"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."
- Viktor E. Frankl
In this column, you will learn simple but powerful tips on how to get motivated when you don't feel like it from a wide range of experts.
Clicking on the expert names below will take you to their individual blurb on boosting happiness.
Do you have trouble completing tasks? Do you lack organization and drive? Have you just lost the motivation to get things done?
These questions identify why so many women and men find it difficult to maintain their momentum through the overwhelm of their daily responsibilities.
Regardless of what your situation is, you probably need to watch out for the following cues that indicate when your original excitement and drive is falling apart around you.
There are 5 major areas that can collapse your motivation.
1. If you find yourself easily distracted or unable to stay on task, it may be you lack FOCUS. Your motivation stays strong and driven when you know what you want and keep your attention on the end result.
2. How often do you complain that there’s not enough hours in the day? Your motivation cannot withstand the battle of OVERWHELM. This means that you can’t be doing too many things at the same time and expect to get it all done. Tackle one thing at a time and your results will be more positive.
3. It’s impossible to maintain your motivation if you are PHYSICALLY EXHAUSTED. In other words, if your energy is zapped, you lose your enthusiasm, as well as any motivation to get things done. Therefore, be sure to get enough sleep, eat right and find time to relax.
4. Is the task too boring? BOREDOM is a huge motivation killer. If what you’re doing isn’t exciting or mentally stimulating, your mind will shut down, and so will you.
5. Your overall ATTITUDE can put a damper on motivation if you don’t want to do what you need/have to do. Negative thinking is a habit. You learn to think a certain way and eventually it becomes what you always do. Be aware that a task will take longer if it is done with resentment and obligation, rather than from the heart.
What can you do to get motivated when you are experiencing all these energy zappers?
To guarantee that your motivation stays strong and committed, be sure you have a strong vision of what you want. Keep your vision sharp in your mind, ruminate over it and experience what it will feel like when the job is done. This will keep the flow going and give you a fabulous sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that you completed the job in a timely and well thought-out manner.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
As humans, we naturally gravitate towards what feels good and fervently avoid what doesn't. From this perspective, it makes sense why motivation can be so elusive; if the change we wanted to make was easy, we would never have to search for tips and tricks to accomplish the task.
That said, there are powerful ways to unlock that motivation and reach your goals:
Envision your success
- Paint a picture as to what you and your life will look like once you've achieved your goal. Picture every detail and what you'll feel like once you get there. Paint this picture every day. The more you envision it, the more real it will feel and the easier it will be to get there. If you can't picture it, you can't attain it.
- Your beliefs shape your actions. If you tell yourself that it's too hard or that it's just not possible, you'll sabotage yourself and bring this negative thought to reality. If you believe that you can meet your mark, you will act to make it happen. Never underestimate the power of your mind.
Break it Down
- When a task feels too big, we often get overwhelmed and shut down. Start by breaking down the task to the smallest, most manageable pieces. Once you start moving, take it step by step through this process. Avoid focusing on ALL the moves you'll have to make. Use the mantra, "one step at a time" and praise yourself for every success along your route.
Clear Out the Roadblocks
- If you find that you are applying the three tools above but you're still not getting any traction, start doing some emotional digging. Search your soul as to what is really stopping you. If you can picture the goal and believe that you can realize it, what is keeping you from doing the work? Laziness? Feelings of worthlessness? Figure out the root cause and clear it out of your path. If you need assistance with the task, reach out to a therapist for help.
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
What is motivation but wanting to do something more than you don’t want to do it?
Really, that’s it, folks. The subject may be a bit more complicated than that, but you’ll want to keep that very basic definition in mind. For example, would you need to write on your to do list, “Go to lottery office and pick up $1,000,000,000 check” or would you go because you really want the money? Let’s face it, we don’t need to psych ourselves up to do things we enjoy and that bring us immediate pleasure.
Here are six tips to get and keep you motivated.
