I’d lost it. My mojo, my desire to achieve, my motivation to move forward… was gone.
I had started running in May, a natural progression of the workout routine I’d started a month earlier. I had caught the bug and was going for a run at least every other day. Things were going well – I’d lost some weight and felt better than I had in a long time.
But while out for a run during the last week of July, I somehow managed to injure my left foot. Within an hour of completing my run, I was barely able to stand, a stabbing pain pierced my heel. A quick internet search revealed the most likely diagnosis was plantar fasciitis. Recovery, however, would not be quick. The recommended course of action was rest and reduced activity while the condition resolved itself; but that could take six months to a year.
I tried to convince myself that the pain was temporary, but a couple of test runs proved otherwise. I was grounded. Unable to participate in my new favorite activity, my motivation to exercise plummeted. I started gaining weight again and found myself spending more and more time on the couch.
From time to time, we all suffer from a lack of motivation. Things are clicking along and suddenly, without warning, we hit a wall. Sometimes, all it takes is some sort of setback – a disappointing performance, lack of positive feedback, or even an injury. In other instances, a drop in motivation might result from boredom. Without variation, even the most worthwhile jobs lose their excitement.
Last week I wrote about personal accountability, suggesting ways to keep yourself focused on achieving the goals you set for yourself this year. Accountability is important, but motivation is critical. Think of accountability as external pressure to perform. Motivation, on the other hand, is the internal drive to achieve. Accountability can be avoided and suppressed, but once motivation kicks in it will not be denied.
When motivation ebbs, it can be difficult to regain. I have found there are five things I can do to rekindle the internal fire and boost my motivation.
- Listen to motivating music. There are certain songs that instantly boost my energy level. When I started running, I developed a playlist that never failed to keep me moving. Listening to those songs caused a shift in my mentality. I would instantly envision myself succeeding and my body responded. I enjoyed the sensation so much that I started listening to the playlist at other times. No matter what I’m doing, it inspires me to up my game just a bit. Do you have some go-to motivational music?
- Look at motivating images. Zig Ziglar used to tell the story of his own weight loss journey by describing how he once tore an ad from a magazine. The ad featured a fit male model, and he taped it to his mirror. Every morning Ziglar would look at the ad and ask himself “Zig, do you want to look like you or do you want to look like the guy in the magazine ad?” Similarly, my son has pictures and videos of successful musicians saved on his phone. He wants to be a musician and looking at them motivates him to practice. Looking at images of successful people can help boost my motivation because I imagine myself in their place and feel compelled to take the next step to achieve that goal. Do you have some go-to motivational images?
- Read motivating words. I love quotes. The right combination of words often cuts through the clutter and speaks to my soul so clearly that I cannot help but be motivated to act. For quite a while now, my favorite one has come from Karen Lamb. “A year from now you will wish you had started to day.” Every time I think about that quote, I imagine myself a year in the future and am motivated to get moving. Do you have some go-to motivational words?
- Talk to motivating people. Some people drag you down. Some lift you up. Avoid the former. Be the latter. Talking to people who whine and complain does nothing to help me get better. Talking to people who encourage and challenge me does. I’ve found that the best way to find motivators is to be one yourself. In fact, I can turn my own day around simply by encouraging someone else. As I speak uplifting words to them, I hear and internalize those same words. It’s a sure-fire way to remind myself of the goals I committed to achieve. Do you have some go-to motivational people?
- Do motivating things. They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That first step might be difficult, but the second one is easier. Each subsequent step is easier still. The key is to take that first step – no matter how small you have to make it. Lost your motivation to work out? Go for a short walk. Lost your motivation to clean the house? Start by making the bed. One small victory provides the motivation necessary to move me just a bit further down the path. Do you have some go-to motivational activities?
I’m happy to report that I’m back on the exercise wagon. I’m still not running again, but I am walking daily. As of yesterday, I’ve hit my 10,000 step goal for 24 consecutive days. Of course, seeing the visual representation of my success displayed on my fitness tracker motivates me to keep the streak going.
I hope that, as we near the end of January, you are still on track with your personal improvement goals. If you’ve hit a speedbump – if something has caused you to lose motivation – try some of these tactics to regain it. There’s a lot to accomplish this year. You need to stay fired up.
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