Recently i’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to feel motivated. What drives me to jump out of bed in the morning, energises me to workout or inspires me to write? A big part of me felt that the change in season might have been a catalyst to feeling a surge in energy, but I’m not sure that makes quite sense since Autumn brings the dying of summer, colder mornings and darker nights. Wouldn’t that make me want to hibernate?
I’ve been more motivated than ever. After a bit of a slump and de-motivated spell I’m finally getting my drive back, and whilst I’m on this Lianne 2.0 kick I wanted to share my thoughts about the little things that helped me to get my mojo back.
First lets talk about the one bad habit that dwindled my drive in the first place.
I was stuck in a cycle of procrastination. I was spending time thinking or talking about things I wanted to do. Making plans that never came to fruition. It dawned on me. I was talking about things but not necessarily doing them. I pride myself on being a go getter type of person, but I was letting it slip. I get frustrated when people don’t follow through on their word, so in fear of becoming that person, I booked the aerial yoga class that I’d spent months talking about. You might have read my summer to do list – I had aerial yoga on there. I also booked a Thai boxing class, found a yoga studio and signed up to Spanish classes.
How do we get into a cycle of procrastination?
A lot of it comes down to waiting to feel motivated to take action. Scientifically, you cannot actually feel motivation, since it’s a state of being and not a feeling. You don’t need to feel motivated to actually be motivated. Read that sentence again when you next say ‘ I don’t feel like it’. 😉
There lies the problem, waiting and feeling, giving rise to hesitation.
Psychologically speaking, hesitation is powerful because it leads to inaction and procrastination. Which is easy. The waiting, feeling and the not doing. It’s a comfortable state. If you hesitate for one second you are more likely to talk yourself out of it. You might talk about doing it another time, maybe even plan to do so, but you’re more than likely to take the easy road of inaction. Psychologically you’ve already learned to procrastinate, and learned behaviours are more likely to be repeated. Hesitating on the seemingly small stuff transforms into everyday habits… bad habits.
Benefits of doing
The hardest part about taking action is starting. But once you do get over the hurdle it gets easier. The more you repeat the action the easier it becomes and your motivation will eventually follow.
With that so do the benefits. Research shows (e.g. this study) that motivated people have higher dopamine levels than less motivated people. At it’s most basic level dopamine is the pleasure seeking pathway in the brain linked to motivation and reward, which drives you to take action. Simply put, the more you do, the more rewarded you feel; the more rewarded you feel, the more you do. Thus, more motivation, more action and more motivation and more action. This is how a habit forms.
Simple tips to get started
If you want to start to boost your drive I have a few simple tips:
1. Start small.
You don’t have to jump in at the deep end and it’s likely to deter you completely. If your goal is to fitness related, start with baby steps to build a solid foundation. Start with a weekly beginners fitness class, a short weekly run, or even aim to take the stairs! It doesn’t have to be all singing, all dancing, jumping, squatting and heavy weight lifting at the start. Remind yourself that life is a marathon and not a sprint – the path is upwards and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there 🙂
2. Give yourself a compromise free deadline.
Trick your brain out of overthinking and talking yourself out of doing something. Give yourself a countdown to take action. When I wanted to get into a routine of getting up 6am, I would count down from 5, and on 1 I would get out of bed. 5,4,3,2,1 UP. No snoozing. It was painful at first but soon became a habit. The 5 Second Rule really does work. I highly recommend this book if you want some easy tips to kick start action!
3. Question yourself.
I found that these three questions were powerful: (1) Why do I want to do it? (2) Why haven’t I prioritised time for it? If I was ‘too busy’ then (3) Do I truly want it?
For me these questions helped to prioritise the activities I truly valued and made me carve time, as well as cross activities off my list that I simply didn’t value as much. I also found they helped me to question bad habits too.
These tips might seem simple but they worked for me. I hope they will invigorate you and give you a push into action. Or at least to get you out of a rabbit hole of over-talking and overthinking .
Remember that action always comes first and hesitation impacts everything!