Some days it’s harder to be motivated than others. We all know the feeling; our alarm goes off, and all we want is another 15 minutes in bed before we have to start our day. Or, the mid-afternoon sleepies hit at work, we can’t be bothered to go to our weekly spin class, clean the house, do the dishes – honestly, there are an endless amount of things that we can potentially lose our motivation for. So, how do we stay motivated? Well, other than Mel Robbins’ The Five Second Rule (more on that later), some ways to stay motivated so you can live your best life might include planning and prioritizing your day, solidifying your goals, adjusting your environment, and remembering that work is not meant to be your entire life. Although staying determined can be challenging, there are some techniques to help you fire your old self and implement new, healthy habits. So, today let’s take a look at 5 tips for staying motivated and how to integrate them into your daily routines so that you can ultimately mold yourself into your best self and love the life you live!
Mel Robbins is an internationally recognized motivational speaker and personal development coach who created The High 5 Habit (which I break down in a previous article!) as well as The 5 Second Rule. Essentially, Mel says that if you have the instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds, or your brain will kill it. This means, the next time you’re struggling to get out of bed or procrastinating your workout, you should take a deep breath, count to five, and get to work. When I first heard about Mel’s five second rule, I was a little skeptical: how will counting to five motivate me to get the things done that I need to? I had wondered. However, the psychology of why The 5 Second Rule works so flawlessly is more complex than that. Basically, our brains just want to please us. So when we get into the habit of acting on a motivational impulse, it becomes a habit over time. Therefore, it might seem a bit silly to count to five and then get yourself to start the task at first. But, after a while, counting to five will become a trigger to your brain, signaling for it to focus more intently on the task at hand (because it is important to you) so you can get it completed and move on. The wisdom of The 5 Second Rule in action comes from harnessing the motivation when you have it and turning it into a daily habit so that on the days you don’t have motivation, the tasks still get done. Being able to utilize simple techniques like this to become more motivated throughout your day is critical so that you may fire your old self to create your new, best self.
Another way to motivate yourself on a daily basis is to spend some time in the morning planning and prioritizing your day. Personally, I am a huge fan of lists and journaling to get your day started on the right foot. I am always more likely to complete a task (even an unpleasant one) if it is on my daily to-do list and prioritized in a way that makes sense for my day. For some, they might want to get the task completed first thing – is this why people wake up and work out at like 5 am?! Or, for others, it might make sense to attach the chore or task to something they already do. For example, I don’t love cleaning the kitchen or doing the dishes, BUT I do love having a clean kitchen and space in general. So, what I do now is organize and clean my kitchen each morning as my breakfast is cooking. Since I touch parts of it every day, it never gets completely out of hand, and instead of taking 5-10 minutes to scroll on my phone while I wait for my food, I get something productive done AND get to cross it off my list. I don’t know about you, but nothing feels better than getting to cross off completed projects off your daily to-do list. Also, the feeling of crossing everything off your to-do list?! Unmatched. If you’re finding that you’re not feeling motivated to do certain tasks or jobs throughout the day, try adding them to your to-do list and see how much more easily they become a part of your daily routines. In the end, finding techniques like this that work for you is crucial so that you can stop stressing about the little things, get your to-do list crossed off, and ultimately live your best life.
Besides prioritizing the daily tasks on your to-do list, you might be feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed regarding all your future goals and aspirations. An excellent way to tackle these feelings and re-ignite your motivation is solidifying your goals. There are several ways you can do this, including writing down long-term goals in your journal along with actionable ways to make them happen or adding them to your vision board so that you can look at them every day as you work towards them. (I also have an entire article on vision boards entitled “How Vision Boards Help You Achieve Your Dreams” for those interested in more on vision boards). Solidifying your goals in this way will once again signal to your brain that this is something important that needs to be considered, and since your brain wants to please you, it will work to help you bring yourself closer to these goals. Have you ever been told that something bad that’s happened to you is a ‘blessing in disguise?’ Well, even if you don’t really understand it at the time, I know, losing your job or breaking up with your significant other can hurt in the moment, you need to remember that while one door closes, the Universe is often opening up a better door for you and your future. So, how does solidifying your goals keep you motivated? By cementing it as something important to your overall success, your brain will ensure you take steps (even baby steps!) towards realizing your goals and becoming your best self over time. Often under-utilized techniques, journaling and using a vision board are excellent ways to solidify your goals and work on molding yourself into your best version of yourself while remembering that life’s short, love the life you live!
