Motivation during the down times

Have you ever experienced anything similar to what’s going on in the world these days? I know I haven’t. Natural disasters, escalating conflict, solar minimum, famine, disease, unemployment, pandemic, isolation… dare I say ‘what’s next’?

Throughout all of this we’re encouraged to focus on staying fit, healthy and mentally well but not necessarily told ‘how’ to get started or maintain  momentum.

If you have a specific goal to achieve but it’s just not happening, or you’re simply trying to make it through each day of this roller-coaster period of isolation, motivation is the thing that makes or breaks any level of success – hands down.

Motivation is actually made up of two parts. First there’s the drive to get started on the thing you wish to achieve, and the second is the willpower to stick to it.

The most effective, long-lasting motivation is created internally. When you rely on external factors you surrender your share of control of any progress. When you motivate yourself, you remain in the driving seat and this leads to more enjoyment, more satisfaction and a stronger sense of achievement.

Here are a few pointers to help kick-start and maintain motivation.

Create clarity – Specify your goal, whatever that may be

Think of your main goal, it doesn’t matter how big or small you think it is. What is it that you’d like to be motivated about?

Once you’ve got a specific task, ask yourself

• What would happen if I achieved it?
• What wouldn’t happen if I achieved it?
• What would happen if I didn’t achieve it?
• What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t achieve it?

This will give you a clearer idea of what will happen when you do or don’t achieve your task. These answers become your motivations. Write them down.

Take those motivations and paste them up everywhere. Keep the list with you in your wallet or purse, on a flash card, on a scrap of paper, stick them to your computer screen, your phone lock screen or anywhere else that you regularly look at and therefore be reminded of them.

Take time to sit and think about NOW

Just sitting and thinking… sounds counter-productive doesn’t it. But to achieve anything, you must have a plan of attack; A simple plan that allows you to make a start on your journey.

Plans are created through thought. So, sit down and have a good think. Use some meditation techniques or a good guided visualisation – whatever floats your boat, just DO IT! I can suggest a few good ones – right here ;o)

Bring your wandering mind and its thoughts back to this moment NOW. What is happening RIGHT NOW is all there ever is. All that ever exists. And it’s in this moment NOW that you can begin to focus on a plan.

You can take a moment to mentally recharge whenever you are feeling a little drained. One of the most motivating things you can do is to physically rest and mentally refresh yourself at regular intervals.

You’ve got this!

We can often be very critical of ourselves but we can also be our own greatest cheerleaders. Here’s a blog post all about being your own cheerleader. Focus your mind towards the positives in your motivations list and believe that anything that cannot be controlled by you is alright. Tell yourself, “it’s fine”, and keep going.

Move it, move it, move it

Exercise of any kind will keep you energised, refreshed, motivated, it also gives you an active time to reflect on things.

Examining your thoughts while you exercise can double your productivity. If a challenge springs to mind you can push a little harder and use that energy to fuel an even better workout.

A walk outside in nature (if permitted) or gentle jog can become very introspective and the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain can reduce stress and enhance motivation as a natural by-product.

Exercise your mind as well by doing things differently; Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, swapping knife and fork around when you eat or take a new route to the office (if you’re back in already).

By doing this, you’re developing a growth mindset and training your mind to enjoy new challenges. This can be applied to the goals you wish to achieve. Sometimes having a new insight or different approach to life can excite and motivate.

Share your goals with others

Find at least one like-minded person who can support and check in with you through the good and bad times. These people will share in your triumphs and failures, be genuinely happy and, most importantly, be there for you. Feeling alone or having the wrong people around you can destroy your motivation.

Turn up the tunes

Listen to your favourite, uplifting music. Create a play-list that has all the music you love listening to that makes you feel motivated, inspired and high-spirited. Play that soundtrack first thing in the morning and at regular intervals in your day to give yourself a good lift and a strong shot of motivation. Feel free to dance around ( go on, no-one can see you) and release those feel-good hormones.

What does your success feel like?

Imagine your life after you’ve achieved your goal. Allow yourself to really step into the vision or the feeling. When you have a clearly-defined image or feeling, you will be more motivated to pursue the big picture. Revisit that thought or feeling regularly and allow it lift you.

Every step of the way

Huge goals almost always take time to realise. We often don’t see all challenges it took for others to achieve their success. We just see the end result. This can be frustrating because your own slow progress can become a drain on your motivation.

So, on your journey towards success, pay attention to each step and celebrate how far you’ve come! Remember the challenges you’ve accomplished so far and be proud of yourself. The celebration will inspire you and build a more effective you.

Set a series of tiny, short-term goals and celebrate reaching each one on your way towards your main objective.

Ultimately, motivation starts in your mind, if you use one or more of the tried and tested techniques I’ve mentioned, you’ll hopefully find yourself crossing the finish line much faster than you could imagine.