It is hard to maintain motivation over a long period of time when you are trying to achieve some big goals. Motivation is a feeling that ebbs and flows as time progresses. Bon Jovi sings, “It’s my life, it’s now or never”. This is so true and fits with so many challenges we face in our lifetime.
Think of that time when you have tried to lose or increase weight. You start off really well! You eliminate the junk food you were eating and replace it with healthy alternatives. You start to exercise a bit more and increase muscle tone. Can you identify when your motivation started to wane? It is around that 6 week mark isn’t it?
Now imagine you are in your early 50s and have just experienced a stroke. You find it difficult to communicate because it seems like your ‘tongue is in the way’ and you are slurring your speech. Sometimes you just cannot think of the word you want to say.
After having a significant health event, motivation becomes even more complex. Initially after an event, the body needs to recover from a shock to the system. Often the motivation is limited to just ‘feeling better’. When the body is ready for rehabilitation, motivation picks up and patients are ready to tackle some realistic and attainable goals. It is an important part of my role, as a Speech Pathologist, to help my patients remain motivated and to reach those goals.
Motivation levels, when addressing a goal, are high at first because initially you just want to see results or in the case mentioned earlier, you just want to get the message across to the person you are talking to. Being able to hold a conversation seems impossible at this point in time.
Still imagining yourself following a health event, you make some great gains over the next few weeks. In some cases, you have a set back at around the 4-6 week mark. It may be related to the health event you experienced, it may be another health episode that brings its own set of problems. It may even be a mental set back, which is also common.
This is often when motivation starts to wane. That feeling of “It’s all too hard, I can’t do it” is very common at this stage of rehabilitation and it is up to us as therapists to help encourage and reassure you that your goal is still within your reach. On occasions we may even have to move the goal posts to get you there.
As Dory from Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”