#1. Stop telling yourself you don’t want to do something.
The worst thing you can do to generate motivation is to remind yourself how much you don’t want to do whatever it is. When you keep saying, “I so don’t want to do this” or “I wish I didn’t have to do that,” your brain takes that in as negative reinforcement. So, tell yourself not how you feel, but how you wish to feel.
For instance, rather than say, “I don’t want to walk to the corner store in this snowstorm,” say, “I could use some exercise and a short walk to the corner would be just right.” Tell yourself how you want to be feeling, which is positive, not how you are feeling, which is negative.
#2. Don’t think about the thing you don’t want to do, but how good you’ll feel when it’s done.
For example, instead of complaining to yourself that, “I really do not want to call Mary,” say, “I really want to call Mary because I’m going to feel so relieved after I do.” I call that leapfrogging, jumping over what you don’t want to do and pretending that it’s done and you’re feeling great about it. This makes sense because focusing on a dreaded chore or unpleasant action only makes you wish to do it less, while thinking about how relieved or proud you’ll feel when it’s done, makes you happy. And feeling happy is a terrific motivator.
#3. Never use external motivators like should, must, have to, need to, or ought to.
External motivators are downers and only keep us bullying ourselves. How much did you love being told “You need to clean your room” or that “You have to do your homework”? Not much, I’d wager. So never use these motivation killers on yourself. Instead, choose internal motivators such as want, wish, prefer, would like to, or desire.
Get in touch with the reason or reasons you do want to do something, no matter how far down the road the payoff is or whether it’s internal (pride) or external (a paycheck).
#4. Don’t call yourself a procrastinator
Procrastination has a highly negative connotation, so don’t apply it to yourself. The word “procrastinator” sounds like we’re bad people just because we don’t want to do something. You are not bad. You’re just uncertain or conflicted. This is normal. We don’t feel all wow about doing many things. That’s simply how humans are. Don’t cause yourself to feel worse about not doing something by making yourself into a bad person.
#5. Maintain motivation by focusing on successes
Success psychology tells us that people who stay motivated do so by focusing on what they’ve done well, not what they did poorly or what they have yet to do. Most people, however, seem to do the opposite. They keep nagging and putting themselves down for what they did wrong or get bummed out about all the things they’ve yet to do. No wonder they’re not motivated. Only focus on your successes and talk them up to yourself. This will make you feel great and motivate you.
#6. Give yourself lots of compassion
Many people remain unmotivated because they say awful things to themselves when they haven’t accomplished what they wish they had: I’m so bad, what’s wrong with me, I’ll never amount to anything, I’m so lazy, etc. How do you feel when you speak harshly to yourself? Not so great. And not so great is not a feeling that motivates you. However, when you cut yourself slack and remind yourself that you’ve got a lot going on and understand why you didn’t get to certain tasks, how do you feel? Human and that is a pleasant feeling which is likely to motivate you.
Practice these tips and, over time, you will find yourself becoming more motivated. And motivation breeds more of itself. Give yourself plenty of praise and encouragement, and you’ll have the right recipe for accomplishing your goals.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
Have you ever been faced with a task that needed to be done, but you just couldn’t find the motivation to get to it?
Then it kept nagging at you, causing you to feel guilty and unproductive.
We have all been in that situation, perhaps more times than we’d like to admit. And while I’m an advocate of choosing to do what delights you, sometimes you just have to complete an unpleasant or boring task that has to be done, no matter what.
We have only a limited amount of willpower at our disposal, so what can you do to get the job done?
Here’a a process that I’ve used both with myself and with clients that has proved to be successful and quite painless.
1. Tell yourself that you will spend only 5 minutes on the task. Anyone can take anything for just 5 minutes! Set a timer to go off. At the end of 5 minutes you get to take a 10 minute break.
