Motivation is what drives us to accomplish the things we want or need to do in life. Getting motivated can be easy when we’re faced with something we love to do. But I find that if it’s something I’m really not looking forward to, I keep myself “busy” with other tasks.
When I find myself lacking motivation, chances are my mental and physical energy is unfocused or running low. Getting motivated can be a simple matter of slowing down, recharging my batteries, and focusing my attention on what I need or want to accomplish.
We are human beings so we get into slumps from time to time. Below I offer eight steps that I use to get my body moving and my mind energized and enthusiastic about whatever may lie ahead.
- Meditate. Take a few minutes in the morning to sit in silence, allowing your thoughts to come and go without engaging them. Find that still place inside you, and allow your intuition to rise to the surface. We are engaging thoughts in the mind all day long; even in our sleep! So in this quiet time of “just noticing them” we are giving our minds an incredible rest and giving the body so much more energy! Thinking takes a lot of our energy so view this time as charging your inner battery—connecting to your source of inspiration and motivation.
- Identify your motive. Why do you want or need to accomplish this task? For example, if you want to begin an exercise regimen, mentally list the benefits: better health, stronger body, and so on. Or if you need to do a tedious task at work, the benefits may be clearing your schedule for a larger project or simply receiving a paycheck. If it’s something you don’t like to do, look ahead at the outcome you’ll gain once it’s completed. I do the things “I don’t particularly like” first- it gives me more motivation to get it done and I always feel great after having completed the dreaded task!
- Set smaller goals. If you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead of you, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if you want to write a book, give yourself a smaller goal, such as “write for a half hour today.” Or maybe you need to clean the house. Instead of looking at the whole structure, pick a room or even just a closet and commit yourself to that one area.
- Practice focused attention. It is as simple as, when you are washing the dishes, just wash the dishes. Being mindful of your activities focuses your brainpower and makes your actions more efficient, reducing the amount of energy required to perform a task. This goes for getting motivated as well! Focus all your attention on what it is you want or need to do, and start doing it. I promise you will have accomplished the task in a lot less time! I talk much more about Focused Attention check out The Practice.
- Get enough sleep. When you are tired it’s really hard to get motivated to do anything. You may even want to go home early from work for just about any reason, or forgo your morning walk because you just don’t have enough time. This lack of motivation you’re feeling more often than not signals a lack of sleep. So as I say emphatically in my lectures, give yourself permission to take a quick nap, or take just a couple minutes and “close your eyes” if a nap is not possible, replenishing your energy and giving your mind a much needed break from thoughts. When you feel rested, tedious tasks are less likely to make you sleepy, and just plain resistant to doing them. You will find that tasks get done more efficiently because you’re “managing” your energy.
- Nourish yourself. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast provides your body, including your brain, with the nutrients it needs to function. Hunger and thirst, for me, has a way of manifesting as an inability to concentrate. If you’re not feeling motivated, you may be running on fumes—or caffeine. Try drinking a tall glass of water and eating a piece of fruit before tackling your task.
- Be the Force. Even when you’re not feeling motivated, there is usually some part of you that wants to accomplish something. Keep in mind that an object at rest will stay at rest without an external force acting upon it. You are that force! Once you are in motion, chances are you’ll stay that way until you’ve done what you set out to do.
- Release your expectations. Sometimes we get so caught up in how we want something to turn out that we are afraid to begin. This type of fear can disguise itself as a lack of motivation. Give yourself permission to be imperfect while making an intention to do your best. Knowing you did your best no matter the outcome can often be the best reward.
While you may not be enthused to do everything that life offers you, think of daily tasks, whatever they are, as offerings from the universe—to learn, to grow, to experience, to create, and to accomplish. The benefits might seem insignificant, or they might seem grand. The important thing to remember when faced with something you need or want to do is that it all comes down to making a choice between “Yes, I’ll do that” or “No, I won’t.” In this way, the biggest motivating factor can be that it’s your decision to make