Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Not feeling motivated? I'm going to tell you a secret. It's OK not to be motivated all the time, in fact, most of us aren't. I think that is why, so often, we feel like we aren't getting done.
We aren't motivated to do anything.
That's why what you do when you aren't motivated is actually more important than what you do when you are motivated.
Motivation Gets You Started
If you are like me, and want to get healthy, it is that desire that motivates you. It gets you started onto the right path. You decide to do yoga, take more vitamins, drink more water, or schedule that dentist appointment. Or, did you decide to start a new job, or a savings plan? That desire for something better in your life is what started you down the path.
Why did you decide that you wanted to take the path you have chosen?
Are you like me, and want to have more energy to do things with your kids? Or, do you want to make changes in an area of your life you don't feel is working? Knowing the reason why you made a choice is your initial motivation. It is what made you step out of your comfort zone and start something new.
Forming New Habits
It takes about a month for a new routine to become a habit. Your mind and your body have to adjust to doing something unfamiliar.
When we are doing a new task, our mind requires more focus to complete the steps. If you are doing a new yoga routine, or making a new recipe, you frequently have to check the instructions to make sure that you are doing it right.
As you do something more and more, your mind begins to learn the steps, and you have to look at the instructions less often. The process is moving from your conscious mind, to your unconscious mind, and this is how a habit is formed.
Have you ever noticed that the first time you drive to a new place, you have more anxiety, you have to follow the directions closely, you scrutinize the area and the street signs. But when you are driving somewhere familiar, like home from work for example, your hands start to make the turns automatically, and you find your mind wandering to other things. Yet, you still make it home easily, because your mind already automatically knows the way.
When something becomes a habit, it requires less mental effort.
This is what I am talking about when I talk about forming habits. Habits are things that we do repeatedly, and can do without thinking about them very much. Like tying your shoes, or making your morning coffee. We know we have to do them, but we don't spend time consciously thinking about the HOW. When something becomes a habit, we do it easily and automatically.
That is why consistency is key when we are doing something new. The first steps are always the most difficult.
Making Habit into Routine
I have talked before about the importance of having a morning routine.
Routines are important because they are a combination of habits that we have put together, and do on a repeated basis. Once we have had the same morning routine for a few weeks, or a few months, it becomes something that we go through automatically.
That means, we are getting up first thing in the morning, and not having to think very much about what we need to do. That overcomes the need to be motivated all the time. We do the "right" things automatically, because we are used to doing them, so we don't actually require any motivation.
We Only Need Motivation at the Beginning.
Now, doesn't that make things easier? We don't really need to be motivated all the time. We just need to keep going, and putting one foot in front of the other, down the path our more motivated self chose.
This morning, I was doing a really hard yoga class, and I got really tired of doing Standing Splits over and over. I almost turned the TV off and slumped onto the couch. But I didn't. I kept going even though I didn't really want to.
That, my friends, is the key to successfully building new habits, and establishing a new routine: to do things even when you don't feel motivated.
You know what happens when you do something hard, even though you didn't want to? It makes you happier. Now, I got through my hard yoga routine, had my coffee, and helped my partner put the dishes away. I feel less blah and unmotivated. I feel proud of myself for getting up and taking on the day. I feel ready for what comes next.
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Let me know what you think in the comments! What motivates you? What keeps you going when you don't feel motivated?