Almost two months have gone by already! Time flies, doesn't it? It feels as though last week we were just reflecting on our past year and planning for the year ahead. Most of us start every new year with a set of goals we are determined to achieve. There may be changes we want to make in our lives, bad habits we want to get rid of , places we want to travel to, activities we want to try, or things we'd like to tick off our bucketlist.
I am just like you. Sometimes I become side-tracked. I let my lazy mind overtake my willpower. I let my mood get in the way of what I ultimately want to achieve. I procrastinate, put things off, and feel even worse later when I try to get things done in such a short period of time. Sometimes life gets in the way and disrupts my good habits. The next thing I know I've fallen back into this hole of laziness, procrastination, and not doing what I know I should be doing. Then I wait for the new year or my birthday to come around in order to get excited about my New Year's Resolutions as if the date is going to make any difference. If you feel like you can relate to this and are starting to feel unmotivated, even though it's only February, read on!
Here are six tips on how you can remain inspired and motivated:
1. Get used to forcing yourself to do things.
This sounds tough, doesn't it? Our mind has muscles. It memorizes patterns. By doing this over and over, you're building your willpower and self-discipline. Forcing yourself to do things that you don't feel like doing (but you know you should be doing) is a habit you can learn.
Every time I don't feel like doing something like going to the gym or abstaining from eating chocolate, I tell myself that if I keep doing it for several weeks, one day it will become a habit. At that point, doing it will become second to nature. The next thing you know, you won't even feel like breaking your good habits anymore.
Let me put this another way: Inside your head, there is Mr. Better Man and Mr. La La Land.
Mr. La La Land will always try to persuade you not to do things that Mr. Better Man know you should do - like exercising, eating healthy, or being productive with work. These two guys don't like each other, and they are in constant competition with one another.
When you don't feel like exercising, remind yourself that if you don't go, it will become even harder to force yourself to go the next day. Why? Because when you follow Mr. La La Land's advice by not going, you're giving Mr. La La Land the permission to control you. You also boost Mr. La La Land's ego and self-esteem by listening to him. Over and over, Mr. La La Land wins and Mr. Better Man becomes the loser.
But if you learn to tell Mr. La La Land that "Hey, I'm going to listen to Mr. Better Man because he knows what's good for me", Mr. La La Land will feel small. He will start to lose his self-worth and self-esteem and eventually he won't have the confidence to tell you what to do anymore. He already knows you will always listen to Mr. Better Man.
Don't let Mr. La La Land win. Nurture Mr. Better Man and he will lead you to the person you've always dreamed of becoming.
2. Seek inspiration -- every day.
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.
No matter how intrinsically driven we are, we can easily lose our motivation if we don't continue to seek it out. Ever since I was a child, I have made it a habit to look for inspiration. The Internet has given us the power to find anything and everything. It is up to you to use that power to your advantage. Because I am a creative person and I feel stuck, bored, and stagnant the moment that I don't feel inspired. To feel alive again, I look for inspiration. I read books, watch videos, read articles, and do things that reflect what and who I aspire to become. I find ways to better myself and find inspiration every day.
If you have lost motivation with exercising, try going to new fitness classes, join a bootcamp, watch fitness videos, or get a personal trainer.
If you have lost motivation with work, see if you can do more challenging tasks. Read articles and watch videos that inspire your creative spark. Meet new people. Go to events.
Everyone is different and you're the only one who knows what suits you the most.
3. Focus on the emotional reward you will get.
When you're on the fence of fear, doubt, laziness, and tiredness, you have to focus on the emotional reward you will get if you just push yourself a little bit more to jump over that fence.
Focus on the feeling you feel after doing something that you know is good for you.
- The feeling of an adrenaline rush.
- The feeling of being fit and healthy.
- The relief you feel after having finished a big project.
- The pride you gain from an accomplishment.
- The confidence you feel after having faced your fear.
Focus on these feel-good moments and remember that achieving that feeling again is just one step from saying "Yes".
4. Track your goals weekly and periodically.
Tracking your goals is crucial. We hold ourselves accountable when we don't achieve our goals. Failing to track our goals is the easiest way to let ourselves fall off track. It is one way that our mind tells ourselves that we do not fully commit to those goals. If we can't even tell our mind to commit to those goals, especially difficult goals, how are we going to accomplish them?
Writing things down is a way to reinforce to our subconscious what we want. Just like the practice of prayer. The more we tell ourselves what we want to achieve, the more likely we are to take action. We're not letting those goals slip through our minds. The subconscious is powerful. The thoughts you say out loud are not as powerful as the thoughts you whisper to yourself. Positive affirmations hold their power. By tracking your goals and telling yourself over and over what you want to achieve, eventually you will overcome your laziness.
One day at a time, you can build a habit. Start with the habit of tracking your goals because tracking your goals is making a commitment to those goals. You cannot achieve difficult goals without making a commitment to yourself and to your subconscious mind.
5. Set a reward for yourself.
Who doesn't like rewards? Rewards can keep us motivated. And if a reward can keep us motivated for 30 days, then we might have successfully changed our habit by then too. Pick a healthy reward for yourself. While a material reward like a new outfit, a vacation, or a massage can be great, an inner reward feels better and is more sustainable.
What is an inner reward? An inner reward is the emotional reward you feel from within. This brings us back to point 3 - focus on the emotional reward. Instead of focusing on rewards such as "if I lose 10 lbs, I'm going to buy a new outfit," focus on the confidence and happiness you'll feel from being fit and healthy. Think about how much more productive you'd become when you feel energized. If you focus on a material reward, you may get excited when you get the reward, but after a while, you will lose your motivation again. The emotional reward is sustaining and it is built from within. Make it a habit to focus on the emotional reward and it will become easier to make real change in your life.
6. Find someone to hold you accountable for your goals.
Instead of tracking your goals yourself, you can ask someone you trust to keep you on track with your goals. This can be a sibling, friend, partner, or even a professional such as a life coach or a personal trainer. They can be your source of motivation, and even better, inspiration. It is important to pick someone you believe in or someone whom you know would not let you fail at achieving your goals. Pick someone whom you know will kick your butt and will push your limit. Most importantly, you need to pick someone who believes in you. The feeling you get when you know that "someone believes in you" can be tremendous. This feeling will help push you forward and restore faith in yourself when you feel like giving up.
Try all of these tips and get yourself back on track with your goals again! Make 2016 your year. :)
Mo is the Founder of The Happiness Planner, a planner designed to help you become happier by mastering the art of positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-development. Mo's vision is to inspire people to live a purposeful and passion-driven life and to find happiness from within.
You can read more blog posts written by Mo on her blog, BrandMentalist.