A few weeks back I blogged about how it’s okay to get into a slump every now and then. An unmotivated slump, where you can’t be bothered doing anything productive, when all you want to do is lie in bed all day and eat chips and read a book or watch marathon episodes of your favourite TV show. When you don’t want to do a single thing you know you should be doing instead – like household chores or a workout or creating a healthy, delicious meal or visiting the parents or something (guilty, guilty, guilty). And I wrote that it’s okay to get into a slump like that every now and then without feeling guilty about it so long as you manage to pull yourself out of it.
But how do you get out of a slump? How do you motivate yourself to get out of that slump and start doing all the things you know you should be doing and which you know you would be all the better for doing but you just can’t be arsed to start doing? What if you’re so completely unmotivated that you don’t even care anymore, you just wanna lie in your big, comfy bed and read your book and eat your chips and leave your phone depleted of battery and nothing, absolutely nothing, could make you care about all those amazing things you could be doing out there instead? (guilty, guilty, guilty, TOTALLY GUILTY).
Well, as you can probably guess, I’ve been there, done that, and here, as tried and proven, I’ve compiled a list of ways to pull yourself out of that slump and get that mojo motivated!
1) First of all, purge yourself with a huge, major Slumping Splurge aka the Sin Weekend: you want to lie in bed all day and do nothing? DO IT. In fact, give yourself two days of lazing around and doing absolutely nothing that you don’t want to do, and really do it. Just treat yourself. I liken it to allowing yourself a day or two of eating absolutely anything you want, all the bad food you want, and once you’ve had all you want of it and don’t want it anymore, that’s the time to start your diet. I gave myself a couple of days of lying around in bed/on the sofa, eating big bags of chips and reading and at the end of it, I was fully satisfied with my Sin Weekend and all ready and aching to get back on the treadmill and eat healthy again.
2) Get inspired by others: While I was rolling around in that bed in blissful laziness, I also spent a bit of time reading the ‘I am a Runner’ stories on the Runner’s World website. Just reading about all these runners and their running stories got me excited about getting back on track with running! So whatever it is you do, look up inspirational stories of other people who have already done it – Google them or get a book. (keep in mind that this did not occur during the Sin Weekend as Sin Weekend was a complete guilt-free, unmotivated orgy of laziness)
3) Start small. I am guilty of setting goals that are way too high and getting disappointed and discouraged when I don’t meet those goals. So start small. Break down your goal into tiny manageable blocks and reward yourself for every milestone that you reach. That way, you won’t get discouraged easily, plus it makes it a lot easier to get off the starting block when you only have to do, say, half a lap rather than 10 laps without stopping.
4) Keep a written record of all your milestones. That way, you can flip back and admire your progress, plus it will also make you not want to backslide midway through and ruin that beautiful record you’ve got so far. Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, has a resolution chart (inspired by Benjamin Franklin) where she keeps track of whether or not she’s meeting her resolutions/goals each day. If she’s met a goal, she gets to tick it off, if she doesn’t, she puts an X. Just having that visual reminder/record helped her keep her resolutions or at least helps her get back on track faster than usual.
5) Make it interesting and fun. If you’re not enjoying the progress, you’re not going to be motivated to do it. So – you want to learn a language? Pick a language you find beautiful, from a culture you’re interested in. You want to lose weight? Pick a form of exercise you’d enjoy, not something that you really hate. Writing? Write within a genre/style you’d enjoy, not just something you think might sell. Studying for an exam on a really dry topic? Sing your textbook sentences, form a study group with friends, or create little funny scenarios around each paragraph that would help you remember what you’re learning – act out a scene in a history chapter or create a mini economy with your friends for your economics class – anything that would make it more interesting.
6) Tell other people about it. The more you discuss your goals with your friends and family, the more excited you’d get about it – and the more motivated you’ll get about your goals – not just because you’ve just acquired your personal cheering squad, but also because you’d feel more obligated to get out and start doing it, because everyone will now be asking you, ‘So how’s progress going with (your goal)?’ Or if you’re a blogger, blog about it – and then start posting weekly updates – now the whole world has their eye on you!
7) Put your money on it. Only tough love got me out of bed. I told a workmate and my boyfriend that I would pay them $100 each if I didn’t go to three gym classes this week. I’ve gone to two so far – and I’ve got one more to go this week! And yep, the threat of losing that money did work a treat. Even when I didn’t feel like it, I had to go!
8) Have a plan. Sometimes it’s hard to get started on something – because you just don’t know where to start. So have a plan – and make it a reasonable plan to follow. Say, if you want to eat healthy, plan out all your meals for a week and do a big shop at the beginning of the week so you’ll have all your ingredients ready at hand. Or if you want to start a blog, make a list of what you need to start a blog (i.e., research, creating a blog statement, and having a list of content ideas), then carve out a time block of half an hour every day for the next two weeks and what you are going to do in each half hour block to implement your list. Starting out with a map to follow will make it that much easier than just wandering aimlessly.
9) Have a purpose: ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘Why do I want this?’ Having these two fixed answers in your mind will help motivate you to achieve your goal. And if you can’t answer these questions, then maybe this isn’t what you really want.
10) Visualise. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking (or for that matter, the power of negative thinking to get you down). Visualise yourself completing each step of your progress, visualise the end result, squash any negative thoughts like ‘it’s too hard!’ or ‘I can’t do this!’ down as firmly as you can. Instead, make like Barack Obama or the little engine that could and keep thinking, ‘I think I can!’ and ‘Yes, we can!’
11) Just do it. You could lie in bed all today and think, ‘it’s cold. I’m tired. I had a bad day. I just can’t be bothered.’ Well, sometimes you’re just never going to be bothered. And the only thing you can do is drag yourself, kicking and screaming, out of that bed and on to begin whatever it is you have to do. And once you start doing it, you’ll find that, well, it’s really not that bad. And then you’re halfway through it and you think, ‘Oh, wow, I’m halfway through. And I’m still alive.’ And then before you know it, you’re done, and you’re like this: