New Year is wonderful for feeling inspired, motivated and full of energy for a productive year ahead.
The truth is that eventually, the initial enthusiasm wanes and it can be hard to sustain motivation to complete the task and persevere. In fact, according to one study by social fitness network, Strava, January 19th is the day most of us decide to quit any resolutions.
When we feel like quitting and it seems too hard, how do we reignite that initial eagerness? How do we recapture our motivation?
In issue 5 of The Homeworker magazine, we look at many different ways to reignite the spark after a break, holiday or rest period. These can also be useful to refer to when lacking in motivation.
Accept it will happen to you
It’s not a bolt out of the blue. You get to January 20th and suddenly you don’t feel so enamoured by that plan of yours to run six times a week, only eat spinach after 6pm and read three books every night.
It happens to everyone. We start the year full of good intentions and they quickly fade. The first step to tackling it is acknowledging that it will happen to a degree. It might take a few weeks, it might take a few months but there will come a point where you feel the struggle. Knowing this gives you a great incentive to do something about it and make plans for that moment so you’re not ready to throw in the towel at the first sign of a wobble.
Habits to sustain motivation
One of the best ways to ensure you don’t give up a few months (or even weeks into the year) is to make sure you have established a good routine and habits.
It takes on average 66 days for a behaviour to become automatic (not the 21 days that is often quoted). Getting those actions ingrained as soon as possible will make it easier to keep going.
We know habits can be hard to break so forming productive ones means you are less likely to quit when enthusiasm wanes.
Think about the kind of things you need to do in order to complete or follow through on your task.
It could be setting small daily goals such as writing so many words each day for a writing project, completing so many squats a day or running 5 km for a fitness goal.
Other habits which can help you get into a good routine include:
• waking at the same time each day
• journaling on your goals every morning
• doing a certain task at the same time each day
• having a drink of water every time you go to the kitchen
Each one helps you to get into a habitual rhythm to work and be productive meaning you’re more likely to continue to do it long after you start out.
There are a few ways you can also help yourself to stay accountable when trying to form a productive habit, which we explore here.
For some expert tips on making and breaking habits, read the brilliant article with neuroscientst, Dr Lynda Hall and neuro-coach, Naiyer Quraishi in our print issue: volume 3
Scheduling your time
Making a commitment to do something starts with making time for it. Make sure you schedule your tasks into your calendar or planner and make that time non-negotiable.
It takes a lot of self-discipline but I find when something is written down for a certain time and date, it becomes much harder to not follow through. It’s written there in black and white; it’s real; it’s not a vague notion or idea in your head.
When you write it down for your schedule, you’re also helping to clarify exactly what it is you’re doing and making a powerful connection in your brain that will help you to remember it and more likely act upon it.
Motivation and the stress effect
One model discussed in Issue 3 of The Homeworker is the Yerkes Dodson-law. We looked at the warning signs of stress and the impact it can have on your productivity and health.
The model shows how you can optimise your performance and how the right amount of stress is actually very effective in getting you to take action and make progress.
In the article, GPs, Drs Heidi Kerr and Vicky Hobbs of VHK Education, explain how we often push beyond that optimum point and discuss the warning signs that you are over-stressed
The key point is to ensure that you are excited enough by the task to perform (giving yourself a realistic deadline can help inject some urgency) but not overly stressed by it that you end up exhausted, demotivated and unable to perform.
Aligning to your values to stay motivated
A sure-fire way to lose motivation and the will to continue is doing something that feels ‘wrong’.
If you’re uneasy or the task feels difficult in that it jars against your own principles, it becomes a chore, something you’ll tend to procrastinate on and avoid.
When you’re in alignment with your values, doing something that fires you up on all levels and makes you feel empowered and excited, it’s instantly easier to sustain motivation.
Knowing your values is the first step. Understand what’s important to you, what you believe in and what standards you’d like to uphold.
If creativity and honesty are two of your values, doing a job that is formulaic or not completely transparent is going to prove challenging.
Keep checking in with your values and that what you’re doing fits within the framework that these values create.
Make it Fun: Gamification
Something that’s enjoyable is a lot less likely to be something you give up on.
Making a game or challenge of your task can help to raise the fun and excitement levels.
The other way to make something more fun is to involve a friend, which brings us to the final point.
Stay motivated with a friend
Not only do friends help to keep things light-hearted, they can also help you stick to your goals and call you out if you’re slacking.
Doing something as part of a group or with another friend helps you to stay the course. You have somebody else to consider and somebody else you’re letting down if you bail.
Tapping into your conscience and giving you the much-needed push if need be.
For more ideas on how to sustain motivation, checkout volume 2 of The Homeworker magazine in print. It is full of practical tips for your planning and productivity. A subscription to The Homeworker gives you a quarterly dose of strategies, ideas and inspiration for your mind, body and business.