Ahhh. It’s finally arrived. Springtime. So many of us while sitting at home freezing our a’s off in winter, dreamt of the time when the leaves return, when we could walk out the door without a 20 minute procedure of wrestling with little ones to force mittens, hats, and Antarctic-ready outerwear on their chilly, wee bodies. In winter, we had a whole list of activities/goals that we were going to do when the warm weather finally arrived- things we couldn’t wait to get to.
And now the spring is here. Why are we finding that these things we’ve planned- couldn’t wait to do- are taking their time to come to fruition? We aren’t quite “hitting the ground running” as we thought we would. And then we beat ourselves up for it.
This is a theme now among so many of my clients. I have these things I want to accomplish. I keep failing at doing them. I feel like a failure. I just can’t get motivated.
So, for this post, I want to give you some things to think about on how to find some motivated to set you in action.
Shut off the Self-Defeating Voice
What are some of the things you think to yourself when you “fail” to meet your goals? Ones I hear all the time are things like,
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I’m so lazy.”
“I’ll start fresh on Monday since I have already blown this week”.
“I can’t do anything right”.
“I wish I was as motivated as ___.”
“I’m not good at this”.
“I’m a failure”.
We all have our go-to self-critical statements. And man, are they vicious. Imagine you saying these things to another person (which you would NEVER DO! So, btw, why is it okay to say to yourself?). How do you think the person would feel after hearing these messages about themselves?
Defective, inadequate, defeated, disheartened, stuck, disappointed, depressed, frustrated etc.
Let me ask you this… How motivated do you expect to be when you feel this way?
NOT MOTIVATED AT ALL.
The messages we give to ourselves (aka THOUGHTS), are so incredibly important. They determine how we feel and what we do. When we feel defeated, we do the opposite of what we want which is inaction (or which is eating a tub of ice cream, drinking a bottle of wine, or [insert behaviors that definitely don’t help our cause]).
Get to the heart of the matter
So, what helps when we catch ourselves engaging in negative, self-critical thought, is focusing on the WHY behind what we want to do. Really think about the answers to these questions:
Why do we truly want to achieve this goal? What’s at the heart of it? How will we feel when we get there? How will we feel when we even just take one step forward towards making the dream a reality? How will accomplishing this affect our life?
Focus on THAT.
Sometimes, once we get those answers, it’s very easy to revert back to the whole “but, it feels like I’m never going to get there” thing. Stop yourself. Get back to the heart of it. And read on.
Find an accountability buddy
It can be tremendously powerful to have a friend who also wants to accomplish a goal (which should be all of your friends, by the way) and is willing to partner up with you. You don’t have to be working towards the same thing, just both be aiming for something that is taking a little work to stick to. Develop a plan and communicate to hold one another accountable for taking small steps.
Set yourself up for success
You may have a lofty goal that is going to take a lot of work to accomplish or a smaller goal that just requires getting started and a little consistency. Either way, we need to break down the goal into steps. Something nearly all of my clients are familiar with is my philosophy that in order to get in motion, we have to:
Set yourself up to succeed.
What do I mean by this? In order to gain momentum and turn a “have to” into a “want to”, we have to feel like we are winning. Even just a little. Like I mentioned before, when we are consistently not meeting our goals, we aren’t motivated. We feel beat up.
Many times, the problem lies in the goals themselves (when I say goals here I mean the action steps towards accomplishing your ultimate goal). Nine times out of ten, we are setting our expectations too high- and consequently setting ourselves up to fail.
I’m not saying don’t aim for the stars. AIM for those bad boys. But when it’s the “getting started” thing that we are struggling with, we often need to tweak our steps to allow ourselves some wins.
Let’s use an example:
Let’s say your ultimate goal is to lose 20 pounds by September.
The goals (steps) you set are: to work out four times a week by running 3 miles on Monday and Wednesday and doing a 60 minute workout videos on Thursday and Saturday.
But then you struggle getting started on Monday and then you find that the whole week is shot. Why? Because you feel defeated. Like you’ve failed even before you started.
These workout goals might be totally doable for you down the road, but when you are looking to get into a new routine, this seems like a little much to start.
Let’s set you up to succeed.
I encourage my clients to make action steps that are REALLY small and flexible to start. For some, it feels really weird and certainly “not good enough”. Work through that. Stick with me.
In the example, this might mean to do one workout in the week on whatever day they feel like it. Maybe they’ll go on an hour walk. Or maybe they’ll do one 30 minute workout video. But that is it.
Just make sure your action steps are specific, measurable, and time-limited.
With these steps, the easier the better. Why? Because the chances that they’ll actually achieve these mini-goals are much better. And then they scored a win. And a win means everything.
Compare how you feel with a win vs a week of inaction.
Set your goals small and slowly work your way up. You’ll feel the momentum and the behaviors you want will be much more likely here to stay.
Celebrate every win
I don’t care how you do this. It could be just by telling your accountability buddy that you accomplished your goal (as long as they’ll do a little cheering for you). Maybe it’s buying yourself a pedicure. Or allowing yourself to watch a movie while your kids are napping (god forbid!). Give yourself a little credit for doing EXACTLY what you said you would do. You are busy. You are human. You deserve success.