Sometimes feeling unmotivated has nothing to do with long-term goals or where you’re headed in the future. Sometimes feeling unmotivated can be as simple as not feeling comfortable in your own environment. As someone who uses ‘the chair’ to throw all my things on at the end of a long day, I can definitely understand feeling so overwhelmed and unmotivated that you have no idea where to start. This is why, as I briefly mentioned above, I have tried to get into daily habits of cleaning the spaces I inhabit. By adjusting your environment in this way, you can clear up more mental capacity for the tasks you have to undertake in a day while also enjoying a cleaner, more organized space. Personally, if my house is messy, it becomes a struggle for me to focus properly (like the other day I HAD to hand wash five glasses that the dishwasher could not get clean for some reason before I could reasonably sit down to start my workday). When the environment we inhabit is tidy, our minds become tidier as well, meaning we can think more clearly with a larger focus and attention on the task at hand. Plus, I find that once I get on a roll with cleaning, it’s not a far stretch to bring that motivation with me into my work. Besides reducing clutter, some other ways to adjust your environment to be more motivated to work could involve lighting a candle, turning on a diffuser, or adding some background music. No matter what works for you, adjusting your environment to induce your motivation is critical if we are to fire our old self to create our new, best self.
Nowadays, the ‘hustle culture’ is so real that many of us Millennials in our mid-20s are experiencing major burnout. Burnout can contribute to mental health issues, declining work ethic, and of course, decreased levels of motivation. That’s why it’s so important to remember you’re meant to work to live, not live to work. This idea that work is our entire life comes from a deeply ingrained tradition that we are our jobs. However, this is just truly not the case anymore in modern-day society. (I’m not saying our identities should ever be so intrinsically tied to our job description, but I’m just saying it did and still does happen). We are so much more than our work title. For example, I am a self-proclaimed freelance writer and editor. But, I am also so much more than that; I am an entrepreneur, a dog mama, a pizza lover, an athlete (at heart LOL), a daughter, a sister, and the list goes on. So, next time you’re feeling unmotivated, ask yourself when was the last time you took off your ‘career hat’ and put on your ‘fun aunt hat’ or ‘silly daughter hat’ and spent some time doing something NOT work-related? Yes, having a meaningful career that provides for you and your family is important, but taking some time to do things you love can increase your overall happiness, motivation, and fulfillment in life while also allowing you to re-set and re-focus your energy. The idea that you should work to live, not live to work is underrated by well basically everyone. If we could re-instill this mindset that as humans, we are so much more than our job title (universally I mean, I understand that not everyone thinks in this limiting way), I think as a society we would find truer happiness and be organically motivated to complete tasks. In the end, remembering that we are so much more than our careers is important if we are to truly begin molding ourselves into our best versions and living our best lives.
Staying motivated can definitely be a daily challenge, but there are a few simple techniques you can start implementing immediately to help you increase your motivation and general satisfaction. If you’re interested in more details regarding The 5 Second Rule, I would highly recommend purchasing Mel’s book or trying to find a readable version online. While counting to five seems like an overly simplistic way to initiate a task, it works at a deeper level to signal what’s important to your brain so it can start prioritizing what’s important to you. Furthermore, planning and prioritizing your own daily to-do list can help you feel more motivated to get things done, and a great way to do this is through task pairing. By pairing the task you don’t really want to do or feel unmotivated towards with a daily routine you already complete each day, it can be much easier to instill it as a habit or get the task done in general. Besides this, solidifying your future goals by writing them in your journal or putting them on your vision board can help you pull yourself closer to these dreams as well as stay motivated to achieve them. Finally, if you are still struggling with motivation, consider adjusting your environment to what works for you, and always be sure to keep in mind that we aren’t meant to live to work but rather work to live. Ultimately, by integrating these 5 tips for staying motivated, we can work to truly fire our old self to create our new self while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live!