2. When the timer goes off, assess how you feel. If you need to take the break, take it. Set your timer for 10 minutes, then, after the break, go back for another 5 minutes of work. ( You know you can do it now!) Repeat the process, assessing how you feel when the timer goes off after 5 minutes.
3. If, when the timer goes off after 5 minutes, you feel like you’re on a roll, set the timer for another 5 minutes and continue working. Each time you assess how you feel—do you need the break or are you into the task now?
Often the hardest part of motivating ourselves is just getting started. When you know you don’t have to spend more than 5 minutes on it at a time, it can make easing into the task much more emotionally manageable. You may even find it’s not as bad as you made it out to be.
Estra Roell, Life Purpose Coach– www.americaslifepurposecoach.com
This is such an unending topic of conversation. How many of us have remarkable intentions and countless ideas floating in our head?
Some of them have been there for years! I wager you could identify one of your own right now. Something you have wanted to accomplish for a long time but well, you just have not been motivated to get it done. I truly believe each of us have an innate desire to progress, to improve ourselves and our relationships. You are not alone in recognizing the difficulty in getting started and then staying on the road to completion.
Here are 5 things to combine with your goal to get motivated.
#1. Do not expect to find motivation in the middle of feeling unmotivated.
Will power is a limited resource, do not rely on it when you do not have much (or any) at the time. It is extremely difficult to make knowledgeable, smart decisions in the moment. There are too many temptations that hit us daily that are not in line with our goals. We need to plan ahead.
#2. Make a Plan.
Every night before you go to bed, make your plan for the next day. Pick a day of the week to plan your week and every year around the same time, plan your year.
What are your long-term goals this year? How can you break that down?
I would include in your daily planning how you will feed yourself on a spiritual level and how you will feed/hydrate your body. Where will you fit in vegetables tomorrow? Where will you fit in fruit? How will you fit in all the water you need to be drinking?
I recently planned for this one for myself by the way. I decided I needed to drink more water each day (I am not a big water drinker). I researched the healthy amount for me in addition to talking to my doctor. I fill up half that amount the night before in a designated container and place it by the kitchen sink and my goal is to drink the entire amount by noon. Then as soon as I am finished, I fill it up again and drink the second half by 6pm. I have proudly been doing this for several months now and it has made a significant positive impact on the way I feel each day.
We need to plan for when and how we will implement a behavior with the goal of it becoming automatic. Once a behavior becomes automatic, we do not need to rely much on will power anymore.
#3. Thoughts precede behavior.
In Tommy Newberry’s book: The 4:8 Principle, he talks about making a “To Think List”. A “To Think List” is essentially creating a list of thoughts we will have about the next days planned activities. Include truths about our potential, past successes, and desired attitudes. This helps us become intentional thinkers and in turn very intentional doers!
#4. Know and review frequently the bigger picture.
Whatever it is you want to be more motivated about, know why it would be worth it in the end. List the benefits and memorize them. Hang a representation of that end goal somewhere you will see it daily and review your desired result frequently with a trusted support person. This will be especially necessary to review every time you relapse into unmotivating thoughts and behavior.
#5. Celebrate your accomplishments especially the small ones.
At the days, weeks and years end, reflect on all you accomplished and decide what you would like to keep doing. You can even do this as a part of your planning time at the end of the day. Small wins help us to continue taking action and move on to bigger ones. Recognizing your achievements is important to help maintain the right perspective when you feel like you’re not getting any closer to your end goal.
Barbara C. Murray, MSW, LCSW – www.barbaracmurray.com
A lack of motivation and focus is a common struggle for many people. It can be difficult to find the work ethic and determination to accomplish all that you have set out to do. Staying motivated in life boils down to your mindset; once you can work on that, it is much easier to maintain motivation and focus.
How To Deal With a Lack of Motivation and Focus
· Identify what your goal is. Oftentimes people struggle with a how to stay motivated in life because they are looking at it in a too general way. It can be overwhelming when you just look at motivation or, lack there of, as an overall personality trait and struggle. When you can pin it down to one specific goal that you want to achieve, it is much easier to manage and navigate. Once that goal is reached, you move onto the next with the same mindset. Then it will get easier as you move forward.
