Be honest, how many days has it been since you’ve showered? Or when was the last time you changed from your lunge track pants to your fancy ones? Or how many times have you turned on the dryer to “get the wrinkles out” instead of folding your clothes?
When I first came back to Canada, I left my backpack in a heap on my floor for well over a week. To some, this may not be a big deal. I’ve got friends who will go weeks with their post-vacay clothes still neatly tucked away in their suitcase.
Have you ever left a bag for so long that it becomes part of the room decor? You accept that it belongs in that spot now, so there’s no need to unpack?
I’m a perfectionist with compulsive tendencies and not only am I packed for a trip a week in advance, I unpack with the same vigor and attention to detail. Everything in its place.
Which is why, for me to leave the contents of a bag that had been my whole world for two months just sitting in a pathetic heap on the floor was wildly uncharacteristic.
I don’t know what it was. I just couldn’t get motivated.
I’m sure it was a combination of depression and denial. If I didn’t unpack my bag, my untimely return to a country I no longer resided in wouldn’t be final. If I left my things intact, perhaps my stint on Canadian soil would feel more like a mini vacation, not my new reality until the world re-opened.
The fact is, I lived in Florida before I went off to Thailand. Yet now, I was unexpectedly in Ontario, desperate to return to 41 degree weather and avoiding the harsh realization that my new timeline lacked an expiry.
Motivation level: -100
Quarantine will no doubt affect you in other ways. Your challenges, setbacks, wins, stressors, denial and uncertainty will manifest differently..
Our universal experience then, is motivation, or lack thereof.
Whether you’re coasting through quarantine all showered and productive or questioning your sanity and spending the waking hours making TikToks and eating takeout, have a look at the list below for ways to jump start your day and shake up the routine:
Slay the Day:
1. Just take the first step: Sounds simple right? That’s because it is; sort of. Are you familiar with the quote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?” That little baby packs a punch and is the basic principle for starting anything in life. It’s all about beginning. Start with the easiest part of a task. If it’s doing the dishes, start by filling up the sink. If it’s going for a run, start by putting on your shoes. The most important part of any task is starting. If you can’t get motivated in the beginning, then you’ll find that motivation often comes after starting. Once you get the ball rolling, everything begins to get easier. We often procrastinate tasks because we’re scared, feel we won’t have the time to complete them or feel like the daunting weight of a project will be too much etc. But once you take the first step, everything becomes easier. You’ve already begun! You begin to work with your thoughts instead of against them. Then, as you see the beginning stages of a project coming together, it will create greater motivation to keep the momentum going.
2. Create short term and long term goals: How can you know what needs to be done if your goals aren’t clearly mapped out? Writing out your goals brings them into focus. They become part of your reality because they shift from a passing thought to an actionable step. Short-term goals minimize procrastination. They lay down a clear and defined path to success, allowing you to focus on one thing at a time. This focus will not only help you stay motivated, but it will also help your productivity and have you achieving your long-term goal quicker. Long term goals, in contrast, give you direction for the near or distant future. They allow you to take actionable steps daily in order to see something into fruition later on. It’s the compound effect. Once you have a clear goal in mind, take little steps daily towards its completion. This effort compounded over time creates the lasting results you’re seeking.
3. Map out your week: Setting a schedule for yourself seems simple, but it puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to live. It makes it more likely that you will follow through regardless of your motivation levels. I like to use Google calendar to map my week (down to the hour.) It takes the guesswork out of what needs to be accomplished and allows me to focus on the most important, tedious or time consuming tasks first. By outlining my week, I have less time to think about what I don’t want to do because the hours are set. If you treat your calendar like it’s a job (not just something you can blow off) you’re more likely to stay the course. Having clearly defined timelines makes you more apt to complete your objectives.
4. Have rewards for finishing tasks: Who doesn’t love a good reward? Research shows that people who receive frequent rewards will stay “intrinsically motivated” to perform well. It’s the idea of cause and effect. Rewards make work more enjoyable and as a result motivates you to do more work. Here’s how to get it done:
Pick a few goals/tasks you’re putting off (cleaning the kitchen, writing your book, working out etc.)
