10 Very Simple Ways To Reignite Your Drive And Motivation
Sometimes, even the most go-getting person can have times where they feel like they’re idling in neutral. You might call it a slump, a rut, or just a bad case of the horizontals, but no matter what you call it, when you’re in one, most motivational advice just seems exhausting. So here are 10 super simple ways to reignite that inner spark that powers you through life.
Once you get your motivation back, you’ll become more resourceful and resilient, and your goals won’t seem so far out of reach.
#1 One goal sets you on your path
Not knowing how to start is the most daunting part. Don’t leap impulsively into a huge lifestyle change, or tackle too many tasks at once. Figure out one goal that’s achievable now, and can be scaled up once you achieve it. When you see a path, it’s easier to forge ahead.
“Lose 20kg” or “Keep the house clean” are hazy goals, but “Do some exercise every day” and “spend an hour once a week on cleaning” sound much more doable. Write your goal on sticky notes and post them at your desk, beside your mirror and on the fridge.
#2 Just start it!
The problem most of us have is that we’ve got no momentum. When climbing stairs leaves you puffed, running sounds impossible. And doing your tax feels overwhelming when you’re already swamped with work. But a chore is never so bad once you’re actually doing it – so make the first step towards your goal really, really easy.
Tell yourself you only have to do that first step and then you can stop for today. If you’ve decided to exercise, put your runners or swimsuit on. If you have to wash your car, fill a bucket with warm, soapy water. Once you’ve done that, taking the next step seems easier. And so does the one after that, until you’re on a roll.
#3 Build on little wins, forgive tiny losses
When you keep your stakes small, your achievements encourage you to keep going, and you can easily rebound from slip-ups. If you washed a load of dishes, for example, it’s easier to put them away while you’re there.
Conversely, who cares if you didn’t go running today? Forgive yourself for not doing that specific task, and maybe you’ll be more likely to walk around the block instead. It’s still exercise. You’re still working towards your goal.
#4 Recognise ebb and flow
You physically can’t maintain energy and focus all the time. You’re not a machine. Instead of berating yourself for being slack, roll with your daily cycles of ebb and flow. Try attacking a task in short, intense bursts interspersed with breaks, rather than trying to ‘push through’ or ‘stick at it’.
And don’t overcompensate for a bad day by trying to work twice as hard the next day. You’re setting yourself up to fail, and the vicious cycle will continue. Life isn’t like filling an ice cube tray; yesterday’s bad juju doesn’t need to spill over into today. And tomorrow could even be a cruise control day when everything feels smooth and easy. Take things as they come.
#5 Get support
True drive comes from within – but it’s nicer with passengers. Spending time with family, friends, colleagues and mentors – meeting for coffee, or even a quick phone chat – can help you enrich and recharge. Gravitate to energetic people who make you want to be better.
But beware social media. Don’t waste hours in a feedback loop of checking notifications, scrolling your feed and thinking up witty comments. You’re only making procrastination feel productive.
#6 Treat other people as inspiration, not competition
Because everyone wears their game face on social media, you can get the false impression you’re lagging behind. Everyone struggles sometimes, with something. Outwardly successful people are like the proverbial swans: you don’t see the effort it takes them to project an appearance of serenity and accomplishment.
Ultimately, we’re all running our own race, and other people’s success doesn’t make you a loser. Instead, use them to encourage yourself: “If they can do it, so can I!”
#7 Rediscover small joys
Even mundane, repetitive tasks can be satisfying. Your muscle memory creates a working rhythm, leaving your mind free to wander or to listen to interesting podcasts or soothing music.
If you’re feeling flat or gloomy, pop outside and take time to observe five things you’ve never noticed before. The scent of jasmine on the breeze. A geometric pattern of shadows in a stairwell. A pigeon’s iridescent plumage. Keep looking for beauty and variety in everyday life, and you’ll find it.
#8 Focus on how great your success will feel
Don’t dwell on how hard it is to work towards your goal or how far short you are. Instead, imagine the delicious meals you’ll soon get to eat. Falling asleep in freshly laundered sheets. The relief of knowing your finances are sorted. Being in the exotic destination you’ve always wanted to visit. Your body’s newfound strength and capabilities. These feelings are a way to taste your success now, and keep you moving towards it.
#9 Trick yourself into treating yourself
‘Self-care’ is often framed as ‘treating yo’self’ – chilling out and being pampered. But here’s another way to think of it. Tackling unpleasant life stuff is an even better way to care for yourself. Sure, you might hate it (although following points #7 and #8 can help). And yes, it’s confronting to attempt something you’re not great at yet. But it’ll ultimately make your life nicer and easier.
So be kind to yourself. Even when you’re struggling, you’re not ‘lazy’, ‘unproductive’ or ‘mediocre’. You’re working hard, you’re seeing progress and you will nail this.
#10 Remember your own power
You might feel powerless now, but you weren’t always that way. You still control your immediate surroundings, and you always decide how to respond to the situations you find yourself in.
Remind yourself of how you are when you’re at your best: your most fulfilled, most ‘in the moment’. Psychologists call these ‘peak experiences’. How did yours feel? Remember, if you did it before, you can get back there. And it’ll be amazing.
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Mel Campbell is a freelance journalist and cultural critic. She founded online pop culture magazine The Enthusiast, and is author of Out of Shape: Debunking Myths about Fashion and Fit. She blogs on style, history and culture at Footpath Zeitgeist and tweets at @incrediblemelk.