I don’t know about you, but November is the month where I find my motivation sagging. It’s cold, the year is coming to a close, and all I seem to want to do is curl up in a hole and hibernate until the new year. However, my species is not one that hibernates, so I’m forced to get out of bed and face the day with depleting energy and depleting willpower. In January, everyone’s motivation is sky high as fresh starts abound. But how can we find motivation in the here and now – in this present, dreary, penultimate month?
Tip #1: Focus on one thing at a time
I tend to have an all or nothing attitude, which is completely unhelpful as it means that my sense of willpower comes in peaks and troughs. So I’ll start the week freshly-shaved, with a tidy room, meal plan and weekly tasks, but by Wednesday I’ll have crashed, lounging in my room overthinking, feeling sluggish and full of self-loathing. I think this perfectionist attitude (see my article on the detrimental effects of perfectionism) is bad for your mental health as well as your ability to get things done. As the quote goes: “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good.” So do something small every day – don’t let yourself be sucked into the trap of over-indulgence followed by self-denying asceticism. It’s a difficult time of year, and maybe a difficult period in your life, so don’t bog yourself down with massive lists of things to achieve, which will just make you feel worse when you don’t achieve them. Just set yourself one task to do, every day. Immediately, life becomes more manageable, and you get a sense of achievement for following through. It also helps you focus more on the present moment, as you’re not being pulled around by an incessant focus on the future and the need to change your present condition.
Tip #2: Be kind to yourself
This is so so important, but I feel like a lot of people forget about this and fall into patterns of self-doubt and self-hate. How can you feel happy and motivated when you’re obsessed with your shortcomings, and rather than cheering yourself on, you beat yourself up over your lack of achievements, and lack of willpower? This negative approach may motivate you slightly, but at a huge cost to your mental health. Rather than doing things because you want to and it’s an exciting challenge, you are doing things for the sake of removing guilt. You want to better yourself into a new version because you dislike the person you are. We are human beings, not machines. Loving yourself comes first, rather than getting attached to your achievements, and over identifying with the things you do rather than simply existing. This life is short, and it is so much more enjoyable when you can love yourself, and get on board with the complex, creative, wonderful creature that you are. True motivation comes from believing in yourself and finding the positive in each activity you undertake, however mundane and unappealing. This can only happen when you find a place of love within yourself, for yourself. ❤
Tip #3: Keep exercising
I know it’s the end of the year and Christmas is coming, but I also know that if you fall into the pit of over-indulgence, it’s hard to clamber out, and you may drag your willpower for other things down with you. Keeping up an exercise routine helps me so much in feeling on top of things, even if I’m not. It’s a natural mood enhancer; it reduces stress; it keeps you feeling balanced. Even if it’s hard to motivate yourself to adorn your trainers, you will feel so much better once you’ve exercised – that’s a guarantee. Exercise can also give a structure to your day, and empower you to get on with other activities. It can also count for the one task you do that day.
So there are my tips. I hope some helped. I would be interested to know what things you do to stay motivated.