How to motivate yourself

Do you know how to motivate yourself?

Are there aspects of your lifestyle, habits, or health that you want to change but you find yourself stuck in old routines? Do you find yourself in a holding pattern that needs invigoration?

After almost five years of retirement, I find myself repeating patterns that satisfy me.  Unfortunately, I also repeat patterns that leave me frustrated and wanting to change.

I have periods of productivity when I complete  writing projects, finish hobby projects, and make things grow in the garden of my life. I spend quality time with my husband, go to the gym for exercise, and have lots of energy. These are the times when I am happiest.

How to Motivate Yourself to Change
How to Motivate Yourself

There are also times when motivation lags. I get stuck in old ruts — reading until the wee hours of the morning, sleeping in,  missing gym classes, and resorting to take out foods instead of cooking nutritious meals at home.

I get lazy.  I procrastinate.

I don’t like spending the day doing a whole bunch of nothing. It’s a waste of precious retirement time. That’s when I know that I have to motivate myself and get out of a slump. 

I need to make the effort to get started.

Sometimes just sitting in front of the computer and starting to write makes the ideas and the words begin to flow.  The same happens when I pack my gym bag and set out to attend a yoga class or  exercise on the cardio machines or exert myself in the pool.

Once I get started, things happen. By just doing something, I begin to motivate myself. Taking even a small action can motivate.

I need to protect my sleep.

When I don’t have enough sleep,I lose energy during the day. The energy drop often causes me to take a nap instead of writing.  It also leads to nutritional short cuts and high carb/high sugar snacks.

Having a set sleep/wake cycle helps. I naturally wake up at 7:30 am regardless of when I go to bed.  My challenge is to get to bed at a reasonable time so that I sleep 7 or 8 hours before my internal clock wakes me.

I need organized workspace. 

By keeping the house reasonably organized, my desk reasonably clear, and my inbox reasonably empty, tackling various projects is easier.

When I’m not organized I waste time looking for things or putting things into place  or making lists and not accomplishing what I’ve set out to do. I’m not obsessed about cleaning but I don’t function optimally when things around me are untidy.

I need determination.

Sometimes what I’m doing is difficult. I may be unsure of next steps or overwhelmed with the size or complexity of a project I’m trying to accomplish. I get confused. I worry about failing,

When obstacles cause motivation to wane, grit and determination are needed.  It’s tempting to quit or to spend my time doing an easier task. Suddenly doing the laundry seems easier than finishing research for a blog post or struggling to use new technology.

Sometimes I need a change of pace.

While persistence helps when feeling stumped,  sometimes a change of pace will get you back on track.

Going outdoors, making a cup of coffee, or taking an exercise break help me to re-focus. Even when the weather is inclement, taking a short walk outdoors changes my level of motivation. Physical activity clears the brain and caffeine re-charges it.

I try to stay positive and confident.  

During the past two weeks I’ve spent many hours knitting a baby afghan.  I started the project with excitement about the soft wool, the colours, and the pattern.

When the project was halfway to  completion I began to despair. I was unsure that I would finish it in time for the baby shower last weekend. I ran out of one colour of wool which meant a trip to the yarn store. I stayed up late, cancelled going to the gym,  cancelled attending my weekly bridge game — all to knit furiously.

The excitement waned. Yet, I stayed with it, positive that this would please a young mom whose career allows no time for handmade baby items.  I was tired but happy when I finished the afghan.  Visions of a new baby who will be warmed and comforted in the pretty afghan kept me going.

The Sweet Feelings of Success

Whether it’s finishing a big project like a knitted afghan or a smaller task like de-cluttering a closet, completion brings a sense of accomplishment.

Feelings of productivity and happiness result.  Those sweet feelings of success mean it’s time to goof off, to take a nap, or to waste a little time online without guilt.





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