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We all go through times when motivation is low. As the dead of winter sets in, the mornings are darker, the days are shorter, and you accept that the winter blues have taken their hold. Your motivation is positively starving.
So, how can you beat the magnetic pull of the couch and the law of averages? Money is a popular motivator, but it can’t be money alone. A healthier body is also a common goal, but why is it important to you in the first place? Success can light a fire under you, but what does success even look and feel like for you?
The true motivator is all of the great things that we can do with the money, the healthier body and the success. What would life be like? What trips would you go on? What great schools would you send your kids to? What beautiful home could you have? What charity or cause could you fund?
If you are feeling unmotivated, you need to have a way to remind yourself why you have goals in the first place. You need intrinsic motivation. The drive within to take daily action towards your goals out of your own interest and enjoyment where the act of doing the behavior is itself the reward.
With intrinsic motivation in mind, here is a simple action plan for getting motivated or re-motivated this winter:
1. Grab a piece of paper, and make a list with the title “WHY?” at the top of it
Write down all the reasons why you want to achieve your current goals. These reasons usually include a lot about other people, so be sure to include a healthy mix of these external motivators as well as your own intrinsic motivators. Examples might be the feeling of accomplishment, feeling proud of yourself, being able to pay for something you otherwise could not, keeping the promise to yourself, etc.
2. Write down each separate reason on index cards
Every day, flip through these cards during your morning coffee, on the train, during your daily journaling session or another time when you can be mindful.
3. Imagine your life if your reasons were fulfilled. This is called creative visualization.
Walk yourself through your day from beginning to end. What would your days be like? Who would you be spending time with? Where would you be? What would you and your family be doing if you were the success you want to be and made the money you want to make?
4. Get clear on what you’re really spending your time on each day and if you really love it
Are you genuinely living a life that feeds your soul? How are your actions adding to or detracting from this dream life? Whether you are or aren’t happily living out your calling, here is an exercise to help pinpoint exactly what is holding you back and causing demotivation.
Exercise: Go through each task and put it in one of three columns entitled:
- 1. Love | 2. Don’t love | 3. Neutral
The list in the “Love” column can be celebrated and, of course, continued. The list in the “Don’t Love” column should be delegated or otherwise offloaded to turn off this energy leak. As for the “Neutral” tasks, decide if you can continue doing them while maintaining a higher level of passion and motivation. If not, delegate those as well.
5. Stop to smell the roses
Nothing can demotivate like never taking a break and edging up against burnout. Apart from enjoying your work, take time to enjoy moments and days when you aren’t working. Schedule a glass of wine after your workday, plan a massage at the end of the week, or go for a weekend walk in the country. These are all ways to celebrate the small successes and re-motivate yourself.
Of course, the best way to begin this entire journey to intrinsic motivation is just to start. Only you can do this for yourself. Follow these five steps, and not only will you beat the winter blues, but you will accomplish goals with more ease and passion than ever before.