others may trigger stress or feelings of being overwhelmed, which can get in the way of getting your life back on track. Eventually, a long list begins to appear, including things to do, daily chores, errands, people to see, project ideas, etc.

Brain dumping helps declutter the mind and is a chance to bring all those ideas and thoughts onto paper in order to get back on track. By relieving some of that space, you now have room to focus.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or feel that things are spinning out of control, take 15-20 minutes of brain dumping. This exercise isn’t supposed to have structure. Instead, do it free flowingly, and write everything that comes to mind.

Afterward, you can begin shuffling through your notes, and prioritize them into different categories.

4. Organize the Little Things

When you feel like you don’t have control over the major events in your life, always remember you have control over the things that surround your space – literally. This means having control over how clean your house is, how organized your drawers are, if you eat healthy, how much money you spend, how often you see family and friends, etc.

The little things add up and can also help you feel like you’re regaining control of your life and reduce stress along the way. This is a great place to start if you want to learn how to get your life back on track.

5. Define Your Purpose

Redefining or identifying your purpose is a root that must be planted within you. This, in fact, is the core of building your motivation.

If you want to learn how to identify this core motivation, you can join Lifehack’s free Fast-Track Class – Activate Your Motivation. It’s a free session that will guide you to do just that. Reserve your spot here.

Diving into self awareness can help identify or define your purpose, and that is the core of you. Even in harsh weather, trees tend to stand firm, despite how strong the wind or rain may be. When you define your purpose, you’re building that strong base for yourself.

When things seem to be spiraling, refer back to your purpose and the joy that comes from it. Let that root you as you try getting life back on track.

6. Assess Your Time Management

Time management is a life skill, and one that takes years to master. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to engage in multiple projects, but like everything else, it’s about moderation and portion sizes. Assess your day, and see how much of your time and energy go into certain areas and activities if you want to get your life back on track.

For example, I had a client who worked two jobs. She was exhausted all the time and found herself stressed because she didn’t have any time to herself. She only had one day off, and it weighed heavily on her emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

For one week, I had asked her to write down how much time she was actually spending doing different activities, including work, recreation, and errands. After physically writing it down, we discovered that her work actually took 75 hours of her time a week and an additional 14 hours of that commuting. She only averaged about 5 hours a sleep at night and ran her errands in between work shifts that left her with only one day to spend with family.

The next step was looking at the time she had spent and if having two jobs was worth the mental and physical exhaustion. Afterwards, we broke down how much she was realistically earning.

After having a clearer picture, I had asked her if it was worth keeping two jobs. She answered no.

Sometimes, it takes a bit of breaking things down and seeing where your time is spent, with whom, and if it’s aligned to your needs.

7. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

When things feel like they are stacking against our favor, sometimes we’re quick to put pressure on ourselves to get our life back on track immediately, which can negatively affect our mental health.

Although there’s no one solution to help you learn how to get your life back on track overnight, understand that it’s a series of steps towards a specific goal.

Routines are built through consistency and patience. Actions that consists of “re”– redoing, reinventing, reassessing–means to do something again or differently. Know that this process does take time, and maybe time is what you need first.

The Bottom Line

When life seems to be out of our control, it’s also a sign to slow down and reassess where we are in life. Oftentimes, when things start crumbling all at once, it’s an indicator that we have lost the balance that centers our lives.

Acquiring balance is a lifelong lesson and changes with major life events and throughout time. Next time you feel like everything is happening at once, know that it’s also another opportunity to rebuild and get back on track.

More on How to Get Your Life Back on Track

Featured photo credit: Dmitry Vechorko via unsplash.com



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