Digging Deep

How to Find Motivation When It Doesn’t Want to Be Found

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Creating positive change in our lives is one of the most beneficial and rewarding actions we can take for our health and wellness. It is also so very difficult. Ridding ourselves of bad habits and unhealthy behaviors can sometimes feel like chasing a unicorn. To experience real change, we have to have that perfect equation of desire, willingness, and motivation. The most elusive of the three: motivation.

We all want what is best for ourselves and our loved ones. We all have inherent wellness that is striving to be acknowledged. However, when it comes to putting a plan in action and staying the course, we all struggle from time to time. I can be on a roll for days, even weeks, and then one morning, I wake up to the words “but I don’t want to” on an endless loop in my stream of thoughts. I know that my daily routine is important. I know what actions I have to take to invite joy and energy into my life. I know what makes me feel happy, healthy, and whole. You would think that feeling whole, happy, energetic, and healthy would be enough of a motivator, but some days, it is not. Knowing myself as well as I do, my motivation usually vacates the premises when I have not had enough rest, when I am distracted (ruminating on a past event or worrying about a future event), or when I have no clear goals in place.

Motivation can be elusive for several reasons: maybe you don’t have a strong enough “why” or desire, maybe you lack belief in yourself, maybe you are afraid to fail or want instant results, maybe you do not have adequate support or feel unworthy.

We all deserve good health and we are all entitled to feeling happy and balanced. Wellness is inherent in each of us, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. It all beings with the belief that we are worthy, followed by desire and willingness. But the challenging part is when you have to kick yourself in the tail to find the motivation to follow through on your goal to be healthy and free. I have listed some tips and tricks to help you find the motivation to reach your goals. If you want to lose stubborn weight, be more physically active or be more present with your family — I urge you to take the steps to implement healthy practices into your daily life.

Self-love is not selfishness, it is taking action on something within your control and has a huge impact on the collective. Prioritizing your health and wellness goals is the most profound measure of self-love. No one can ever love you the way that you can. And when you love yourself enough it ripples out to those around you and eventually to the world. Find the motivation and become an active member of the self-love revolution. The very least that could happen is that you find yourself happier, healthier, and more involved with life.

Set a Goal — the number one thing you can do to increase motivation is to set a goal. To prevent goal exhaustion and goal competition, do not aim to set many goals at once. In my experience, I have had better success setting one short-term goal and one long-term goal. This helps to channel all of your energy to make one change. If you have more than one change you are trying to make at a time, your energy gets spread out and places a thin layer across the board. So, get rid of the board. Sit down and contemplate, figure out what the single most important change in your life should be for your happiness and wellbeing. Streamline all of your energy into that one goal. When we try to tackle too much at one time, it is hard to maintain focus. If you have other issues you want to tackle, you can do that once the initial goal has become life practice. The word “practice” is important here, to effect true change healthy habits must become a fiber in the fabric of who we are.

Post Your Goal — write it on your bathroom mirror in lipstick, put it on a post-it, mark it down in your journal. Make it big, make it small, just make it. You can set reminders on your phone. You can come up with a mantra to sing to yourself. Find a photo that represents your goal and put it up in your workspace. The more you are reminded and come face-to-face with your goal, the more it will become a part of your subconscious.

SMART Goal — Make sure your goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timed). Get very specific about your goal — how are you going to work towards it? When? Where? Make sure that your confidence isn’t demolished by attempting to obtain a goal that is too far out of reach. As an example, I have a long-term goal of pressing up into a handstand, which requires an enormous amount of core strength. So, for my short-term goal, I am working daily to lift myself into an L-sit. If the press was my short-term goal, I would feel defeated every single day. Set a time frame for how often you will work towards your goal. A good, thorough SMART goal for me would be: I will work on my L-sit six mornings a week for five minutes. I mean, can’t a girl get one day off? One easy way to add specificity is to install your goal with something you do daily, fill in the blanks here: After/before I (daily habit), I will (new habit). For instance, After I brush my teeth, I will practice my L-sit. Before my morning shower, I will do ten push-ups. Not only does this make it easier to remember to act on your goal, but it also provides structure.

Accountability — tell the whole world about your goal! Ok, the whole world is a stretch. Let those close to you know about your goal so that you feel like you are being held accountable. Post it on social media and update your friends with your progress, the world could always use a bit more inspiration. Being vocal about the changes you are trying to make in your life increases the probability that you will stick with your new behavior. We tend to work a bit harder when our ego gets involved.

Rewards and Celebrate — I love to reward myself for meeting my daily goals. Who am I kidding, I love to reward myself period. Sometimes I enjoy small rewards, such as not having my morning coffee until I have meditated for a few minutes (the coffee becomes the reward). Sometimes I make them a little bit bigger, especially if it is something that I have zero motivation for. An example for me would be running. Because I do slow-paced yoga as my main form of exercise, I have to find a way to keep my cardiovascular system healthy. Running is the easiest answer for me because it only takes me twenty minutes to run two miles. I very much dislike running. So, if I tie on my shoes and hit the trail five days a week for two weeks, I treat myself to brunch. If you have ever been to brunch in Charleston, SC then you know what a treat that can be. Think banana pudding-covered waffles with orange creamsicle mimosas. Celebrate your small victories. Be proud of yourself. Changing behavior and busting bad habits is no easy task, reward yourself for the sacrifice and determination.

Ebb and Flow — know that your motivation will come in and go out with the tides. Everything in the natural world ebbs and flows. We have moments of great inspiration and motivation, and then the next moment it is gone. You are human and you cannot be too hard on yourself when motivation makes itself scarce. If you cannot muster the energy for hitting your goal, it is ok. Trust me, you’re not alone. Try to stay focused on your intention. Read an article on the behavior you are trying to change. Tomorrow always holds the possibility of being a better day. Beating yourself up mentally will signal to your brain that the goal is bad, and you don’t want that. Give yourself grace, and try again tomorrow.

For a SMART goal template, visit my website www.harmonygarage.org/blog/digging-deep-for-motivation

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Natalie Greer

Natalie Greer

Well-being curator + mom + yogi + registered nurse + board-certified nurse health coach — perpetually attempting to capture humanity with language.