Can’t Get Motivated? Give these 5 Things a Try!
I love goal setting. There is such a great feeling that comes with writing out a list of all the ways that I can improve my life. But here’s the thing, that list is a lot easier to write than actually follow. Umm…New Year’s goals, anyone? Truthfully, staying motivated is a huge issue. Do you ever feel the same way? You start out strong, eventually losing steam and giving up completely? Believe me, it happens to all of us.
So what can you do? Well, here are five suggestions that help me stay motivated.
1. Take It Slow, One Thing At a Time
I’m always tempted to bite off more than I can chew. If I’m going to overhaul my life, I might as well nitpick and change everything. Or if I’m going to set a workout goal, I might as well aim for looking like the toned women I see in the magazines. I tend to set my sights to big and, inevitably, I fail. Why? Because, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and the perfect life and body weren’t either. So if you find yourself in the same situation, get picky. Instead of trying to make all the changes happen overnight, chose the most important and work on it until it becomes a habit.
If sipping enough water is a problem, start there and keep working toward your glasses-a-day goal. When sipping the water has become second nature, think about focusing on the next habit. You will be more likely to reach your goals if you aren’t distracted by all the plates you are trying to juggle and change. You have too many other things in your life to worry about; trying to change all of your bad habits at once will only lead to frustration and the temptation to give up on them all. You certainly don’t want to do that. Pick one goal, make a game plan, and give it your full attention. Before you know it, you will be checking that goal off the list and feeling great about how much of a difference it’s made in your life.
2. Phone a Friend
My mom lives near a lake and set herself the goal of walking it every week, which is several miles round-trip. That’s an intimidating goal which would be easy to find an excuse to avoid if she was walking it by herself. But she is smart and enlists a friend to walk with her. Even if the clouds are threatening rain, she and her friend make sure to get out and walk the lake to make their goal. She understands that to reach a goal sometimes you need someone else to inspire you and light a fire under you when you just don’t feel like doing it.
Find a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, a spouse, anyone who is just as motivated to reach the same goals as you are (you certainly don’t want to enlist someone who you have to keep poking and prodding along). Waking up early for a workout is a bit more important when someone is depending on you to show up, too. A friend is a great way to motivate you and keep pushing you to go a little further. Accountability can sometimes be the best motivation to keep going forward when it doesn’t seem like results are coming as fast as you like. But don’t give up and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone to be your motivational buddy.
3. Get Rid of Distractions
What distracts you from your goals? Is it your phone? Is it the tv? Is it the junk food in the cupboard? If something distracts you, get rid of it. Here’s the thing, if someone said that licking cactuses was a bad habit that she wished she could overcome (weird, but anyway), you would probably tell her to get rid of the cactus that she has sitting on her kitchen table, right? It seems obvious that if something is your stumbling block, but yet you let it stay ever present right within reach, you would probably keep succumbing to its temptations.
Ok, the cactus is a weird example, but you do the same thing, admit it. You like junk food, it’s your kryptonite, and yet you aren’t willing to get it out of the house. Hiding it in the back of the cupboard doesn’t count. You still know it’s there. You know you should’t eat it, but the temptation is too close to home. The same with every other bad habit. You can’t expect yourself to be a superhuman who one day says “NO” and suddenly those bad habits can’t touch you ever again, like they never existed in the first place. Temptations will always surround you, but if you can, get rid of the distractions. You’ll be more likely to say ‘no’ if it isn’t actually an option.
4. Reward Yourself
So if you have to get rid of the distractions does that mean you can’t ever have it again. No, I am a firm believer in the reward system. A treat is a good thing…when it is a celebration of the good work you’ve been doing! Rewards can be a huge motivation for hitting goals.
When I was little my family set up a reading reward system. They wanted to encourage us to read (which I loved, but later learned this was more for my brother who wasn’t much of a reader). If we read a certain amount of chapters, there would be a prize. And it worked! Even if it’s a fun outing, rewards are still a great way to inspire that kid in us all. We all want to spoil ourselves. Want that new hat you’ve been eyeing at the store? Use it as a reward for reaching a goal.
My great aunt, who is an amazing ball of energy, has often set up walking goals. She picks a place on the map, figures out how many miles it would take to walk there, and then sets the goal of walking that much on her own and when she reaches the goal, she can visit that place on the map. Rewards can be big or small, whatever it takes to keep you motivated. That doesn’t mean that rewards should be devouring an entire chocolate cake. But finding ways to encourage yourself to go a little further and push a little more is always a good thing.
Let me just say this now, you will “fail”.
5. Pick Yourself Back Up
Does a cheat day ever lead you down a spiral? You gave into the cookies, there goes the diet, so you might as well enjoy all of it? Believe me, the guilt you feel after one cookie won’t be anything compared to the guilt you’ll feel after a whole night of bingeing. But guilt isn’t a healthy motivator. Looking at your goals with positivity will always produce better results than those done under negative emotions.
Let me just say this now, you will “fail”. And you will probably fail many times before you reach your goals. You want to eat well, but that birthday cake at the office just looked too good to forgo. We all stumble. There is no reason to beat yourself up about it. Just pick yourself back up and keep going. If you expect perfection, well just remember you’re only human. Every goal takes work and commitment. We all cheat on our diet and we all give in to our bad habits from time to time. Just tell yourself that you didn’t fail, just stumbled, and you’ll do better next time. Keep motivated by remembering that stumbling along the path is better than not going down the path at all.
Staying motivated isn’t easy. Setting goals is fun, keeping them is a challenge. But finding ways to keep motivated could be the key to reaching those goals that you’ve set for your life. We all want to feel and look our best. So don’t give up and don’t give in.
But if you do, don’t forget that you can always start again.
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