Low motivation is something we all deal with from time to time (we’re all human, after all), whether it's about work, eating healthily, exercising or a new habit we're trying to make routine.
If you're feeling unmotivated, here are four simple things you can do today to help shift your mindset and kickstart yourself into action.
Quick ways to motivate yourself
Do just 3 things
Most of us expect FAR too much of ourselves. The endless to do list that hangs over us day after day can be overwhelming at the best of times.
Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself or too many goals leads to overwhelm, and inaction – perpetuating the cycle of feeling guilty and unmotivated.
Look at your to do list and pick out three things you could do today to make the biggest difference (either for your wellbeing or to move you further toward your work or personal goal) and focus on getting just those three things done. Anything else is a bonus!
Once you have your list of three, ask yourself: on a scale of 1-10, how confident am I that I can get these things done?
If you’re lower than a 9, make your actions smaller and easier – setting tiny goals and achieving them is how we build momentum.
For example, let's say you’re stuck on a work project that feels large and unwieldy, and you’re not sure how to get started. Ask yourself: what is one small step I could take today to get going? Perhaps its spending 15 minutes brainstorming a plan, or getting in contact with one person to support you with the project.
You‘ll likely find that after you’ve finished your three tasks, you feel motivated to tick a few more things off the list too.
Boost confidence with a power pose
Did you know that how you hold yourself actually changes your internal body chemistry and how you feel? Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, talked about the significance of body language and power postures in her 2012 Ted Talk.
Taking up more space and holding a pose that we associate with being powerful and authoritative for just two minutes has been shown to change our hormonal balance.
Power poses increase our levels of testosterone (associated with confidence), and lower cortisol levels (associated with stress). This puts us in a more confident state of mind, increasing our motivation to take action.
Try it for yourself right now and see how you feel.
You could hold your arms in the air like you’ve won a race, mimic Superman with your fists on your hips and chest held high, or lean back in a chair with your hands behind your head as if you’re super relaxed. Choose a posture that allows you to take up a lot of space and that feels expansive.
This is a great trick if you need a quick boost of confidence before a talk or important meeting. Just find somewhere private to hold your chosen power pose for a few minutes and feel the difference it makes.
Take a walk
If you’re struggling to focus on something, get outside for a brisk walk.
Getting outside in nature, having a change of scene and breathing fresh air can do wonders for our state of mind. It’s actually been shown to improve brain function, which helps us to feel more focused.
The physical act of movement on a brisk walk will also trigger endorphins that increase your energy levels and focus, helping you to tackle that tricky work task you’ve been avoiding when you get back home.
Celebrate the small wins
At the end of today, write down one to three things you’ve done that you can celebrate. However small they are, writing them down can be a powerful act for improving your mindset and motivation.
That’s because recognising an achievement, however tiny, activates the reward circuitry in our brain, and the feel-good chemicals that are released improve our desire to keep going.
If you washed your face, made a phone call you’ve been dreading, or ate an extra piece of fruit today – well done! It all adds up.
Encouraging positive self-talk is like building a muscle. The more that you can reinforce this behaviour by making a regular habit of writing down your achievements, the easier you will find it to recognise your small wins throughout the day.
Try keeping a success diary, writing down your achievements every day for a week, and see how it impacts your mood.
Conclusion: Find out what drives you
Motivation can ebb and flow, and using these little actions consistently can help kickstart you where you're feeling stuck.
If there's something you're finding particularly challenging to get motivated about but it's a goal that feels important to you, it can be invaluable to dig into your core motivation. Ask yourself 'Why is this goal or habit important to me?' and write down your answer.
When you have your answer, ask yourself again, 'And why is that important to me?'
Keep asking yourself 'Why?' a few more times until you get down to the core of what your motivation actually is - most often it's not the surface reasons we tell ourselves at all.
Taking some time for this self reflective activity can uncover powerful unconscious drivers you're not even aware of. It may also help you uncover any related barriers or fears that are holding you back. Write down your findings and put it up somewhere you see everyday, to keep your core motivation front of mind.
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