Commit Not to Quit – Tips for Wintertime Motivation
Well, we are a month into a new year and the holiday season is behind us for another 9 months. Whew!!! For most all of us, we are back to our “normal” lives and the daily grind. For some, the children are back to school and have homework to keep them busy each night instead of staying up late when we working folk still have to go to work in the morning. Hopefully, our sleep patterns have returned back to what they were before the holidays and there are no more goodies to snack on in the office. With life returning to its normal routines we would think that we would feel more refreshed without all the holiday extras. This may not be for some of us. This may be the time of the year where you feel more sluggish and find it difficult to sustain motivation and energy to follow through with our New Year’s resolutions or even everyday tasks.
I am an avid runner and run almost every day of the week. I meet my running partners at a local gym at 5 a.m. and the first few weeks of the year the parking lot is packed full of cars. After the first week of the year has passed, we begin noticing the parking lot being less full of cars. Usually, by the end of January, the parking lot is back to its normal 5 a.m. capacity. This happens every year for the past several years. My running partners and I make a passing joke about it every year.
Let’s not make our New Year’s resolution a New Year’s revolution where we make the same goal every year. Sustaining motivation and energy can be a daunting task in itself but there are ways that we can continue to be successful at achieving our New Year’s resolutions. We first have to reassess our New Year’s resolution. Did we bite off more than we can chew? Is it realistic? If we find out the resolution is too much, then we need to redefine our goals to be doable and realistic. If the goal is realistic, then we need to remind ourselves of our intentions for making the resolution. Or, maybe you have been working really hard on the resolution and have not given yourself a rest time away from the task. A day off from the resolution is just like taking a day off from work to rest.
What is the conversation that we have with ourselves in our head that contributes to a lack of follow through with the task? A lot of times we are telling ourselves excuses about why we don’t have to do the task. “I will watch this one last episode and then I’ll workout” (4 episodes later and you are still telling yourself that). “I can miss just one day” (again, 4 days later saying the same thing). “I have to vacuum before I can go to the gym.” “How come it is so hard for me but not everyone else?” Knowing our excuses can provide us with helpful information. When we start these conversations with ourselves (yes, it is perfectly fine to talk to yourself), we can use them as alarm signals that we are heading into our lazy mode. We can develop disputing statements to counteract these excuses. For example, if we tell ourselves “I will work out after this episode,” we can dispute this by saying “It will be more enjoyable to watch the episode after I work out.” This is giving us a reward for doing the task. Remember, we enjoy activities more when we do not have nagging thoughts about accomplishing tasks.
Another way to increase motivation is to change our environments that are compatible with success. For example, if you are trying to eat more healthy snacks, do not bring unhealthy snacks into the home. If you have difficulty getting yourself to the gym, do not pour yourself your morning coffee until after you have worked out. Also, have a partner to share these experiences with. There have been many mornings I have woken up and did not want to run, but I knew my running partner would be waiting for me and I did not want him to run alone. Other people can hold us accountable which increases motivation. Are we getting adequate sleep? Sleep can be very important and set up a healthy sleeping environment is important. The room should be dark, cool, and quiet. We should not have a television in our rooms because at times our bedrooms can become our family rooms. I know many of you are saying “Really!!!” Sorry I did not make the rules on this one. Talk to Mother Nature. The light from televisions can prevent our bodies from preparing itself for sleep.
Motivation is not something that life owes us or gives to us willingly. We have to sometimes create our motivation. Creating a mantra can help us cheerlead ourselves to success. A mantra that I have for myself is “I commit not to quit.” We also can use a technique called resourcing. This is when we visualize a time in the past when we overcame a lack of motivation and created success. Emotions are associated with this successful outcome. We can sit with this emotion to help create motivation within us.
Remember, sometimes we don’t have to have the motivation to accomplish tasks but can accomplish tasks anyway. With some of my client’s I tell them I’m not motivated to pick up my dog’s poop, but I do it anyways.
Good luck to you all!!!!