· Make a list of the benefits of maintaining motivation and focus. Think about all that you gain from reaching your goal. Read your list when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed. When you find your motivation and focus wavering, pull out the list and read it. Include concrete tangible profits as well as the positive impact it will have on your mental state. For example, let’s say you are struggling to get a work assignment done. Some of the benefits on your list might be:
-“I’ll be able to keep my job.”
- “I’ll make more money.”
-“I’ll feel less stressed when it’s done.”
- “I will feel proud of myself and accomplished.”
· Put a reward system in place. Just as you train a dog by giving them treats, apply the same logic to yourself. There is such a powerful impact on your mindset when you associate doing something with a concrete positive outcome. The idea is to counter a lack of motivation and focus with a stronger reason to get right down to it. Let’s look at the work example again.
Break the project down into smaller parts. When each part is completed, reward yourself with something; this can be anything from 30 minutes of t.v., to a food indulgence, to slightly splurging on buying something you have been wanting. Find what works for you.
· Problem solve the roadblocks you are encountering. Think about what things deter you from your goal and allow you to rationalize your lack of motivation and focus. Consider what is specific to this circumstance as well as the things that generally get in your way. Then find a solution.
For example, if your environment is not conducive to productivity, rather than let it be, make a change. If your phone buzzing becomes a distraction, turn it off while you are working.
· Deal with what is standing in your way. Ask yourself why you are not actually working on your goal. Look specifically for any anxieties and fears. A lot of the time, anxiety and fear is what is standing in your way. Worrying about things like not doing a good job, being judged for the outcome or final product, or failing, can be a strong deterrent from even trying.
By making sure that you are addressing this and bringing the anxieties to the forefront, you can actually deal with it. Flip the script and tell yourself that you can do it and it is better to try than just leave it as it is. Be your own cheerleader and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
· Think of it as a done deal. Often when you have trouble staying motivated in life, you resign to that mentality. Knowing that typically this is an obstacle for you impacts how determined you really are.
When you try to buckle down and get something done, you might be telling yourself something like “I know I’m not really going to do this.” Instead, talk to yourself as if you are always motivated and as if your goal is already reached. Using imagery can help with this; imagine yourself after you are done in terms of how you look, think, and feel and what the end result is.
The bottom line is that maintaining motivation and focus is very dependent on how you think about yourself and your goals.
Using these above tips will help you change your narrative to one that is more conducive to a motivated and focused mindset. You can start to no longer see yourself as someone who lacks motivation and focus as well as mentally counter the obstacles that you may encounter. Go get to it, your goals are within reach!
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC - www.alyssamairanztherapy.com
Motivation isn’t the cat you call when you stick your head out of your front door.
So much of self-help books is dedicated to finding and creating motivation.
And what most of us need to know is that that’s a waste of time and energy. Motivation is elusive and when it comes, we simply ride the wave.
When our wells of motivation are dry, we create momentum instead.
What this means is we break down our goals into the simplest steps.
If I want to lose 3 inches off my waist, here are my steps:
1. Look for coach/trainer
2. Choose, pay and commit
3. Show up especially on the days I don’t feel like doing it
When you break it down, everything feels do-able and manageable rather than a challenge.
Receiving support means we don’t do it alone— and believe me, as an introverted lone wolf, I’ve balked and winced at doing things with others. Yet found it one of the best things ever. Because I simply had to get over the voices in my head that people would laugh at me and I’d be the alien from Mars.
When you commit to your first step, the next step becomes more automatic. You feel this sense of achievement— the dopamine rush is amazing, and that’s where you may have an infusion of motivation.
And you’re likelier to repeat it.
