We all have one. Sometimes it gets stuck in the off position, or jammed up in some other way. But what is it? The switch that turns on our motivation.

Days may pass, or sometimes months, before a clear and aligned motivation to create, change, or grow in a defined area of your life returns. You wonder why your motivation went away, and you’re not sure how to get it back.

Motivation has to be there in the background, to help us accomplish daily tasks and big picture goals. Most of us do want to create a better life for ourselves, our friends, family, community, and even the world. Without personal motivation as part of our operating system, even the simplest takes seem daunting and undoable.

While getting unstuck might take some work, the good news is that motivation responds to meaningful questions. Is this worth doing? Why are we moving ahead with this plan? Should we refocus and look at our project from another angle? Why am I stuck in the same process, and not asking for outside encouragement and ideas?

As we get older and more set in our habits, we may become less willing to be open to outside influences. We like to feel as if we’re in control. But letting go and being open to new ideas is one of the proven ways to regain motivation and direction. Even if you disagree with the ideas presented, you are getting valuable feedback that tells you how strongly you feel about what was holding you back in your stuck state.

Let’s say you want to lose weight, as many people do in our society. Visualizing an idealized, more muscular body will only go so far. You have to change eating habits and either hit the gym or start your own focused daily exercise routine. At least one of your internal voices will begin playing the excuses tape, reminding you how good ice cream tastes, and how much less effort it’ll take to watch the rest of Season 2 of House of Cards.

Luckily, a more motivated voice in your head will remind you that you can watch the latest Ted Talks online at your gym, and can work out your body and mind simultaneously. The digital world we inhabit can get us over the unmotivated hump in the middle of our week.

Sense memories coupled with habits are powerful things. Once you have one positive experience doing a daily workout, you want to experience the next one, and the next. Changing ingrained habits isn’t easy, or there wouldn’t be entire industries built up around weight loss, business reinvention, or even motivational speaking.

What holds us back, and prevents us from turning on the motivation switch? Sometimes we have to find ourselves in the place where motivation is completely absent, and find our way back to a place of curiosity and meaning. Any type of change activates dormant regions of our brain. When we experience a sudden dramatic shift, even a positive one, we move out of our comfort zone and into uncharted territory. We have to be ready to change what we want to change, and feel good going through the process it’ll take to make the change stick. The trick is to become motivated enough to embrace the big change, or even a series of small shifts, and be willing to truly change our minds, and in the process our lives.

The writing team of Smith and Foster comes from an extensive background of New Media content creation, in both the written and visual content creation side of the web. They are established professionals with writing and art backgrounds, unique perspectives on culture, and two diverse and similar backgrounds.