I got this question from a friend, “How do you stay motivated during these tough times?” and it kind of stumped me. I really had to think about it, because if I am being completely honest during this time there are more days that I feel UNmotivated than motivated.
Like many of us, I am not immune to the fears and frustrations that this pandemic has brought upon us. It feels like one day I am mad, the next sad, then scared, then in a fog, I see a little sliver of hope or sunshine, and then I am back in my loop. I am not telling you this to feel bad for me because I do not have it bad at all. So many out there have it so much worse than me, and I pray for them every day. I am telling you this because it’s the truth, and everything going on has knocked me off my course a bit.
As you can imagine, when I got this question, I was a little at a loss because I am not feeling like a rockstar. When I think of the very word, motivated, I see fireworks, I feel a fire in my belly with the greatest showman playing in the background. I see myself ready to take on the world, and that’s just not me right now. I am not feeling like that peppy energetic girl that I typically am.
Then I stopped to think about the question, “how am I motivating myself every day?” and I had to get honest with myself because I want to be really honest with you. So I decided to re-arrange the question so I am answering it more honestly. Instead of “how am I motivating myself every day” I am going to switch it to “how am I moving forward every day.”
If I look at my week by week, day by day, hour by hour I am just trying to move forward. Trying to get one step closer to the next best thing.
Typically I am a go-getter, non-stop, on fire, ready to jump from one thing to the next type of person. Walking, talking, and moving quickly so that I can get it all in and get it all done. My to-do lists are long, and my “ideas list” is even longer. I am (almost) always pretty motivated because I am following this path I created for myself to get to the ultimate goal.
Right now I still have that ultimate goal, I just got pushed off my path, I’m a little lost, and I am not entirely sure how I will find it again. With everything happening in the world that we are living in, it’s hard to get super motivated and jazzed up about our current situation. So I just focus on moving forward, taking it one day at a time.
To answer my edited version of the question, “How am I moving forward every day?” This is exactly what I am doing.
Shifting my expectations
I typically have very high expectations for myself. But with everything going on I have recently shifted the expectations and goals I give myself on a day to day basis.
I want to make sure I am constantly giving myself positive reinforcement and not getting too hard on myself. I am typically one to think I am never doing enough, so I am trying to change that thought process and give myself some grace. Reminding myself that something is better than nothing because it’s at least taking one step forward in the right direction.
These past few months, I will give myself 1 or 2 “work goals” for the day, and 1 personal goal. For example, my work goal may be to get through a list of companies to reach out to, and my personal goal is to hit 11,000 steps. On a typical day, I wouldn’t even consider those as “goals”. But right now that is enough, that’s a big win. When I shift my expectations for myself I am not so hard on myself and then I feel satisfied, and I am happy that I just did something to move forward.
Keeping my normal routines.
Even though I am much slower than I usually am with work, and don’t have to keep my typical routine, I still do it. Waking up early, writing, working out, showering, and getting to bed early are what keep me on track and going. Even on days I don’t want to wake up, I still do, because it’s a habit now.
If I am showered and ready by 8:30 am I am more likely to complete and hit the small goals that I set for myself. It’s all about moving forward for me. These routines and habits I have already established, help me move forward when there was a lot to do, and it will do the same when there isn’t.
Ingesting positive content, books, songs, podcasts, movies, etc.
I tend to absorb the feelings and messages that I listen to or read in an article, podcast, song, book, or movie. If the book is scary, I get scared. If the podcast is inspiring and uplifting, I feel hopeful. I know this about myself, so during tough times, I have to be very mindful of the content I am ingesting. I try to keep it positive, inspirational, and light-hearted so that I feel those feelings. When I feel good, I am more likely to move forward and try, rather than sulk and become one with the couch.
Right now I am listening to a lot of “Abraham Hicks” podcasts, and the “Hot Country” playlist on Spotify. Reading all of Gabby Bernstein’s books (right now I am rereading her most recent Super Attractor book), and fiction books with happy endings. Watching empowering documentaries like Becoming, or rewatching “The Office” for the millionth time.
Some days when I will think to myself, “What is the point of even trying right now?” or “This doesn’t look good”. When I catch myself thinking these thoughts I try to replace it with a more positive one. A positive affirmation that I will repeat over and over again until I believe it. Mine include, “This too shall pass”, “Lots of great work is on the way”, “I trust that I am being guided and things will work out”, “I can do this”, “It’s going to be okay, it always ends up okay”, “Just keep going”.
Feel free to take some if they feel right, or makeup one that is better suited for you. I find this helps to keep me moving forward in attempts to keep my hopes up and my mind on the positive track.
Remembering the ultimate goals.
Even though things are changing and we don’t know when or how it will end, it doesn’t mean that your goals and dreams have to change or end. It’s important to remember that.
For us achievers, this time is particularly hard because a lot of the plans we had for our goals went up in flames. Or at the very least, there is a lot more uncertainty around how or when you will achieve them.
Since I am such a planner that threw me into a tizzy. I was trying to predict, control, and plan the outcome and I can’t. I felt listless and then disappointed because I thought I wouldn’t reach the ultimate goal. But I was so wrong.
The goal is still there. It doesn’t go away just because our world is in a pandemic. Even if you can’t possibly imagine how it will all work out for you in the end, it will. It just might not be today or exactly as you dreamed it up to be, but it’s still your dream and it’s still worth fighting for. It still matters.
Every morning I write in my Start Today Journal the 10 Dreams I have that I will turn into a reality. This daily practice helps me remember why I am moving forward, and why I continue to try again every day.
Right now it’s a really easy time to sit and do nothing, let the time pass you by, hideaway in fear or just be upset or angry. Those emotions are all normal and are going to continue to come up for all of us.
What is most important for all of us right now, is to give yourself some grace. You do not need to know all the answers. You do not need to do everything perfectly. You don’t even need to feel motivated. You just need to keep moving forward.
It doesn’t have to be a motivated sprint or even a walk, it can be a crawl. Because doing something to move forward, is better than doing nothing. And right now something is enough for me because something means that I am not giving up, and we can’t give up on our dreams, and we can’t lose hope.
It will all come back in time, and we have to practice patience, acceptance, and forgiveness in the meantime.
One step at a time my friend, you will still get there.