Has Anyone Seen My Motivation?

Ah motivation, so energizing when it’s fresh and new or gets an unexpected boost. Then there are the times it just disappears. Like, you’ve looked everywhere and it is just gone!

Now more than ever so many people are struggling and feeling like they’ve lost their mojo. Before you read any further, I want to tell you what I tell my clients on a regular basis: give yourself grace. I’m not saying have a pity party, or load up on a ton of excuses to get out of doing what you need to do. 

I’m talking about being kind to yourself. If beating yourself up worked, I’d be shouting it from the mountain tops. It doesn’t. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. It can make you feel like you just want to crawl under the covers and hide even more. Instead, talk to yourself like you would a young child or a close friend. Don’t worry, you’re not getting soft, you’re just showing yourself the kindness and compassion you deserve.

Now I want to share with you what I know from personal experience and work as a health coach about motivation and what to do when you’re fresh out. First and foremost, I think we rely way too much on motivation to drive us towards our goals. I often equate many of the lessons I’ve learned as a distance runner to my life in other areas. So here’s what I know: if I want to run a marathon I cannot only train on the days when I’m motivated. I’ve got to get out the door consistently or race day is going to be more painful than it has to be.

Second, learning the hacks around routines and habits will keep you going when motivation has left the building. Whether we’re aware of it or not, many of the behaviors we engage in all day long are built on habits and routines. Some are healthy and some not so much. When we create consistency around our habits we can relax and know that they will carry us. Right now previous beloved habits and rituals have been broken (gym time, friend time) and we are making new habits, some we like and some we may not. 

So if you are feeling stuck and want to give yourself a motivation boost there are a lot of ways you can do that. Just remember motivation doesn’t always reappear when it ghosts you again, sometimes we need to nudge it back. That being said, motivation boosts can be fun!

Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

Tune into New Music - Finding a new playlist on Spotify or downloading some new songs can give you the mental boost you need to get something done and make it more enjoyable while you do. Now have a dance party, go for a walk or run to get the blood flowing through your body and brain. 

Treat yourself to a new tool/gear - It’s not retail therapy I’m advocating, as shopping can be a slippery slope. Add to cart will not fix any mental/emotional challenges you may be experiencing so be careful. I add this idea to the list because anytime I have new running gear I get excited and want to take it out for a spin! Perhaps you are working on eating healthy to boost your immune system, a new vegetable peeler might make those salads more inventive and exciting.

Try mixing up your routine - These don’t have to be big changes. For example, my partner and I have gone for a walk together almost every morning since the quarantine started. Monday through Friday we take the same route because it’s quick and we have work to do. Now and then through when I feel like I’m dragging we simply walk the route in reverse. It’s a simple change, it doesn’t require any extra time or effort and it gives me a boost because I get to see things differently.

Take bite size chunks - When a project seems too big to face you may need to break it down into smaller or even micro tasks. Taking small steps forward is better than standing still.

Tackle tougher tasks with an accountability partner - Sometimes when we are feeling isolated we need someone else to help pull us forward. A friend, a family member or even a stranger online can be that person for you. You let them know what you are having a hard time finding motivation to do and ask them to check in with you about progress and return the favor. Then you both have someone to celebrate small wins with and support you when you just can’t summon the energy to move forward.   

One more thing I have to share with you before I let you go. Mindset is everything. I cannot speak directly to what your life looks like at this given moment. However, if you pause and think about it, this could be the perfect time to look at the opportunity you have right now to make a shift. Yes it’s okay to grieve what is happening in the world right now but it’s also okay to use this time to create new habits and chase your goals. Let this be a time when you are accountable only to yourself. The decisions you are making about your life, your health and your relationships are yours to make.  up to you!

Colleen Cleary is a certified wellness coach working and enjoying life in the Portland area. She’s on a mission to help as many women as possible reach their wellness goals by creating healthy habits and sustainable routines in the areas of mindset, nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management and more. Outside of work she lives for time with her loved ones, running outdoors, camping and taking in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more and connect with her via her website.