5 Ways to Get Motivated Now
by Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
Here is the ongoing challenge. How do we get things done when we really don’t feel like doing anything? How do we get going when we would rather lay on the couch? We don’t want the couch to feel neglected, do we? Or the remote control. How will the remote control feel if it is just sitting there all alone? SNIFF. If you are extremely, empathetic, you may have a hard time leaving your remote control alone. Ok, all joking aside, why is it hard to get and stay motivated?
DREAMS TAKE WORK
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination & hard work.”-Colin Powell
Well for one, when we have big dreams and big goals, it takes work. It is a marathon. There is no such thing as instant results. As the saying goes, an overnight success is 10 years in the making. It is easy to think that success is easy when you see the results but what you don’t see is all the work that led up to that success. Another quote says that there is no elevator on the road to success. You must take the stairs. Everyone must take the stairs. No exceptions. No one gets a free pass. Instead of resisting the road, or the million steps that it takes to get to our dreams, what would happen if we reframed our thoughts? What if we saw the long road to our goal as preparation? As a journey yes, but as a journey full of helpful treasures, lessons, and adventures. Well, I want my stuff! I want my dream now. Actually, yesterday would have been better but I am willing to compromise and say that I’ll take it now.
THE JOURNEY PREPARES YOU
“To embark on the journey towards your goals & dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.” -Dr. Steve Maraboli
It isn’t easy to be patient. It’s not easy to think that the small steps will actually add up to a journey. We aren’t actually guaranteed success. It might not lead us where we think we want to go but it will lead us to where we need to go. Hmm. That is something to consider. Sometimes we think we are headed in one direction but as we are on the road, we realize that is not actually what we want. We regroup. We reassess. We fine tune what we really want. This is part of the beauty of not getting instant results. We can rethink what we want. We can rethink our priorities.
So, with all this uncertainty, why bother? It sounds like a lot of work and I’m not even sure if I am going to end up where I think I want to go. Have you ever had a really challenging situation and you wondered why you were going through it? Later on, because hindsight is 20/20, you find meaning in the struggle. Perhaps you struggled in school. At the time, it was frustrating and discouraging but, looking back, you find that you have more resilience than your friends who didn’t really have to work in school. When you face disappointments in the workplace, you can bounce back faster. When you need to learn something new that doesn’t come naturally to you, you have a system in place. You know how to learn. You know how your mind works and that, frankly, can be one of the most valuable tools that you have in your tool kit. When you know how you work, you can work with yourself rather than against yourself. If you are a morning person, knowing that can help you decide when to do your heaviest lifting work-wise. If you are a night person, embrace it. Figure out how to harness your hard wiring.
So, here’s the thing about motivation. Don’t wait for it to come get you. It won’t. In fact, the more you think about a distasteful task that you need to do, the less you will want to do it. So, yes, ponder it. Try to figure out how to make it work for you but, try to do something today, immediately, if not sooner. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” This is such wise advice on so many levels.
Have you ever build up a task into something awful that you didn’t want to tackle but once you started you thought, “That wasn’t bad. I actually thought this was a 4-hour project but I finished it in 2 hours.” You may find yourself wondering why you turned it into a monster and then spent your energy dreading it. You ruined many days by worrying when you could have wiped this project out in 2 hours.
5 STRATEGIES TO GET MOTIVATED
“Stop wishing. Start doing.”-Unknown
Ok. So let’s talk about some strategies to take that first step. The first step, regardless of the topic, is always the hardest to take. Why is that? We know that we will feel great if we exercise but it is hard to get going. When you have long-term goals or simply a project that you are dreading, although I don’t typically recommend bribery, in this case, I am going to recommend that you bribe yourself. It may be helpful to think: “How much would I pay someone to do this for me? “Ok. Why not pay yourself?
SET A TIMER
“The person who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”-Confucius
This is a very powerful strategy. You can literally conquer the world in 10 minutes a day. So, if you are feeling some resistance towards a task, pick a non-threatening amount of time that you will dedicate to the project and then stop. You may find that once you have momentum you want to keep going. But, if you don’t, that’s ok. A little bit at a time will make a difference over the long run.
Let’s say you want to learn a new language. Dedicate 10 minutes a day to learning the language. Have your list of words and/or phrases that you want to learn. Study 10 minutes. You will be laser focused because you only have 10 minutes. The next day, review what you learned and add more words/phrases if you are pretty confident that you remembered the information from the day before. This really works, I promise.
I was a French major who nearly flunked out of French in high school because I overwhelmed myself with lofty goals. I decided I should really study French for 2-3 hours a day to make any headway. I couldn’t study that much nor that long. My solution? Not to study at all. I don’t recommend that as a solution and I quickly found out that would definitely not help me learn French. I decided to pick a set amount of time that was not overwhelming and focus. I couldn’t believe the results. I aced my classes, I ended up majoring in French in college and I went on to live in a French-speaking country for 3 years. It was a life changing experience.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything else.”-Plato
For some, music can serve as a motivator. You may notice that music can really help you power through a workout. Instead of focusing on the pain, you are focused on the music. Pick the best music for you for the tasks at hand.
Some people can’t concentrate when the music has words because, before they know it, they’ve sung an entire Beyoncé album. For some, this is exactly the kind of music they need in order to get through some tedious tasks. Check out Pandora or another online radio. You can customize your stations. You may have a workout station, a station you listen to when you are doing admin, a station you listen to when you clean. You could even make listening to the particular music your reward. Maybe you only get to listen to Taylor Swift when you are working out. Maybe you bribe yourself by buying some new songs on i-Tunes. Maybe you incorporate the timer idea into the music idea. That is, you will do abc while such and such a song is on. When the song is done, so are you.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”-Jim Rohn
If you don’t have a planner or a journal, you may want to consider getting one, the other or both, depending on your needs. The price range can vary greatly for planners. It is easy to find one at the Dollar Store if you prefer. It may be better to spend less money until you find the system that works for you. Journals, again, range in price. You can typically find a good deal at Marshall’s, Ross, online or at a bookstore. You may want to check Pinterest for bullet journal ideas. You can create your own tracker and check off the days that you did, whatever it is you are trying to do. You can create a daily, weekly, monthly and/or yearly tracker. It can be extremely motivating to see your consistent effort even if you aren’t seeing the results yet. That leads me to the next point.
“Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results.”-Unknown
Let’s say you want to work out 3x a week. It’s not something you love to do but you know you should. Sometimes you wonder the reason you have amnesia about feeling so great after you work out. You have a hard time getting and staying motivated. You really want to create a habit of working out so, why not give yourself a reward attached to a specific goal? Treat yourself to something that you would normally not spend money on. You could even treat yourself to not cooking dinner for one night or an hour of “me” time.
“Celebrate every tiny victory.”-Unknown
It may be helpful to keep track of your accomplishments. It can be motivating to look back and see how far you’ve come. Remember the last time you created a great habit? Enlist some of those skills and strategies to accomplish your new goal.
“And suddenly you know….it’s time to start something new & trust the magic of new beginnings.”-Unknown
The first step is always the hardest. Once you get going, it will be easier to keep up your momentum. Don’t give up. Your goals are worth it and so is the journey itself.