“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh
We typically start a new year off with so many grand ideas about how we’ll change everything and become a better person–and those grand ideas last for about a month before life intervenes and it gets harder to find a schedule that works for our busy, busy lives. I’m guilty of it, and I’m sure you’re guilty of it, too. (If you’re not, I highly envy you, and please tell me your magical secret.)
I’m not the best at maintaining motivation, especially when I’m going through low funks, but I’m awfully good at it. I’ve got some stellar willpower, which I’m eternally grateful for, but I’ve also just had a lot of practice. Par example, I used to bite my nails up until about age nineteen, and then I just decided to stop. And I did. I also quit soda cold turkey, and I’ve been on a relatively steady work out routine for the past six or so years. I’m not bragging–these are just some accomplishments I’ve managed to keep up with. Waking up at six am every day? That one is a tad more difficult. What I’ve come to learn is that everything is hard at first, but it gets easier the longer you keep up with it. It’s also, obviously, more rewarding.
So, how do we find and maintain our motivation? First off, you’ve got to realise that you’re not going to be a pro right away. But, that’s okay. You’ve got time. As the cliche states, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” It’s silly, but true. Another great cliche? “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” Take every day as a new day. Be present in that day, and if you’ve “failed” at whatever you wanted to do the previous day, know that with the new day comes a clean slate. So you didn’t work out yesterday when you wanted to? Fine. That was yesterday. Be present in today, and sally forth to the gym or take out your home equipment for a brief 30 minute work out.
Secondly, it might help to keep a small notebook on hand that you write your to-do list on every day. It’s cathartic and soul lifting to check off all of the errands you’ve put on the list day by day. It makes you feel like you’ve been successful with your day, and it assures that you’ve already dedicated some time to that workout or making that new recipe or what have you.
On that note, I think it’s also helpful to reflect and keep a journal (bullet or otherwise) that you write in before bed every night on what you’ve done in the day, and why you might need to work on for the next day. I have problems with this myself, and I want to get better at keeping up with my journal this year. Even if you just list out your day, or write what you’re grateful for, it’s going to put you in a great mindset for the next morning, and positive mindsets go a long way in motivating you.
It might help to start small at first. Don’t jump straight into working out every day if you’ve not worked out for a while. That’s a fantastic way to burn yourself out really quickly. Instead, start off with three or four days a week and then build into that. This applies with almost everything else. Introduce yourself to new things slowly, and there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll keep with it.
Challenge yourself each month with a new “30 Day To Do.” It’s a great way to learn how to hold yourself accountable, and strengthens your willpower towards keeping to the schedule of what you’ve laid out before you. Some of my favourite past “30 Day” challenges include going vegetarian, which I basically kept with (I do eat seafood, so I’m technically a pescetarian), flossing every night, and giving up sweets (which was hard, I’ll admit). And, right now, I’m doing the 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adriene (which can be found on Youtube, if you’re interested!).
And, most importantly, listen to yourself. If you’re pushing yourself too hard, know when to slow things down. Be honest with yourself and what you can accomplish on a day to day basis. This isn’t to say don’t challenge yourself, but don’t ridicule yourself or put yourself down for not perfectly sticking with someone. None of us are perfect. The best you can do is try again, and start the next day with a positive attitude.
I wish you luck in all your endeavors for this year. You’re going to do brilliantly.