This post has taken me the better part of a month to write, ironically. And even still, I’m not quite sure if I know what to say so bear with me. For starters, I certainly don’t know the answer to the question posed in the title.
I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation, because it’s been a challenging little bugger to find over the past few months.
You know those people who seem to be motivated all the damn time? Constantly announcing new projects they’re working on, or half marathons they’re training for, or hitting the gym at 6 am?
Sometimes I feel that way.
And sometimes all I want to do is sleep. Lately it’s been more of the latter. Days when I beat myself up and think, what’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you more motivated?
The truth is, I used to feel a lot more motivated. When I first started my business I felt ready to take on the world, I had more time to dedicate to CTK, and generally felt good everyday. Then all these health challenges came up and I slowly found myself losing steam. Even though my business was growing, I felt less motivated to make things happen. After about six months, my mode of operation was “just get through the week.” And for what? To sleep in on Sunday then start over? There was no end in sight.
When I found out about my Lyme, Thyroid, etc. situation and was put on a strict diet, I actually felt motivated for the first time in awhile. Finally I had some answers, and if I just completed a month of antibiotics, stuck to this diet and passed on the booze I would start feeling better.
And I did! I felt better for the first time in awhile. But after a strict diet, I didn’t lose a single pound of the weight I’d gained while dealing with my thyroid and a leaky gut, and if I had even one meal that wasn’t diet-approved (chicken parm, to be precise) or more than a glass of wine, I felt awful.
So that was disappointing and I began to wonder if this was how I was destined to feel throughout the remainder of my cheese-forbidden life. Cue the decrease in motivation.
Many experts teach that the key to motivation is to just get started and the momentum will come. Which I understand. Yes, the more momentum you have, the more motivation builds and you keep going. I get it.
But what about the actual ‘getting started’ part? What are we supposed to do when we’ve been at it for awhile and our bodies still feel as sluggish as a sloth? I know, a month is not all that long and it was silly to think I’d be magically healed a month into treatment. But it’s still frustrating.
Same goes for any big goal, really. Something like starting a business and coming up short, or dating in New York City.
I’m starting to think that we have to play the long game when it comes to motivation. Maybe we need to come to terms with the fact that things take time and commitment, which is far less appealing than instant gratification of course.
But are there things we can we do to beat resistance and jumpstart the motivation?
Here are a few ideas I’m experimenting with:
Reframe why you started.
I keep coming back to this one. Because motivation is not about willpower. In fact, motivation itself may be a bullshit concept the more I think about it. Instead of trying so hard to motivate myself to stick to an annoying diet so I can stop taking meds, what if I reframed it? I am choosing to nourish myself so that I feel great. I started down this road because I had a goal to feel better, and when I come back to that initial goal (feeling great, not sticking to a diet) I’m re-inspired to keep at it.
Get into alignment.
A lot of this comes down to being in the right mindset. By getting into alignment with what feels good, we can prepare our minds to get started. So I’ve been doing more of the things that help me get into alignment, like meditating before jumping into my email, going to yoga to break up the day, and eating healthy because it makes my bod pod feel great.
Shorten your damn to-do list.
Each Monday morning I write out a list of everything I need to get done for the week. And then each morning I write out what I’m going to work on that particular day. I get real ambitious and list out a bajillion things I’m going to get done and then do like three of those things. By Friday I’ve done approximately 12 tasks out of 85. So lately, I’ve been giving myself a little reality check and listing 3-5 things to get done per day max. The problem, is then I’m left with a bunch of stuff to do over the weekend, so not sure how that’s going to work out yet. I know I’ll never check everything off, but there are a lot of things that do actually need to get done. Any pointers productivity whizzes??
Find the joy.
I love this one. Because have you ever noticed how no one talks about a joyful relationship to food, or work or money? There’s a lot of negative talk, that’s for sure. It’s all diet tips and treadmill sprints. Deadlines and shitty bosses. Debt and savings. But when we find the joy in things we’re handling daily, we can create such a better relationship to them. That’s one of the reasons we started this website. Because we believe there is joy to be found in all this stuff and when we find it, everything just becomes easier. Getting more joyful around food and exercise is actually helping me gain some momentum. I’ve been playing with fun new recipes, and going to an actual yoga class for the experience (vs. doing it on my own in my basement). What does that joy look like for you?
Trust the small steps.
As Dana wrote about the other day, when we want to make improvements we tend to look for grandiose solutions. Radical changes that overhaul our whole lives. But this approach fails most of us (um hi, strict diet for 30 days with 0 lbs lost). And then we’re left feeling depleted and – you guessed it! – unmotivated. So instead of focusing on these massive changes and expecting quick results, I’m going back to the long game approach. Small steps that create a compound effect.
This is all a work in progress. We’ll see where it takes me. I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that this post is now written after about a month of procrastinating on it, so… off to a good start, right? I can’t wait to check this off my to-do list.
By the way, if things are feeling a little overwhelming at the moment, we’ve got one simple sentence to share that can improve multiple areas of your life. Curious? Pop your email in below and we’ll send it over.
If you’re struggling with motivation, I’d love to hear what you’re doing to handle it. Tell me below in the comments!
Photography by Blair Badenhop
Also published on Medium.