I had the best of intentions when I made a plan the night before to exercise this morning. I meant to put out my workout clothes, wake up when my alarm went off (instead of snoozing), and spring out of bed ready to face my spinning bike.
But then…well…my brain happened. Nothing running through my brain was good enough to motivate me to get out of my warm, cozy bed to sit on a spinning bike for 20 minutes. It doesn’t help I had a seriously awesome dream and wanted to keep right on dreaming. *sigh*
Ugh. What’s the right word here? FAIL.
Of course, later that same day I made a plan to make a plan. AGAIN. I committed myself to the same 20 morning minutes of sweaty spinning. It’s likely I’ll miss my scheduled morning exercise commitment yet again. And for probably another two mornings.
The good news is, there’s a way to break this nasty cycle. Whether you’re lacking motivation to write, exercise, clean or whatever it is that you have the best of intentions of changing, there is a way to get motivated again.
The Truth About Motivation
The truth? Motivation is an elusive unicorn. One day you’ve got it, and the next, well, it’s hiding in the dark forest at Hogwart’s somewhere out of your reach.
You’ll have on days and you’ll have off days. The trick is to keep joyously chugging along whether or not you like it. Remember the children’s book, ‘The Little Engine that Could‘? Exactly.
Sometimes, all motivation requires is getting up off the couch. Other days, you might have to change your perspective and get out of your own way. Either way, you have to simply get up and keep trying.
How To Find Motivation When You’re Stuck
Be mindful of your mindset. Start by uncovering what’s sucking your motivation away. You knew I was going to say this didn’t you? The very first thing I do is look at my day to day life to better understand exactly what is keeping me stuck and unmotivated. It could be something as simple as I’m stuck in some bad habits (coffee, sugar, and wine I’m looking at you), or it could be something deeper. Like what? Well, I’ve had a few confidence hits in the past few years like divorce and job loss. Even though you may feel you’re past them, deep down they could be lurking in your subconscious reaping havoc. Have a quick sit down – call it a self-care moment – and really think about what could be bothering you or what you could change in your daily routine to kick-start things again. Sometimes all it takes is starting your morning differently from every other day before.
Dangle a carrot. Finding a real reason to commit to life again could be just the kick in the pants you need to get motivated. Sure, maybe you had an epic fail the last time you tried to achieve something, but that’s no reason to give up. Remember with success comes failure. By the way, your ego loves what happens when you fail. Why? Well, most people throw in the towel and that keeps you in your comfy wumfy zone. Do yourself a huge favour – find something, anything that can get you excited again.
Quick & simple exercise: Take 5 minutes with pen and paper and jot down as many dream ideas as you can. You know, stuff that you would love to do but something’s been keeping you stuck and avoiding doing them. Hello fellow procrastinator! 🙂 Anyhou…go ahead, write your list, I’ll wait. And no, you can’t use your iPhone. This is way too important and needs to be committed into your subconcious via pen meeting paper.
If you’re stuck, here’s a few of mine that are in my Passion Planner passion roadmap:
- Award winning writer & photographer
- Win the Nobel Peace Prize (super stretching on this one)
- Start a mental health foundation
- Publish my first novel in 3 years
- Get healthy (err, again)
Now, they don’t have to be as uber philanthropic as mine. Even something as simple as take sailing classes, or paint with watercolours will do. Find something that inspires and excites you – something that makes you want to jump out of bed each day. The first few times you do this, you may feel ridiculous, and your inner critic may even chime in. Ignore it and write that dream list!
Set goals. Then make a plan. Oh gawd, goals? What? Please don’t talk about SMART goals. Okay, I won’t. Promise. I know, you’re uber tired of hearing about SMART goals. The thing is, they work – to a point. SMART goals only work if you create a timeline, a step-by-step map of how you’re going to get there. If you create a goal and don’t map it out, where’s the motivation? Where’s the excitement to get you out of bed each day?
Plus if you’re a big picture thinker like I am, you may struggle with the “how do I get there?” Breaking down a goal into small, simple steps that you can work on each day, month, or year will keep you motivated.
Keep going. When roadblocks appear, keep going. Try again the next day. Keep trying until it’s a habit. Your ego will want to fight back. After all, it’s all warm and comfy in your comfort zone and would love to keep you stuck right where you are. Once you start gaining momentum with your new habit or gaining traction toward a goal, motivation comes. You amp up the excitement and motivation with each step you take that’s closer to the finish line.
Quick tip: Set a timer for 15 minutes or make an appointment in your planner each day to just show up. Each day, take that 15 minutes to move closer towards your goal. Be kind to yourself when you’re starting out. You’ll want to resist. That’s what humans do. We resist change. The idea is to keep at it each day whether you accomplished something or not. Once your brain understands that you’re going to show up each day regardless, it’ll slowly stop resisting.
Get your gratitude on. When dark thunderclouds appear, bring the sun back out with some good old gratitude. I like to tell the universe what I’m grateful for on my morning walks. I chant them to myself and smile inside. Gratitude grounds you. It cheers you up, makes you feel all tingly happy (this is the only way I can describe it), and gets you joyfully motivated about the world again.
Annd…because I find I can’t always journal everything, I love these fun gratitude ideas from Sarah over at Yes and Yes.
Get moving. Be like Swifty and “Shake it off”. Go on, shake your money maker for a few minutes. Get your blood pumping and the happy endorphins flowing. If you feel your motivation slumping or its non existent, exercise is your best friend. So go on, dance, run, walk, or pump iron. Remember, science has proven that exercise heals all.
I hate to admit it, but you could say that I’m a bit of a pro at getting motivated again. To be honest, who isn’t? We all battle our brains every day. We juggle what we’d love to do with what society thinks we should do. I’ve had several times in life where I’ve gotten unstickably stuck. You have those moments where you just want simple. Nothing more. You’re tired of trudging and fighting. Then there are those times, where other people or really bad jobs suck the motivation out of you.
Two motivation sucking life moments for me? Divorce followed by a bad relationship and job loss. I cannot even get into how much it hurts your confidence. Sure, you may be strong and resilient, but these types of life events still have an impact. I consider myself a strong woman and some of these life events were my choice, but my emotions and my brain still went haywire. They’re big life changes and you feel like you’ve failed in your grand master plan roadmap. It’s like there’s suddenly a huge question mark in the middle of your life map. Part of you cries and curls up into a ball not knowing where to turn. That part of you just wants to sit on the couch all day binge watching Netflix while eating all the food in the fridge. You know what? It’s okay to do that for a little while. But there does come a time where you have to pull up the big girl pants and shout “I’m not into this destructive procrastinator type behaviour anymore.” You want to get back to living.
During my divorce, I wallowed, whined and complained. I cried. I struggled with all my emotions. I felt confused most of the time. Why? Well, it was my choice to leave, so why wasn’t I happy? You struggle with this type of thinking – the ‘I wanted this so why am I not happy.’ It will destroy your motivation. You’ll want to hide. I finally decided I needed to change my life and mindset. Each day, I made an appointment with myself at 7AM to exercise for 20 minutes. What happened? Well, the first week there was no exercise. I showed up but I stood staring at the treadmill. Or I’d find other things to distract me. Finally, after two weeks I had started moving. The end result? I was exercising for 2 hours a day and after 6 months I was in the best shape of my life. Ever.
Life won’t always work in your favour, they’ll be ups, downs, and curl up in a ball moments. If you work on building better habits and small routines that help you overcome the struggles, you’ll gain consistency and you’ll continue on your path to greatness no matter what gets in your way.