Because BJ Foggs once said this— if you want to floss your teeth, commit to just flossing one tooth. You’ll end up doing everything.
Your first tiny steps are the behavioral equivalent of a gateway drug.
And if I want to commit to the transformation I’m making, I’ll:—
1. Keep rewarding myself (It’s like downing a shot of dopamine)
2. Get clear on everything I get when I commit, and everything I don’t get when I drop out— in other words, the costs and benefits.
3. Be kind to myself and celebrate every single step.
4. Know how to deal when I fall back
It’s not about being self-congratulatory, narcissistic or pompous.
We spend enough time bitching about our flaws and what we’ve failed to do.
It’s time to celebrate the steps we take, no matter how small we perceive it to be.
In fact, remove the words ‘small’, ‘tiny’ or ’stupid’.
A step forward is a step forward.
Dr Perpetua Neo - www.perpetuaneo.com
One of the main reasons I became a weight loss management coach was after seeing that most programs failed to motivate people enough for them to succeed in following those programs.
Let’s face it, dealing with an unattractive and boring meal or eating packaged or precooked meals are not always appealing. If we add the fact that we may even feel hungry and totally deprived during those weight management programs, it gets even worse.
In life, things not always go the way we would like them to go. No matter what we try. Adding more difficulties does not help much. Most people’s lives are full of good intentions that never materialize.
We tend to overestimate the power of willpower, not understanding that willpower is really very limited and that we use it during our day to take actions having barely anything left when we get home at night, exhausted.
That’s when we need it and want to rely on it the most. Trying to use willpower as your motivational tool is a recipe for disaster!
One of the things I have learned over the years teaching my program, is that to learn we not only need to understand but we also need to make that knowledge ours. We have to owe and love that knowledge so that we are willing to apply the learnings and make changes.
If you are looking to make changes in the way you eat and in your lifestyle, so you can get healthier and in control of your weight, a program that doesn’t mean anything to you, doesn’t stimulate you to look for changes and doesn’t challenge you to learn new things, won’t be able to motivate you to make these profound changes.
An important thing I tell my students and clients is that I don’t own a magic wand and that I have never believed in magic pills. They are the ones that need to make the changes happen.
But I know very well the challenges my students face and how easy it is to lose motivation to make changes in food and lifestyle habits.
That’s why I have never been happy with any of the weight management programs out there and I decided to create my own one. And that’s why it took me 4 years to develop it and have it ready, so that I could be sure that my students could succeed with it.
A successful program is not just a series of actions, or simply a diet where the student/client finishes the program having learnt nothing but what to eat and what not to eat. It must be specifically designed with the student in mind. It must teach basic principles and the why’s rather than the do’s and don’ts. It must address the challenges faced by the student at each step ahead of time.
If you want to stay motivated to make changes in your life, whether to get control of your weight or achieve something different, you need to find a method that you like, that arises your interests, and challenges your ideas and beliefs.
More importantly, it has to teach you so you learn from it, so you can internalize that knowledge and make those changes.
Taking responsibility over what you are doing rather than having something external controlling the process will be the only way to achieve success.
What do you think? Are you ready for the challenge? Would you like to start giving a try to my Free Online Course: Are Beans Fattening?
Arantxa Mateo, Nutrition Specialist – www.32mondays.com
I think this is something we all face at some time.
Things we know we need to do or things we would like to do but just don’t feel like. First, you need to look at your surroundings. Are they as negative as you feel? Are you feeling blah because your surroundings are full of time with people who are negative or non-colorful items?
Motivation is a positive empowering emotion.
If you are in a dark place sort of speak, it will be difficult to be strong and positive. Second, do you speak in a manner that is negative? How many happy things do you notice around you or places you go? How many times have you noticed someone being nice and taken a moment to appreciate the power that person had to determine what they were going to do instead of sitting back feeling sorry for themselves?
Noticing the positive around you and speaking it yourself is a powerful way to improve your self-image and general perspective.
