In his book Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan explains the foundation of motivation. True and sustainable motivation comes from within ourselves. No outer incentives are as powerful as our own motivation from within. According to Chade-Meng Tan there are three elements of motivation:

Alignment: aligning our work with our values and higher purpose.

Envisioning: Seeing the desired future for ourselves.

Resilience: The ability to overcome obstacles on our path.

A very powerful way of finding our motivation indeed. Asking ourselves why we do something helps us see how our work is aligned with our values and where we are going.

I’d like to add a fourth element: space. We need to feel the inner space to do it (our project, new habit, studies, work), to think about it, to be creative with it. If we are full with things we have to do and worry about and with undigested feelings and emotions etc. then it’s difficult to feel enthusiastic and motivated about a project.

It’s crucial to find out for ourselves how we can create space, regularly, so that emotions, worries and restlessness don’t accumulate but keep being taken care of. Then we are also taking care of our own creative space, enthusiasm and motivation.

Once we have created some inner space we can make our inner space grow by taking free time to look inwards and hold whatever is going on in there. Slowly we will realize that our inner space and our heart are infinite. This needs continuous ‘maintenance’ for our space though!

It can be we need 10 minutes a day of absolutely nothing, lying under a tree, or a 45 minute total relaxation/body scan, an hour walk or a 30 minute sitting meditation. Maybe a bigger space in the weekends and some cloud watching or journaling during the week. This is for us to find out.

If we feel full, how can we enjoy adding more thoughts, experiences and ‘to do’ items to our list?


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