As I have spoken about in a previous blog on teaching what we most need to learn, this week I want to talk a bit about motivation. I have been struggling with a “re-start” after the exhilaration of the Savage Race. It took so much preparation and had me so focused, I feel a bit lost on my next step. It has been difficult to motivate myself to get back into my routine even though I crave that consistency. Writing is a big part of that routine. It is my way of connecting with you and checking in with myself on what is showing up in my office or in my own life that could benefit from further exploration. So getting on track is a process (as is everything else in life, right?) and motivation is a key contributor in both getting and keeping you there. How do you motivate yourself?
The assumption here is that you have some things in your life that you want but do not yet have. Or maybe you have achieved some key goals in your life but want to maintain what you have accomplished (ie, a certain level on your career or work path, fitness, nutrition, self-care, relationships, spiritual practice, parenting strategy, financial planning, house projects, etc.). Sometimes motivation is needed to just get started, to take the first step, to take the next step, to ask the question, to go to the gym, to put down that soda, to get that next certification, to ask that person out, to set a boundary for yourself, to make a some kind of change. To move your life forward you have to take some type of action. In order to act, it is helpful to be in touch with why you are taking such an action. What is your motivation? What do you want or hope to accomplish? What tends to motivate you? Ask yourself these questions and you may get a bit more clear on how to take the next step. As far as creating concrete tools to assist you with motivating yourself, lets explore a few options below:
Create a vision board: For those of you who are more visual, having a picture of what you want can be a great motivator. Create a poster or bulletin board filled with images, words, colors, and symbols of the experiences, things, people, and qualities you want in your life. A vision board can be focused around a particular goal, a specific area in your life, a relationship, or a general outlook for the current chapter of your life. Allow your inner child to come out to play as you create with markers, crayons, cut up magazines, use glue, and decorate it however you like. Allow your vision to take shape as you choose pieces to go on the board. This is a great tool for manifesting something important to you. Posting your vision board in a prominent place in your daily life can also serve as a great motivator and reminder of where you are heading.
Write a list: For all you list-makers, write down what you want. Create a general bucket list. Similar to the vision board, this is just in list form, without all the cutting and pasting. Lists can be a great way to measure forward movement as you check off the different items upon accomplishment. Use the list as a way to motivate yourself to get one more thing checked off. Allow the existence of this list to sit in the back of your mind as a way to remind you that you have a reason to move forward. Keep the list somewhere it will not get buried under all the junk mail that crowds your counter.
Outline action steps: As an extension of either the vision board or the list, allow yourself to set small attainable goals each week that move you towards the bigger picture. This is a great way to stay motivated because it eliminates getting overwhelmed by all the pieces necessary to get where you want to go. When you break it down, everything seems more manageable and its easier to get excited and stay on track. A general rule of thumb is to set 3-5 action steps per week. Depending on other commitments that you have, just be realistic and remember to go easy on yourself. These action steps are what you are going to DO. You might make a phone call, gather information, sign up for that gym, pay a bill, write a newsletter, etc. Each action step is a small portion of the bigger picture. Do not expect to move a mountain in a week. But you may be able to move a couple of boulders! Write down your action steps or record them on your phone and keep them handy. Once you accomplish them, add new ones. Make it sustainable and realistic.
Tell a friend/accountability partner: One of my biggest motivators is when I tell another person about what I am doing. This greatly reduces my ability to put myself on the back burner and lose motivation. When you tell someone else, it becomes more real. And you add a layer of accountability to yourself as you are less likely to step out of integrity when you know that someone may be asking you about your progress each week. Not wanting to have to say, “Yeah, I didn’t get to it this week,” again and again and again can be a great motivator to “Just Do It!”
So as we begin to wind down this year, give yourself some time to explore how you get things accomplished, what motivates you, and how do you want to move forward into the coming year? I hope these tools serve to support you in creating the life you want. If your attempts to motivate yourself consistently result in some form of self-sabotage, counseling can be a wonderful way to dig a bit deeper and remove the obstacles that keep you stuck.
If you have other ways to motivate yourself or have other tools to share, please do so in the comments below. May the words of Eleanor Roosevelt serve to inspire your next move: