Amantha Imber, a psychologist, was responsible for creating social media posts for her consulting firm, Inventium. Although she enjoys writing, she does not particularly enjoy creating content for social networks. As a result, she procrastinated until the deadline approached dangerously close.
That's when her conscientious inner voice took over and shouted at her to get to work: “You have to create the content for social media!
You can't let your team down! Come on, now!”
However, there may be a better way to address yourself for motivation. That's when she discovered the story of Turia Pitt, who survived a bushfire during an ultra-marathon in 2011. Despite burning 65% of her body, she never gave up and is now a personal development coach, speaker, and author of books chronicling her journey.
After giving birth to her son in 2017, Turia became aware of the pressure she was putting on herself by telling herself she “had to” do certain things. So she began working on her self-talk to find a more positive and motivating way.
“I have to go clean her room or I have to make her meal, or wash her clothes,” she would say to herself.
Turia realized that when she pressured herself by telling herself that she “had to” do something, she felt frustration and obligation, which affected her motivation and well-being. So she began to change her inner voice from “I must” to “I will”.
She has found that this approach works in her professional life as well, especially when she has to make presentations. Prior to these times, she often feels very nervous and anxious, fearing that she will not be up to the task.
However, she now remembers that giving a presentation is an incredible opportunity to share her ideas and connect with an attentive audience, rather than just an obligation to fulfill. This more positive outlook allows her to feel more confident and focused when speaking in public.
The “get to” strategy is effective because it turns a boring task into something rewarding by focusing on intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. Often, when we feel like we have to do something, we feel like we have no choice and are forced to do it.
However, by using the “get to” strategy, we regain control of the situation and realize that we have a choice whether to do it or not. It also gives us a sense that our choice is aligned with our personal values and wishes.
By reframing the task in this way, it reduces the time wasted procrastinating and allows us to feel motivated to complete the task, which is beneficial for everyone. The task is accomplished and we feel happy to have done it.
Put it into practice
Think of an action that you know will benefit you, but for which you tend to have a negative inner voice. It may be a work task that you have perhaps been avoiding or putting off.
At these times, you probably tell yourself that you should do it, but you may feel discouraged or put off.
To help you change your mindset, try rephrasing your self-talk as “I will get this task done.
Then think about how this task aligns with what is important to you, such as advancing in your career or doing quality work. This may help motivate you to undertake the task and realize that accomplishing it will bring you closer to your personal goals.