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Stuck on the couch? Looking for some motivation? Put down the remote and quit waiting for inspiration. According to many sources in education and psychology, motivation cannot come from outside you. It’s something you make yourself.
Admittedly, sometimes with help from outsiders. When your boss says he needs the project done by Friday, and an unsaid “or else” hovers in the air, you get motivated. It comes from your decoding the “or else” and deciding what’s important to you. Here are some things that make motivation happen so you get on with living your best life.
We all have certain values we cherish, beliefs about how things ought to be. If one of those values is, for example, that you must do something productive every day, then listen to that. While you get out of your jammies you can think of something productive to do.
This can be a motivation trap. What if you can’t come up with that belief because another is interfering? When you’re feeling down, you may not think you are capable of doing anything right. That’s a stopper that will send you right back to bed.
If you have trouble with a negative thought that gets in the way of your best values, find the error in the negative thought and think the opposite. It’s hard but you can do it.
What if you’re supposedly not capable of doing anything right? That’s overgeneralization, making a broad statement about one mistake. You are capable of doing things. Many of them will turn out just fine. How can you totally screw up laundry when the washer actually does it? Take the low-hanging fruit. You can do SOMETHING, just pick an easy thing.
Overwhelmed with choices about what to do? If that is what holds you couchbound, it’s time to prioritize.
You can list your usual activities and when they happen. If you go to water aerobics twice a week and your monthly club meeting every second Wednesday, write those down. Also write down any appointments and special events. Then you can schedule them in your calendar or planner.
Write down all the tasks you can think of that have deadlines. Write the deadlines down too. Then figure out what time you need to accomplish them. If you have no idea, write that. Now you can schedule those things you need to do before their deadlines. Aren’t you organized!
If there are projects you want to take on, write them down and then break them into smaller jobs you can fit in. You can schedule them or keep them by the calendar for when you have holes in your activities.
Now look what you did. You got the overwhelm out of your head and into some kind of order. That’s an achievement! Go you!
Have some solid routines in place so you have a way to grab onto an activity for no other reason than it’s time to do it.
Suppose you’re sitting all unmotivated staring at “The Price Is Right” and wondering how you got to that low. And it’s Wednesday. What do you do on Wednesday? The grocery store gives us seniors 5% off on Wednesdays so you’ve begun to do the food shopping then.
Good routine! Time to hit the “off” button and make a list for shopping, and then go do it before the other retirees get all the orange juice!
That gets you off the couch for an hour or two. While you’re driving to and from the store you may think of something else you’d like to do, or maybe need to do. And a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
Time to try a new thing? A little scared? It’s only natural. We all want to do well, but let’s face it–the first time is a time of epic mistake-making potential. And we don’t like to make lots of mistakes.
This is also true of things we haven’t done in a long, long time. No matter how good at sewing and quilting a person may be, after ten years of no time at the sewing machine, it’s a little intimidating to go back.
So couch-time spent worrying about what can go wrong will suck the motivation right out of you.
What to do?
Maybe research. If you are worried about your first skydiving outing, talk to people who do it and get some helpful pointers. Avoid those with scary stories. Think about George W. Bush doing it when he was in his 80s. Think about why you wanted to do that in the first place. And prepare to enjoy!
Maybe gear up. That cooperative quilt project for your favorite charity is coming. Go clean and oil the sewing machine and make sure you have a decent needle in it. Check your thread and bobbin inventory. Get your work area ready or at least assemble your tools. When the scraps come you’ll be ready for them.
Maybe practice. What if you are to read an announcement, article, Bible verse or poem to a group of people? You’re likely to be nervous about it. Many people get nervous speaking or reading in front of a crowd. Get up and find your reading or speech, and read it aloud as you would like it to go, over and over. When your mouth gets used to delivering the words smoothly, you’re golden.
And a bonus tip: Concentrate on what you’re reading. Focus your vision on the page, your hearing on your voice, and be present in your body. That way you’re safe in your bubble doing your best. Works for me, and it’s easier than imagining 220 people in their undies!
You want to make a change but…
They say change is good. If that’s so, why do we resist so much? Because we don’t think the status quo is bad enough? Anyway, being creatures of habit, we don’t go for change even when we know what’s good for us. In this case, the motivation is on the side of no change. To get off the couch we need to rethink that.
For more detail about switching your motivation to make a change, read this.
First, let’s look at the change from both sides. Why is it good to exercise, for example, versus why it’s better to stay on the couch. After all, we all know why we should. We also know why we haven’t. Mostly we’ve done some and come away damaged, so what’s the use of walking in the snow?
You may do this routine a few times and then something else changes, like your health. Then the balance shifts.
Change is possible
Now’s the time to see how you might work a little exercise into your life. Good news! A new study says if you do a little housework here, some yard stuff there, and walk your dog around a bit, you’re in good shape. Maybe I can do that much, you think, and so you may try.
Suppose you don’t get a back spasm out of that. And your doctor is on board with your exercising, even gave you some pointers. Time to make a plan for adding some activity to your days.
Do a SMART plan for a change like this–click here.
Motivation is within you. All of this is about inner work you need to do to get off the couch and into action. When it doesn’t come easily to you, look at the situation, find out what is holding you back, and fix it. Don’t get glued to the couch. There’s too much else to do!
What do you do to motivate yourself? Share in comments.