Igniting the Spark
Getting motivated to make change happen.
Posted Aug 11, 2017
The problem with being stuck in a rut is, well, you’re stuck in a rut. The more stuck you are, the deeper the groove of the rut and the more likely you will find a comfortable place in it. It’s a vicious cycle where the comfort grows to stay put, but the agitation grows from knowing you really ought to do something. This could be getting out of a bad relationship, moving from an abusive boss or a degrading job, reconciling with friends or family members, getting on a diet and exercise program once and for all, or pursuing the hobby or passion you’ve talked about for years.
The years can roll on and you wake up each day thinking “This is the day” but then just outside your bedroom door lies the rut. You might trip into it on your way out to start your day, and it follows you around and grows deeper with every hour you don’t make the change you want to.
If you are like most people, the cycle continues whereby you beat up on yourself for not taking the right steps, and start using negative self-talk like “I’ll never,” “I can’t,” and “I’m a failure.” And this serves to keep you firmly cemented in that rut without the motivation or energy to do anything new. Science has proven that there are physiological changes which happen when we move out of a stasis and into something new, and this can cause us to pause and freeze because the changes mean a number of real shifts are happening internally too—so it’s not just the external experiences that cause a reaction, but the internal ones, too. You might want to learn more about how your brain works and the different facets, to understand ways you can leverage your natural abilities to your advantage!
While your brain is building up additional Dopamine to help you with focus and attention, there are some physical, external steps you can take to ignite that spark even when you are in the rut and may lack the oomph needed to get moving. Please keep in mind that if you are severely depressed, or unable to take steps due to overwhelming anxiety, you should consult a mental health professional right away. There are conditions that may require medication or therapy, and many people benefit from this type of support.
But if you are someone who knows you can do it, you just aren’t doing it, and you need to get that motivation and commitment going to take the steps you need, here are some things to do to get you back on track.
- Before you go to bed at night, create the plan for the next day. Most people run around all day thinking about what they want to do. They might watch a little TV, or read, or simply fall into bed exhausted. Instead, take the time to plan and schedule just one thing you will do the next day to move you closer to your goal. Set a specific step, a time, and a commitment in writing, and place it somewhere you will see it first thing in the morning. As an added step, put the commitment in your calendar so it pops up on your phone or computer the next day.
- Schedule time to paint a picture of what you are trying to accomplish. You don’t need to use real paint; you could cut out pictures from a magazine, you could draw the outcome, you could simply make bullet points or write paragraphs about what you are aiming at. Take the time to create something visual you can refer back to and post it in an obvious place so you are drawn to look at it from time to time. It doesn’t have to be your best work of writing or art; it just has to be something meaningful you can connect to.
- Chunk it down. The biggest reason most people lose their urge to make change happen is that it can seem overwhelming. Move to a new town? Find a new job? Lose 30 pounds? Where do you even start? And that’s the beauty of chunking. Take a look at all of the things you will need to do on your journey to where you want to go, and chunk them down into discrete, easy-to-accomplish steps. If you can just make a little progress each day, it adds up to a lot of progress over time.
- Do something that makes you happy and gets you going: Play a favorite song. Take a nice hot shower. Go for a walk in the woods. Whatever it is that excites and uplifts you, do it! Once you finish whatever it is, that’s the time to turn your attention to taking one of the steps you need to take to begin your journey.
- Remember that it IS a journey, not a destination. Yes, you have a goal you want to accomplish, but you will learn and grow along the way. Sometimes the process itself is the best experience, so don’t stay so focused on the end goal that you miss the opportunity to enjoy the steps you take. Celebrate each and every step you take to keep your motivation up, too.