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We all go through times when motivation is low. As winter approaches, the mornings get darker, the days get shorter, and you accept that the winter blues have taken over. Your motivation is starving.
So how can you overcome the sofa’s magnetic pull and the law of averages? Money is a popular motivator, but it can’t just be money. A healthier body is also a common goal, but why is it important to you in the first place? Success can light a fire under you, but what does success look like to you?
The real motivator is all the great things we can do with money, healthier bodies, and success. What would life be like? What trips would you take? What great schools would you send your kids to? What a beautiful house could you have? What charity or cause could you fund?
If you’re feeling unmotivated, you need to find a way to remind yourself why you have goals in the first place. You need intrinsic motivation. The inner drive to perform daily actions towards your goals out of your own interest and pleasure, where the act of doing the behavior is itself the reward.
With intrinsic motivation in mind, here’s a simple action plan to stay motivated or de-motivated this winter:
Related: 7 Things to Add to Your Routine to Fight the Winter Blues
1. Take a piece of paper and make a list headed “WHY?” on top of it
Write down all the reasons why you want to achieve your current goals. These reasons often include a lot about other people, so include a healthy mix of these external motivators as well as your own intrinsic motivators. Examples might be feeling accomplished, feeling proud of yourself, being able to pay for something you couldn’t otherwise, keeping a promise you made to yourself, etc.
2. Write down each separate reason on index cards
Every day, flip through these cards during your morning coffee, on the train, during your journaling session, or at any other time when you can be mindful.
3. Imagine your life if your reasons were fulfilled. This is called creative visualization.
Walk through your day from beginning to end. What would your days be like? Who would you be spending time with? Where would you be? What would you and your family be doing if you were the success you want and earned the money you want?
4. Be clear on what you are really spending your time on each day and if you really enjoy it.
Are you genuinely living a life that feeds your soul? How are your actions enhancing or diminishing this dream life? Whether or not you are living your vocation happily, here is an exercise to help you identify exactly what is holding you back and causing you to feel demotivated.
Exercise: Go through each task and place it in one of the three columns titled:
- 1. Love | 2. Don’t love | 3. Neutral
The list in the “Love” column can be celebrated and, of course, continued. The list in the “Don’t love” column must be delegated or otherwise discharged to turn off this energy leak. As for the “Neutral” tasks, decide if you can keep doing them while maintaining a higher level of passion and motivation. If not, delegate those as well.
5. Stop to smell the roses
Nothing can demotivate like never taking a break and facing burnout. In addition to enjoying your work, make time to enjoy the moments and days when you are not working. Schedule a glass of wine after work, plan a massage for the weekend or take a weekend hike in the countryside. These are all ways to celebrate small successes and re-motivate yourself.
Of course, the best way to start this whole journey to intrinsic motivation is to just get started. Only you can do this for yourself. Follow these five steps and you’ll not only beat the winter blues, but you’ll reach your goals with more ease and passion than ever before.
Related: 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You’re Really Not Feeling It