Making it Happen: Motivation
We all struggle with motivation from time to time and even more so if you are struggling with your mental health. When a person feels consistently unmotivated, it can turn into a ruminating thoughts like these:
Why can't I get myself to do it? I know I have to!
I didn't do it! Now I feel worse.
Why on earth did I agree to this?
I don't want to!!
This is going to be terrible.
If you find yourself struggling with your motivation in this time of your life, here are a
few things to consider.
1. Consider your natural temperament. Are you more of a "Type A" planner? Do you have too much on your plate? Consider taking time to prioritize your life. Stick to a few key things that really matter to you, and learn to say no more. Nobody can do everything. If you are spread too thin with your responsibilities, you will burn out and not want to do much of anything- even the stuff that matters a lot to you. Are you "so laid back you're horizontal?" consider that you may be waiting for a "feeling" that may never come. You might never "feel" motivated to cut the grass, send out your resume, do that term paper, do the dishes, etc. Instead of simply relying on feelings, make sure you also are thinking rationally. "I may not feel like cutting the grass, but I won't tomorrow either! If I get it done now, I'll have more time for fun tomorrow and will have a sense of accomplishment."
2. Make sure your goals are realistic, and that you have some! I like the framework of "SMART" goals.... specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Also, writing down goals makes you more likely to achieve them. These goals could be financial, spiritual, relational, personal, etc.
3. Remind yourself how good you will feel after. I enjoy running, and when I don't want to, I remind myself this: I have never regretting going for a run, but I have often regretted when I let a lack of motivation win.
4. Do the hard thing first. Start your day with a sense of accomplishment. Mark Twain says "If you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first." You set your day up for success this way.
5. Build some healthy habits that become automatic for you. Research suggests 21 days to make a habit, so be patient with yourself, and don't quit!. The benefits of this include increased productivity, self-respect, and overall effectiveness. And, we need to do healthy things, regardless of how we feel. How many times have you not done something that would be beneficial for you because you "don't feel like it?" I know I've been there! Remember that sometimes feelings can be good indicators that we need to make a change, but, without balanced thinking, sometimes they can lead us astray.
6. Eat healthy and exercise. Abstain from drugs and alcohol. It's pretty amazing what this does for overall wellness!
7. Sometimes a lack of energy and motivation can be indicative of more serious medical or mental health concerns so it's always good to get this checked out as well. Ruling out physical causes is important.
8. Train yourself to think more optimistically. Negative thinking can be chronic! A good place to start is catching yourself jumping to negative conclusions about things. A "can do" attitude is important. One of my favorite sayings- "Surrender the outcome." Remember that even if a great result isn't guaranteed (and really it never is) that doesn't mean it's not a reason to give it your all. Surrendering the outcome keeps you from getting in your own way.
9. Look at your overall mental health. If you struggle with depression or anxiety or any other mental health issues, while it certainly can be a hinderance, it certainly doesn't mean you can't contribute to the world in amazing ways just like anybody else. It can help to read biographies and stories of people, famous and not famous, who have overcome mental health issues or obstacles to achieve great things and become their best self.
10. As always, a good support system helps. If you need additional support, a therapist who is a good match for you can help coach you on this journey. Reach out!