We’ve all been there. We feel good about something in our lives or about the place we’re in. We keep it up for a period of time, but eventually, all good things come to an end, right? Life gets in the way, seasons change, life transition happens, vacations and holidays throw wrenches into even our best efforts at anything and everything. Whether it’s eating healthy, exercising regularly, maintaining a new skill or hobby, having a positive outlook, or even just feeling good about our mental health, the trend of the universe is that there will always be ebbs and flows. We can run into some significant problems when the ebb has overpowered the flow and we just can’t seem to find the motivation to get back into our grove.
This was obviously a very personal struggle for me as you may have noticed that there has not been a blog post since January of 2016… and for all you loyal readers, I deeply apologize. Life definitely got in the way for me. Significant life transitions, two changing seasons, and one long vacation all pushed me into a bad habit of not keeping up with my obligations! Getting my motivation back was a challenge in some ways, but also an opportunity to practice pushing myself. The reality is that this was not the first, and won’t be the last time, I will have to push myself back into good habits. As a result, I’ve researched a plan to help you find your own motivation again.
Going back to the original purpose for your motivation is huge. It can be challenging to maintain a level of energy or dedication to a particular goal, but reminding yourself regularly of your initial purpose is vital. This is also a good opportunity to reassess your goals. Is your motivation lacking because your goals, or the steps to achieving those goals, are no longer realistic? If that’s the case, it’s ok! Reassessing and establishing more appropriate short-term and long-term goals can be pivotal to regaining your motivation. This can mean the difference between feeling like you are fighting an uphill battle versus walking on level ground again.
The second key point to remember is that motivation is a process that does not have an endpoint. You’ve probably noticed that those things you are struggling the most to maintain are probably things that should be lifelong habits, such as a healthy diet and exercise, incorporating self-care into your routine, and managing your mental health overall. Although it sounds corny, remembering that maintaining your motivation for healthy habits is a journey with no real and finite destination, may actually make the process easier. Set the bar low and start with a mini-goal, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Accomplishing even the simplest of things can feel like a huge boost and there’s only upward movement from there. If you can remind yourself that you have the time and ability to take this at your own pace, you might actually notice a decrease in the pressure you’re putting on yourself and possibly a boost in energy.
The last BIG thing to consider when working to find your motivation again is that emotionally it will be difficult and at times, possibly very difficult. You may have noticed that through your struggle to regain motivation you have talked yourself into and explained to yourself multiple times, why you need to do this or why it’s important. However, you still probably are stuck in the same place that you have been. This is because our emotions are very powerful and often beat out our logical thought process. Very frequently negative emotions help us to justify a variety of excuses to ourselves and continue the negative cycle. So, what to do about it? Notice the negative thoughts and feelings you are having about your particular goal. Ask yourself, “Is this thought or feeling helpful to me or hurtful?” The answer is probably going to be hurtful, so instead find something to say to yourself that is more accurate to the situation and will encourage you in an honest way. Please take note that the important word there is honest. If your thought is too over-the-top positive, you probably won’t listen to yourself. For example, if your original thought is, “I’m too tired to go for a run tonight tonight, I don’t want to,” you might have better emotional luck changing that thought to, “I know I’m tired tonight, but if I go for a run I only have to run half the distance and can walk the other half.” Emotionally this might feel more sustainable and at least you are still being active. Finding the middle ground to help you feel better is always more productive than living in one of the two extremes.
I’m not saying that finding your motivation again is easy or that you will be successful on your first attempt. I’m saying that finding your motivation is important and should not be something that you give up on, you deserve to live a high quality of life. Sometimes just a little bit of readjustment is all that is needed to increase your own dedication to yourself.
Authored by: Kaitlan Gibbons, PsyD