From Change Your Story: Three Surprisingly Easy Steps to Increase Motivation in a Strange New World
This pandemic, and the changes it's brought to our lives, seems interminable. Even if you haven't experienced complete life-changing losses such as related to career, school, illness or even death, you're still being impacted by all the changes and dilemmas around you. I find the dilemmas to be the most exhausting. Should I go to the grocery store or order in? What about going to the pool with friends? Will people judge my decisions or will they think I'm judging theirs? All the questions and confusion over what may or may not be safe is mind-boggling. I find that people are feeling more sluggish in their day to day lives regardless of the level of direct impact the virus has had on their health.
It's like we are all a little sick!
But wait, what does this have to do with being motivated as the title states? I think it has everything to do with it. We are told to look at the silver linings and use this time to create something new or develop ourselves in a new way. Well creativity and the motivation to become creative takes energy. If the dilemmas in our lives drain energy what can we do?
Here are a few suggestions for increasing energy for greater motivation that might surprise you:
Step 1 - Expect less: You might not think that would be the first step to increasing motivation, but let's consider this for a minute. When we go through hard times, we need to give ourselves a break. We need to be even gentler with ourselves. Metaphorically speaking, we need to give ourselves some chicken soup. If you pressure yourself when you're feeling bad, you are likely to feel worse which will drain your energy even further. So you can actually improve your motivation while expecting less from yourself. What works for me, is to set one intention for the day beyond the bare minimum that I have to do (such as eat, sleep, maintain reasonable hygiene). Maybe I tell myself that I will do just one paragraph of a blog post. Then you tell yourself that if you get the one small thing completed, you count the entire day as a success. By doing this you have taken the pressure off to achieve but you have actually achieved something. These small things will add up. But you must have integrity with yourself. If you do accomplish the one small thing, you need to block any critical thoughts such as "That wasn't enough."
Step 2 - Fantasize more:
When you have put aside the expectation to accomplish more, you actually may find that you have more energy for being creative. This allows you to create a vision of what you would want to have more of or do more of. My favorite approach to this is what has been called the Miracle Question. It goes something like this:
If I woke up tomorrow and something amazing had happened so that I had plenty of energy and resources,
What would be different about the way I would start my day?
What would be different about the way you spend time in your day?
Who would be the first to notice that this change had occurred?
What would they notice first?
How would they react?
What would that (their reaction) be like for you?
What other things would be different as you go about your day?
Conclude this exercise by noticing that there are some things about your vision that you can probably begin doing right now. Pick one of those things and do it today.
You could also use a similar question to imagine the following: If this pandemic were over, what would I like to see different in my life?
Step 3 - Turn Your Values Into Actions
To turn your values into actual actions, try this exercise (the key is keeping it simple).
Identify your top 5-10 values (you can find a list of values to choose from here.)
Add a verb to each value so you can see what it looks like in action. For example: Show kindness, Seek opportunities for making a difference, Act with mindfulness, Promote health. Multiply happiness. Practice faith. This will guide you in the actions you need to take to feel like you are truly living on purpose.
Come up with at least one plan of action for each statement, that you can do this week, remember to keep it simple)
Example: Seek opportunities to make a difference by offering to cook for my sick neighbor on Tuesday
If you are noticing old narratives such as "I'm not Good Enough" are being kicked up during these confusing times, check out my workbook for finally breaking free from those old beliefs.
Blessings for peace and health, Linda