In a Slump? Here Are Some Ways to Stay Motivated
It’s nearly the middle of June. How are those New Year’s resolutions you set on December 31 coming along?
Hilarious joke, right? The fact of the matter is that each year, no doubt thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of us begin each year thinking that this one is going to be The Best Year Ever. We are going to land that amazing new job, get in the best physical shape that we’ve ever been in, begin a relationship with someone that’ll surely change our life…
And you probably know what happens next.
We may begin on January 1 with the best of intentions, with the excitement that only a new year, a fresh start, can bring, but then something inevitably happens. Our willpower tanks, and it’s like entropy just takes over our lives.
It’s easier to do the same ol’, same ol’ — and much more attractive — than to venture out and try something new. There’s so much work involved with the latter option, whereas with the former, we can continue to just skirt on by, doing what we’ve always done.
Comfort zones are comfort zones for a reason
However, just because life intervened and seemed to waylay your resolutions for the better half of the first part of the year doesn’t mean that all of 2018 has gone to hell. That’s obvious and probably not worth mentioning, except that it is. So many of us go throughout our lives with an all/nothing mentality, suggesting that we’re either doing something at 110% effort or at 0%, like there’s no wiggle room to f*** up in between, recharge, and restart.
Let me be the first to remind you that even if your 2018 hasn’t gotten off to a great start, in terms of the goals, resolutions, motivations, intentions, finally facing the tasks you hate or whatever other self-development concept you’ve coined for yourself, the rest of your year isn’t a wash. Absolutely, without a doubt, you can still go on to accomplish some badass things for the rest of 2018.
Getting fired up yet?
The fact of the matter, however, is that we’re all human. Sometimes our motivation will be at an all-time high, and other times, it’ll tank. It’s constantly waxing and waning, and sometimes doing nothing is a lot easier, and a lot more attractive and compelling, than getting our a** into gear and doing something productive toward realizing our goals.
So how will the second half of your 2018 be different from the first half? Next time you get in a slump — which it’s almost promised that you will (see that note earlier about “we’re all humans and this is inevitable”) — how will you navigate yourself out of that quickly and effortlessly?
Below, I’ll describe some tips and guidelines that’ll help you the next time you find yourself in a slump, when your motivation needs a good kick in the pants. I’ll couch a lot of my suggestions in terms of fitness and health/well-being, because those are the areas with which I’m most familiar, but I think that all my suggestions are easily transferable to other goal realms, such as ones related to self-development, career, or relationships. Try ‘em on for size, and see what you think.
In a slump, my friends? Here are some ways to get and stay motivated for the back half of 2018. They include:
Have a conversation … with yourself
No, really. I’m definitely not talking to myself, you may already be thinking. Hear me out here, though. At one point in your life, your mother probably asked you something along the lines of if you don’t know what you’re lost, how will you know when you’ve found it? Sound familiar? The same goes for your motivation. While on its surface level, it may be an easy answer — I want to work-out regularly, and I haven’t in months — I really implore you to take some time to dig a little more deeply.
Consider interviewing yourself. Some people journal, other people like to type, or really, even if you want to go for a walk and simply record yourself outright talking to yourself, that’s cool, too. What’s most important here is that you ask yourself some questions that get to the root cause about why it is that your motivation has tanked recently. It’ll be when you find out the answers to those why questions that you will be in a position to effectively answer them and — more importantly — rectify your situation. I haven’t worked out in months because I’ve been so busy probably means that you’re not using your time as wisely as you could be.
Upon further reflection, you may find that you actually could get to the gym five mornings a week, provided you get your a** in bed earlier each night instead of binging on Netflix for hours on end. Beat your procrastination. This process of honest, real, and perhaps even brutal introspection can open the floodgates for you, but honestly, I think it’s critical. You know yourself best, so it behooves you to ask yourself all the “hard questions” simply because no one else is going to for you.
Reconsider what got you started in the first place
What was your why then versus now? While you’re still talking to yourself — kidding, but not really — be sure to reflect upon what your why was when you first got started. Maybe you started exercising initially because you felt like you wanted to lose weight. Eventually, perhaps you did — good on you, by the way! — but then once you lost the weight, your motivation to keep showing up dwindled. That’s ok! Our motivation, and our whys, can change over time. In fact, I’d argue that you should expect it to.
Maybe weight loss isn’t a goal anymore, but weight maintenance is, or maybe instead of weight maintenance, you’re interested in participating in physical challenges that awkward and shy 9th grade you never could have imagined doing. Thinking about your reasons for getting going again can help you to navigate the challenges that originate from breaking through the barriers and entropy. Again: this whole “you gotta talk to yourself” piece is super, super important.
Become a systems genius
Once you’ve got the psychological side of the equation figured out, now it’s high time to start playing systems analyst. You know that you’ll eventually get to a state where your motivation will dwindle, and that’s ok — and like I said, normal, even. To be expected.
How are you going to navigate those times when you really feel like quitting again but know in your heart of hearts that you should keep going? This is where your systems analyst expertise will shine.
Figure out a system, or a set of systems, that you can set in place to help inch you toward realizing your goal every single day. For some people, that means exercising at the same time each day or meeting up with friends every morning for the accountability. Some writers swear by writing 5,000 words a day, even if they feel like what they’re producing is garbage.
Maybe for you it’ll mean that you spend one concerted hour, every single day, job searching and honing your resume and LinkedIn profile. Ideally, you want to make systems as fail-proof as possible so that when your motivation is lacking, you will still be able to autopilot and complete your responsibilities and obligations.
I’ve heard many of my runner friends say that they’ve gotten so used to their daily morning run that it’s basically like brushing their teeth now, something that they don’t think about, as much as they just simply do it. That’s what you ultimately want; take the guesswork out of the equation, and put the automaticity in instead.
Commit to it with like-minded individuals
The power of a group is unmatchable. Finally, I can’t implore you enough to get other people in on your action. Whether you’re going to train for your first marathon with some training buddies, share creative space with other writers, or work alongside other job seekers in an open office floorplan, it can be really beneficial to work both with and alongside other people whose goals are similar to you.
There has been so much written about the so-called “power of teamwork” that it’s practically a cliche, but dude. It’s a cliche for a reason. Its power is indisputable. Plus, when you work alongside or with others, you effectively become accountable to them. You’re showing up for them as much as you are showing up for yourself, and this reciprocity can do wonders for both you and your peers. Do yourself a solid, and never go it alone if you don’t have to (and you don’t. Trust me).
I mean, if you want more basic tips to motivate you to live your best life and be the very best version of yourself that you can be, you can always look for cheesy stuff on Pinterest on Instagram. Ultimately, at the end of the day, your motivation is something that’s within your wheelhouse. In that way, it’s kinda like your attitude.
You can’t always control the things that happen to you, but what you can control is how your respond and react: your attitude. Don’t waste your precious mental real estate comparing yourself to your peers, friends, enemies, frenemies, or random people online; as they say in the internet, “you do you, boo.” Your Day 1 might be someone else’s Day 1,000, and you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice by thinking that you don’t measure up to other people’s version of success.
Keep showing up for yourself every single day, even when you don’t want to — hell, I’d argue especially when you don’t want to — and trust in the process. It likely won’t be linear — I think success is more of a recursive process than anything — but it’ll be there.
Make the back half of 2018 more memorable and meaningful than the front half. You won’t regret the blood, sweat, tears, and thousands of decisions both large and small that it took to get there.