How to get — and stay! — motivated…
We’ve all been there at some point in our lives: A project looms on the horizon, but for whatever reason, the gumption to work on it just isn’t there. You should go to the gym, but you just don’t want to (the couch looks so much more appealing). Once again, you waited until the last minute to finish up a paper, and now your mind’s gone blank, the curser blinking aggressively before your eyes.
These are familiar scenarios, scenarios I’ve seen play out in my own life all too often. But how do we get past it? Past the waxing and waning of own own motivation and drive? Motivation, like creativity and athleticism, takes nurturing and tending to. If we let it fall by the wayside, it’s that much more difficult to pick back up again. Muscles atrophy, skills diminish.
Personally, I tend to have a lot going on. Between my 9-5, freelancing, and a personal blog, I have, as they say, a lot of balls in the air. And through the years, I’ve had many, many people ask me how I manage to keep it all going at once. My answer, always, is momentum. While rest and self care is undeniably, inextricably, part of the process, I’ve found that as soon as you allow one ball to fall, they all do. When you slam on your brakes, you create a traffic jam. When you… well… you get the gist. That’s not to say I haven’t created a traffic jam or two (or twenty), we all have moments when we feel motivation take its leave, when we’d rather bury our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not all happening and generally be irresponsible, if only for an afternoon. But that’s no way to live and no way to see progression in yourself and the work you do. To help us all stay at the top of our game, today I’m sharing 6 ways to keep your motivational boat afloat. Read on for my tips, then be sure to add your own in the comments:
Be prepared: Pack your lunch the night before, sleep in your gym clothes, put the coffee grounds in your French press ahead of time and fill up the kettle with water. Recognize all the barriers that you’ve placed in your way, and then work to remove them. It’s true, some obstacles may be inevitable, some may even be insurmountable, but half the time we place limits on ourselves that are easily dealt with, it’s just a matter of taking action.
Find your zone: Maybe you work well with music on, maybe you’re like me and enjoy zoning out in the ultimate silence of noise-canceling headphones sans-music – however you work or workout, being mindful of the practices that make you feel most productive will help set you up for success. On the flip side, if your regular routine just isn’t doing it for you, maybe it’s time to switch things up. Trade the gym or office for some fresh air, make a new and invigorating playlist, or try being a night owl every now and then.
Maximize your time: Whether I like to admit it or not, I’m a morning person through and through. Doesn’t matter if it’s fitting in a workout or working on a creative pursuit, those early morning hours are when I’m most likely to put my whole heart into something and have that creative energy flow freely. Words transcribe faster, workouts are easier. I know that if I put things off for later in the day, I’m not only less likely to actually do it (sayonara, workout) but the task at hand actually becomes more difficult. When you’re feeling motivation wane, look to your schedule and pencil in a few ‘dates’ for yourself during the time when you feel most at ease with the task at hand.
Just do it: Vow to do whatever it is you’re having trouble with for at least 10 minutes every day. Run, draw, write, cook, sing, dance… whatever… 10 minutes. That’s all it takes. More often than not, that 10 minutes will pass in a flash and you might even decide to push on a little longer. Do this daily, and soon enough you’ll have yourself a new, super productive habit.
Seek inspiration: And no, I’m not talking about scrolling through Pinterest for hours on end (guilty) or following more fitness accounts on Instagram. When motivation takes off, it’s up to you to go find it, and there’s a great big world out there that will help you do so. Instead of sitting behind a screen or opting to zone out on your phone, get out and see something new. Visit a museum or gallery, go to the library and poke through art books, make a workout date with a friend (and keep it!), borrow some cookbooks from a coworker or two. Get your senses tingling and your mind racing by experiencing something fresh and outside of your regular routine.
Recognize burnout: There’s a difference between losing motivation and burning out, the trick is to recognize it. It’s just as important to take creative breaks to re-calibrate and reinvigorate your mind as it is to take rest days from your workout routine to allow your body to heal and reset. If you begin to feel animosity towards your creative pursuits or your body shows signs of exhaustion, it may be time to take a break and give yourself the care you so rightly deserve. If you begin to feel truly burnt out, slow down and practice some self-care. Read (a book that has nothing to do with your job or practice, preferably), sleep, rest, do nothing. Watch an entire series of that one show everyone’s talking about. Giving yourself time to just be human will make you that much more excited to jump back in the game when the time is right.
+ How do you stay motivated? Please share in the comments!