There are enchanting times in life in which you truly believe that you can achieve something. Instead of feeling beaten down by life, you feel like an invincible super hero; optimistic, energized, and unstoppable. In those times, you just know that you can have a better life. Everything falls into place and you come alive. Your self motivation ignites.
But, then the moment evaporates. “What happened?”, you wonder. “How can I hold onto that feeling for longer?”
It is easy to quickly get motivated:
1. Listen to your favorite music and turn the volume up! Shake your hips, toss your head, and allow a smile to overtake your lips. Enjoy the moment.
2. Take a few deep breaths to clear your head. As you breathe in, imagine that with each breath you are pouring energy, motivation, and lightness into your body. Visualize the flow of each breath traveling through your body from your toes to your finger tips.
Recall motivational images that make you feel good. For example, imagine that each deep breath is the color of the Sun and see the Sun’s brilliant gold energy flowing through you. Or, each breath could be the same gorgeous aqua blue as Caribbean water. Literally see yourself as a being of positive energy; see yourself having the same energy as the sun or the sea.
3. Take 5 minutes to “replay” past successes. Allow yourself to step back into those times and relive the joy and satisfaction of the achievement. Reliving past successes is a great way to get motivated for your current goals.
4. Imagine how good it will feel to succeed. Every afternoon at 3:00pm, I am tempted to eat an unhealthy snack. Chocolate, chips, and candy all sing me their siren song. To get motivated to lose weight, I imagine how good I will feel when I reach my target weight. I can see myself stepping onto the scale and hitting my target weight. I imagine those red digital numbers flashing on the scale’s screen. It will feel good to be more confident and have more energy. The future benefits outweigh the temporary satisfaction of eating junk food.
These are all quick ways to get motivated. The real question is: how can you maintain motivation in your life? Today, you can play music to pump yourself up for a workout. Or, you can “replay” past career successes to get inspired to start your own business. But, how can you get and stay motivated to workout over the long haul? Or, to stay motivated to start your own business after a draining day at the office?
Learning how to get and stay motivated is a lot like learning to ride a bike. In the beginning, you pump the bike pedals hard and fast and you gain a little speed. It is momentarily exhilarating. Then, you lose your balance and fall off. The pattern will repeat itself for awhile: you get going and then you stop; over and over. But, finally, with both motivation and bike riding, you figure out how to maintain momentum and stay in motion.
Learning to ride a bike is frustrating. It is scary and bloody. Your parents yelled at you as you struggled to coordinate pumping your legs while maintaining your balance. They ran behind you, pushing the bike at an alarming speed. Your arms wobbled as you tried to steer, causing you to do sharp zig-zags back and forth on the road. Worst of all, when you tried to stop, you often ended up falling off, bruised or bloodied. With all of the up-front difficulties, what motivated you to keep trying?
The answer is that you were motivated by a logical reason that was more powerful compared to your emotional motivation.
If your motivation runs high and then low like the tide, then you are motivated by your emotions. When your emotions change, your motivation changes, making it difficult to stick with something. However, when you are determined to carry on in the face of fear or pain, then you likely have a reason that is stronger compared to your emotions. If you want an education in order to have a better job and provide a better life for your family, then you will give up your precious free time to go to school. You will spend your nights and weekends doing homework instead of watching TV.
When you have powerful reasons to do something, then you will not have trouble taking action.
But, when I am conflicted about a goal, then it is hard to get motivated and I usually end up feeling frustrated and stuck. The goal can seem like a good one, but if I am stuck, then on some level, I don’t really want to achieve it.
For instance, you set the goal to get promoted within the next year. That goal sounds like a good idea. But, if you can’t discover the time to start that special project or to do the big presentation, then you have conflicting emotions about obtaining promoted.
Perhaps you don’t really like your job or maybe on some level you are afraid that a promotion would get in the way of time with your family. If you don’t like your job, then it will be hard to get motivated to move up the corporate ladder. Likewise, if on some level, you believe you have to give up something you love (like family time), then you will never truly devote your energy to obtaining promoted.
When I am stuck and can’t get motivated, I ask myself, “What am I afraid of giving up or losing if I achieve this goal?” Intellectually, I know that if I am not making progress, then there is a reason why. Most of the time, the goals are good on some level, but negative on others. If you are always on a diet, but never losing any weight, then ask what you would be giving up if you lost weight. Weight loss may seem like a good goal, but it could be scary, too. Perhaps it means re-inventing yourself, becoming available for romantic love, or giving up your favorite foods.
Once I identify what it is that I am afraid of losing, I discover a way to keep the aspects of the old behavior that work for me. For example, I enjoy going out to lunch or dinner with friends. Good for my social life, but bad for my weight loss goal. The idea of giving up lunches, dinners, celebrations, and birthday parties was very de-motivating. I found myself saying, “I am supposed to be on a diet, but I really want to go to dinner with friends on Saturday night.” On some deep level, I equated dieting with giving up my social life. As a result, I never lost much weight.
Weight loss became much easier when I promised myself that I wouldn’t give up my social life. Instead of planning social events around my diet, I planned my diet around my activities. My believeing became, “I am going to dinner on Saturday night with friends. What can I order without over-indulging?” When you are fully aligned to a goal, then it is easy to get and stay motivated.