Are you one of those people who can’t seem to get motivated? Perhaps you have a list of things you need to do or want to achieve, but can’t quite get around to doing anything about it? Would you like some help to make that all important start? If so then read on and get motivated!
Did you realize that stress has a massive effect on your levels of motivation? When you are stressed you are using the emotional part of your brain to make decisions rather than the rational thinking part. It is harder to think clearly when you are wrapped up in emotional arousal. To activate the logical thinking that allows you to plan, prioritise and problem solve, you need to de-stress first. It is worth making the effort to do this, however hard it may seem. It is not a waste of time as you will be so much more productive when you are calm and thinking clearly. There are many ways you can do this – relaxation, mindfulness meditation, self-hypnosis, breathing exercises to name a few. Try out my free relaxation track for 10 minutes of de-stressing here: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com
Set some time aside to make a plan. Having a strategy to follow will make things easier. Do you remember having to write an essay at school or college? It was often difficult to know where to start and the whole idea of writing several thousand words seemed overwhelming.
Making a plan first provides you with a framework and a guide to where you are going, which in turn makes things look more manageable. In the essay example it might be something like: Paragraph 1 = Introduction; Paragraph 2 = first argument/method/model, with evidence; Paragraph 3 = second argument ; Paragraph 4 = compare arguments; Paragraph 4 = Conclusion.
With a framework in place you can then decide the content for each section. Once you have decided what needs to go into each section one by one, the task doesn’t seem so daunting and you feel ready to make a start on the first smaller, manageable step. You also have a clear idea of where you are heading and the end goal. You can even set time frames for each chunk and feel a sense of achievement as each mini-goal is reached, which motivates you to continue.
So, back to that ‘to do’ list:
Step 1: Remind yourself why each entry on your list is important to you.
Why is it valuable to you? What do you want to achieve? Give yourself a sense of purpose.
Step 2: Prioritise
Have a look at your ‘to do’ list and for each entry consider whether there are any deadlines. Do some things need to be completed before others can be started? The answers you give will allow you to get your entries in order of priority.
I often carry out this exercise with clients facing exams with weeks of revision ahead. They often feel very anxious and completely overwhelmed by the amount of things on the list and can’t get motivated to make a start. By breaking things down into order of priority, you can make a start, ensuring the most important things are tackled first.
Step 2: Break tasks down into manageable chunks
Have another look at your prioritised ‘to do’ list and for each entry consider breaking tasks down further into manageable chunks. For an exam, a student might take ‘revise Art History’ and break it down into meaningful components by themes or artists or time periods etc. It may be necessary to break these chunks down further too and this can be determined by considering whether each chunk is manageable and can be realistically attempted and completed within the time scales available. You will also need to consider:
- do I have everything I need to complete this
- if not, what do I need and what action do I need to take to get it
- what are the barriers to completing this task and what steps do I need to take to remove them
Step 3: Chunk down further if necessary. When you have manageable chunks you will feel that each one is achievable and this will motivate you.
Step 4: You are ready to make a start!
With a clear strategy and a guiding framework to follow it is so much easier to feel encouraged to make that all important start and also to stay motivated. Once you get going, notice all your small achievements along the way as you complete each meaningful chunk or mini-goal. This strategy can be applied in many different areas of life – wherever you need to feel motivated.
For example, I regularly help clients wanting to manage their weight. They will often set a goal of wanting to shed say, 30 pounds, which has so far felt so overwhelming that it has been difficult for them to make a start. Sometimes they have managed to make a start, but soon stumble when the end goal seems so far away, and then their motivation wanes and disappears. It’s usually when this feeling of hopelessness starts that they contact me for help. When we make a start of breaking this overall goal down to a realistic and manageable 1 or 2 pounds per week, things suddenly seem more achievable. The client feels motivated again and we can set about planning ways to ensure that each mini-goal is reached within the timescale.
If you struggle with motivation, there are many professional coaches, trainers and therapists who can help you. I run a successful therapy practice in #York. If you need some help I can be reached via my website at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com/contact.html
Feeling inspired to make those changes? Feeling motivated? Make that plan now!