One of the big challenges we all have is how to motivate ourselves to do the things we KNOW we need to do, the things we know will give us more energy if we just did them. How do you stoke the fire, light a flame under your ass, make yourself invest the energy to get something going and follow through?
Here are five ways to get a handle on this:
1. Motivation Starts With Intention
Motivation starts with intention. It’s hard to motivate yourself if you don’t know what you want, and even harder if you don’t remember what you want. Make yourself successful by keeping your focus on what your intention is. If you want to exercise daily, make sure you have several points in your day where you can remind yourself of this.
In “The Miracle Morning” Hal Elrod writes about setting an intention for how you want to wake up the next morning before you go to sleep. This is brilliant. So often we have unconscious scripts we just run about how our days will go–why not overwrite this with an intention for what you do want? If you want to exercise in the morning, don’t surprise morning-you. Plan ahead and think ahead.
2. Make Motivation Easier
When kids are little, you need to make it easy to find their snacks or put away their toys; so easy, that they can’t possibly not do it. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making things difficult. If you want to work out in the morning, don’t make yourself dig your workout clothes out of the closet in the morning while the fan is on and you’re freezing. If you do this, you’re more likely to just skip your workout and go straight to the fleece onesie. Put your workout clothes right next to your bed, including your sneakers.
If you want to write in a gratitude journal at night, put your journal and a pen next to your bed. If you truly intend to write some morning pages in the morning, leave your notebook and a pen next to the coffee machine.
3. Reward Yourself
Treat yourself like a toddler. Reward yourself. Give yourself skittles. Put pretty stickers in your planner when you Do The Thing. I have gold stars I put in my planner whenever I exercise. Brag to someone, like you just ate all your peas and want your damn ice cream now.
It’s usually in the initial stags of doing something, before it becomes a habit, that motivating yourself is difficult. If you can get yourself past this hump by whatever means, you’ll be well on the way to achieving intrinsic motivation. Regardless, you deserve a reward if you’re doing something difficult!
4. Be Kind to Yourself
You’re not trying to control yourself; you’re working with yourself. Sometimes just your attitude can crush any motivation you had to begin with. If you’re telling yourself you should exercise because you’re weak and pathetic, you won’t get anywhere. Instead, remind yourself how you feel better after you exercise. Tell yourself that you only have to do a little and it won’t be too bad. You can amp up as you go along when you feel stronger, then you’re more likely to work out. If you allow yourself small successes instead of setting yourself up for punishment, things will go much better.
5. Tend to Your Basic Needs
Tend to your basic needs. Often we undermine ourselves because our basic needs aren’t being met. This results in a lack mentality that we almost don’t notice we’re having. If we’re so used to running on the hamster wheel and never getting ahead that this attitude can sabotage us in all aspects of our life. If you feel like you’re wanting in something, that feeling is going to come out as a maladaptive self-soothing behavior like skipping your workouts or emotional eating. Treat yourself right, and you may find your energy increases naturally.