#Project2016 | 7 Motivation Hacks That Work to Get You Going

Thursday 14 January 2016

If you're anything like me, motivation can be an absolute bitch, even when you clearly have a goal in sight.

What is this elusive thing called willpower, and where do we find it? How can we make ourselves take the steps we know we need to take in order to achieve something? Wherefore art thou, motivation?

So far, we've talked about why New Year's Resolutions don't work, and how to set goals that stick. So now I'd like to look at how to get moving on a plan when your spark is gone.

January is the most evil of months. Cold, wet, depressing. Most of us are watching our spending and our food intake. It seems so joyless and hard to get going.

I must admit that, although I know exactly what I want to achieve in 2016 - and exactly how to get there - and I feel like I really want the change, I'm still struggling to make a move.

I've been feeling low and wintery, stuck inside in the fug of baby care, mooching around in leggings and huge cardigans, a little bit low-key ill with a cold that just won't budge, and making a change seems like this very remote thing, an impossible, far off mountain eternally out of reach.

Even little things, like cleaning out my sock drawer and things I love, like this blog, have begun to seem like chores. I feel like I'm hibernating, with energy at an all time low.

How do we break through the fog of inaction and start moving towards our goals?

Face Your Fears

What are you really so afraid of? Sometimes the things holding us back aren't actually visible on the surface - they're like some kind of demotivation iceberg, looming around in the depths of our minds.

So it can be very helpful to literally write down what they are. Shine a light on those dark fears, list out all the things that little voice in the back of your head is whispering at you.

The process of bringing them out into the open is important, because it takes away from their power. With each one written down, you can look at it rationally, use logic to overcome unspoken objections, and make a plan to guard against failure.

Let go of 'Perfect'

Now I spend a LOT of time and energy on the idea of 'perfect'. I think we all do. Whole industries exist on the back of it, after all.

Have you ever fixed on the 'perfect' body/hair/shoe closet/lipstick collection? Well, there are plenty of multi-million pound companies banking on making you believe its real. Little secret? Its NOT.

Shocking, I know. I'm as hooked on it as anyone. But only by acknowledging that perfect does not exist, that all we have is the here and now, in all its flawed, brilliant glory, can you get motivated.

If you're like me, frequently you use 'perfect' as a form of inaction. I need to wait for the perfect time to do this. I'll never get to be perfect, why even try? If that sounds familiar, you'll know what I'm talking about. If all the time and energy goes into a myth of perfection, what's left for real life?

So mentally scrap that idea and give yourself permission to let go of it, and get on with living. Mistakes are just fine - in fact, they're valuable. Say it slowly with me, because I know its hard - Perfect. Doesn't. Exist. And that's okay.

Join In

One great motivation for anything is to include other people. When you join in, everything becomes real and that comes with its own type of accountability. You are more likely to succeed when you involve others, so why not stack the deck in your favour?

Find a group or a way to communicate. Want to save up to go travelling? Join a forum for money saving advice. Want to get into running? Join a club.

Get your friends and family involved in what you're tying to achieve. Motivation is more infectious than the flu, and joining in, even in a small way, will work in your favour.

Know what success is

Perhaps you've started this journey with a vague idea of what you want to achieve. In order to get motivated if you're struggling, you have to hone in on what your particular idea of success is.

Because it will be different for everyone, and it only becomes real if its personal.

Pin down what success looks like for you, and be very specific. Spend time thinking it into reality.
Make it as real as it can be in your own mind. Only when you know exactly what it is will you want it enough to push yourself.

Take a small step

Its obvious that I'm one of life's planners. I love to dream up how's and why's. But I'm not so good at the follow-through a lot of the time. I get so caught up in the vision of how it could be, that I forget to actually begin.

And that's where I'm at with my goals right now. I know I want them, I know what they look like, but I'm mired in inactivity.

So, take a step. Be it ever so small, just take a step. Anything is better than nothing. Figure out what a baby step could be for you, and don't think about it. Just do it. Be mindless about it. Allow yourself the luxury of not thinking about why's and if's and all the rest. And before you know it, you'll be doing it and not looking back.

Decide on a reward

If you're set on all the negatives, spin it around by planning in the upside. What are you going to do to reward yourself?

With things that involve some degree of sacrifice or control, the reward for all these little denials and hard choices can just be too distant. I'm not great at long term thinking, because I live in the moment. Delayed gratification doesn't work for me, if I'm honest, however much I wish it did.

If that's you too, then plan in little milestone treats and rewards to make it work. Then you can forget about the far off reward and just focus on the one at the end of the week, which is much easier!

Set a deadline

Another thing to get yourself going is create a deadline. This is something most of us deal with at school, uni or work. And yet we just seem to forget about building a timeline into things we are trying to achieve.

Don't make the deadline arbitrary. Link it to something real - an event that will happen to you, in your real life. Who will you be accountable to if you don't make it by this time?

As much as the 'carrot' is a nicer approach, if you're anything like me, you need a bit of 'stick' as well to really get you moving!

Form a habit

Habits make life easy. Because we do them without even thinking, it removes the mental resistance. We become mindless about them - we don't question how or why we do them. This saves your eneergy for trickier challenges. So you want to make the change you need to see an unquestioned habit, as natural as putting the kettle on when you come in, or brushing your teeth at night.

It takes time to hard wire change. Habits are responses to needs, when it comes down to it. Something becomes a habit because it makes our lives easier, happier, more comfortable in some way.

So, if you're wanting to stop over-eating, but that eating is giving you comfort and joy, then attempting to change the eating habit without replacing the emotional support it gives you is doomed to fail. Find something else that gives you that shortcut to happiness. Working out what that is can be tough, but if you find it, you'll have cracked the hardest part.

Identify harmless behaviours that give you joy and jump all over them. Then get to work on creating some new, positive habits instead.  Find out more about forming a habit in this great article.

Those are my answers to the inertia swamp. I'll be trying them out and reporting back, to see if I can beat this once and for all. Do you know any motivation hacks that are tried and tested? Please share them below!

1 comment

  1. This is such a helpful post! I think so many people try to change something without thinking about how how each of the steps they need to take to achieve it will impact them throughout their every day lives. It's definitely helpful to work at little bits & to move forward rather than waiting for the perfect time. There really never is such a time! Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks