When You Just Can’t Get Motivated

4 Tips to help you surf those motivation waves

Motivation is elusive.  It is a finite resource that can come and go like the wind. Some days making protein smoothies and eating super clean feels effortless, and other days well, chocolate becomes a major food group.  We’ve all been there!

Motivation is a very energy dependent system and it fluctuates based on how you feel both physically and emotionally.  If you visualize those ups and downs as wave-like you can learn to ride those waves like a pro without repeatedly crashing into troughs of despair.

“Just do it” isn’t enough

If you struggle with staying motivated, don’t beat yourself up.  Consider this fact: humans are hard-wired to stay within their comfort zone.  Without much conscious thinking, we set up our environment to keep us there: the people we surround ourselves with and the environments we place ourselves in establish the triggers that influence our behaviors, whether conscious or unconscious.  

When a large part of your life is run on autopilot (which saves us a lot of energy), it takes great effort, intention, and repetition to bring unconscious behavior to awareness and to consciously choose a different behavior over and over again.  Remember, your life is perfectly designed right now to keep you exactly where you are.

Tip #1: Develop the skills you need to sustain good habits

When was the last time you tried to “just do it?”  Unless you already had the skill and ability to accomplish your feat, we’re gonna guess it was hard to sustain.  Why? The initial surge of motivation that gets you out the door at 5 am to boot camp might mask the fact that you haven’t worked out in months or years and your body isn’t ready for it.  Or perhaps the new diet you are trying to follow requires more time in the kitchen or different cooking skills than you currently have.

Skills and abilities are the foundation of any healthy habit.  Without them, it is too easy to slide back into your comfort zone and feel like you failed yet again.

Tip #2: Find or create opportunities to trigger good habits

When you’re building new habits you are by definition changing a routine.  To make a new routine work, you need to make time for it, yes, but you also need to set up triggers to prompt you to take the desired action. Triggers can be based on time, location, emotions, preceding events, or other people.

Here are some examples:

Time: lunchtime walks, going to the gym before or after work, putting something in ink on your calendar that you can commit to.

Place: Do you always follow the same path in the grocery store or go to the same spot in the gym to warm up? Where we are influences what we do.   

Emotions: Do you eat when you are really hungry?  Or do you also eat when you are bored, lonely, tired, angry, or sad? Can you tell the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger?

Preceding events:  It helps to link actions together, such as expressing gratitude for one thing during the day when you sit down to dinner or packing your own lunch right after packing your kids’.

Other people:  Have you heard the Jim Rohn quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with?”  Are these five people in your life frequenting places and acting in ways that will support the improvements you want to make in your health?

Tip #3: Change your environment

If you find yourself surfing the crest of a motivation wave only to crash into a trough, this is your game-changer.  Remember, we set our environment up for comfort, so if something in your environment isn’t serving you, you can change it.  And when the environment in which you spend most of your time supports your goals, motivation becomes…irrelevant. You will have set yourself up to succeed every day and reaching your goals will become easier.

Tip #4: Get Support

We know it’s not easy to change a habit, environment or lifestyle.   If you are seeking to make positive changes in your health and wellness, come join our Healthy Habits Practice Community.  It’s a safe place where we are all learning, sharing and growing as we build healthy habits for life one at a time. Hope to see you there!