Select a few vices you love to indulge in (binging Netflix, satisfying your sweet tooth, takeout from your favorite Chinese spot etc.)
Use your vices as rewards for your goals.
Celebrate your wins and give yourself something to look forward to!
5. Make your bed: Can’t believe this made the list? Think about it, this is legit the first task of your day. Making your bed is a subconscious way to program your mind to get the little things done. Not only is a tidy space a good stress reducer, making your bed instills a sense of accomplishment before you’ve even had your first coffee. And this little win will help set the tone for the rest of the day.
6. Get an accountability partner: This one speaks for itself. An accountability partner is a person who keeps you accountable. They call you on your shit, keep you in check and force you to answer questions when you skip out on an important task. I know for myself, I am less accountable to me than I am to others. Which is why having a business and workout accountability partner is clutch. Both of these women force me to show up when I may have otherwise chosen not to. They are my intrinsic motivation to create action, not excuses. No matter the goal, having another person to show up for may be the gentle shove you need to get things done.
7. Get out of the house: “I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored.” This catchy TikTik song is my mantra some days. Trouble is, one thing that I am not is “bored”. Unmotivated, sure. Bored? Oh hell no! I have so many things I need to be doing, yet some days I cannot muster the will to do them. One extremely effective way to get on task is to get outside. Fresh air means more oxygen. Increased oxygen produces more serotonin (the happy hormone.) The happier you are, the more likely you’ll be to get shit done. Plus, sunlight produces Vitamin D (which helps reduce depression). Combine that with an improved immune system and inspired creativity, and you’ve got yourself one sexy motivational combo.
8. Listen to a motivational Podcast/YouTube video: There is nothing more inspiring than listening to someone I wish to emulate.. It’s like free mentoring for the kind of life I’m trying to lead. By listening to speakers who encourage and uplift us, we are subconsciously becoming more motivated. Their stories of perseverance can create an internal dialogue of change. I have several podcasts that I tune into. Not only do I leave more excited and motivated, oftentimes I have practical tools and skills as a takeaway. Surround yourself with inspiration and you can’t help but be inspired. Surround yourself with motivation and you can’t help but be motivated. Your mind is a sponge. What you absorb becomes what you are.
9. Make S.M.A.R.T goals: One of the first concepts I was introduced to on goal setting was the acronym “S.M.A.R.T” which stands for:
S - Specific (clear and well defined)
M - Measurable (with specific criteria to help you measure the progress of said goal)
A - Achievable (Attainable and not too outlandish or far-fetched)
R - Realistic (Within reach and relevant to your life)
T - Timely (Has a defined beginning and end. This helps create urgency)
Getting motivated can be tricky. It’s a hell of a lot easier if your outcome is realistic. Following this formula keeps me in check when I’m looking to begin a new project. It allows me to prioritize tasks based on their timeline and gets me thinking of the best ways to accomplish the big things. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Chunking down goals into bite-sized bits that are “smart” make the planning an execution a heck of a lot easier.
10. Love yourself: It’s quarantine. Some days you’re winning at life while others you're down on yourself for not doing any of the stuff you “should” do. Stop it. That naggy little self-deprecating voice in the back of your head isn’t doing you any favours. In fact, it’s sabotaging your ability to get motivated. Remember: Thoughts are things. What you say, think and feel about yourself becomes true. So if you’re saying terrible things to yourself because you didn’t check a single thing off your “to do” list, your mind takes note. You are literally telling your mind who you are, good and bad. So when it comes to motivation, love the shit out of yourself. Have more grace and kindness. Speak to yourself in a way that is up lifting. Write yourself love notes and pin them up around your home. The lock screen on my phone is a picture of me that says, “I am Enough.” I see it hundreds of times a day and it’s a beautiful reminder that I am fucking incredible; right now, in this moment, for exactly who I am. So when it comes to getting pumped up, instead of beating yourself into the ground, say, “I love myself for trying” or “I am grateful that I accomplished…” Stop comparing where you’re at with other people. You’re doing the best you can.
As always, be kind to yourself. Covid is challenging us all to look at our lives through an entirely new lens. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t allow a lazy day to completely derail you. Be mindful with your self-talk and know that in every moment there is an opportunity to begin again.
With Love and Light.