It is difficult not to do something when you feel happier and more positive about yourself and your surroundings. You are in control of who the people are around you and how you make your life. If you don’t like where you are start with these steps and continue.
Next you need to define what it is you need to be motivated about.
For instance, if you are wanting to lose weight, have an idea of what you want to be. You are not trying to be someone else, that is impossible. You know what areas need to be worked and how much weight overall needs to be lost. Once you know the specifics as they pertain to you, start creating a plan. No matter what you want to be motivated about, it won’t happen overnight. You need to do as small of steps as possible, achieving that small goal to move on to a larger one.
If you spend your time beating yourself up for having to take steps and not already there, you won’t get anywhere. If your brain turns against you this way, do something. Anything, blow bubbles, work on a paper, walk around the neighborhood, decide where you want to meet your friends…… Anything that is not a negative attach on yourself. Getting out of the habit of beating yourself up go a long way on maintaining motivation.
It does not matter how long it takes you to get there as long as you are moving forward.
If someone else is bragging with you as an example, they are just telling you they are threatened by you or they feel so badly about themselves they cannot allow you some “happy dance” type moment. It truly is about their issues not yours.
So, evaluate your surroundings, evaluate yourself talk, define the factor to be motivated about and define a plan. You’ve got this!
Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC – www.fairwaycounseling.com
It’s a quote we often laugh at, but the truth of it can be far from funny. We want to be motivated all the time, we want to get more done, we want to be proud of ourselves, but what do we do when our motivation is lacking? How do we get everything done when we feel like we can’t get anything done? The longer we procrastinate, the longer our to-do list becomes, and the more overwhelmed and less motivated we feel. It’s a cycle most of us know all too well and one that can become a way of life if we allow it.
It is completely normal for someone to be highly motivated at the beginning and towards the end of a new project or task.
In the beginning we are excited with all the possibilities and the outcome of our goal, and towards the end we become excited about reaching our goal. So what do we do when we are stuck in that middle ground where so often motivation is lacking? In that place where our initial excitement has worn off and the end goal still seems too far out of reach.
Revisiting the end goal is a great idea, but you have to go deeper than just reaching the end.
Spend some time really looking inside yourself. How will you look, feel, and act once you have reached your goal? Get very clear on this, write it down and post it everywhere you can think of. You want to remind yourself several times a day why you are working towards this goal. Ideally you did this at the beginning, from that place of excitement and possibility, but if not you can make this list at any time.
Now make a list of the smallest step you could be taking on a daily basis to keep you moving towards your goal.
For example, if you are trying to lose weight, you might decide to drink one glass of water every morning, or get up and stretch for 60 seconds twice a day. The key is to make it so ridiculously simple that you can’t fail. Now set an alarm in your phone so you don’t forget. When we focus on one small step the task at hand no longer seems so overwhelming.
Overtime we want to increase these daily habits to keep moving in the right direction.
Putting a reminder in your calendar or phone is a good way to remember to increase these in the future. So getting up and stretching twice a day for 60 seconds may turn into 3 times a day after a week and then become walking for 5 minutes once a day and stretching for 60 seconds twice a day. Keep the steps simple and keep building on them on a weekly basis. The idea is to create a routine that becomes such a habit that you can do it without any thought.
Get up and move!
When you don’t feel like doing anything, get up and walk around for 5 minutes. Seriously, get up right now and move around for 5 full minutes, I guarantee you will immediately feel a difference in your whole body. There is something about movement that gets the blood flowing and your body feeling more energized.
Lastly, don’t stop starting!
No matter what has you stuck or how long you have been stuck, take one small step in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be life changing, but often when we are lacking motivation it can be the difference that propels us forward! Just knowing that you are reading this tells me that you want to get motivated again. Let this be your first small step and propel yourself forward from there!
Kimberly Speer, CLC, ELIMP - www.destinybydesignlifecoaching.com
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