Motivation has always been an elusive thing for many of us, whether it comes to the gym or simply life in general. However, it’s not an understatement to say our motivation levels are threatened more today than ever before.
We are disconnected from people, experiences, and everything that makes us feel whole. On the other hand, we are overly connected to technology and the dark places our minds wallow in. We’re not sure how long this will continue to go on for, when it will get better, or if it will get worse in ways we don’t expect.
This isn’t to be pessimistic about the situation by any means. In fact, our aim is the opposite. It’s important to simply acknowledge the reality that many of us are coping with right now.
The first step with any issue is to first put a name on it.
The second step is to list possible solutions.
And that’s the goal of today’s post.
Today we talk about how you can keep your motivation levels up without the false rah-rah type of motivation that might do you more harm than good.
Here are 8 tips to navigate low motivation levels and get back on track today.
1. Recalibrate What “Motivated” Means to You
First things first, we have to redefine what it means to recapture our lost sense of motivation. Maybe before we were quarantined, we were going to the gym six days a week, for two hours at a time, and we were happily scarfing down chicken breast and broccoli three times a day.
If you’re looking for that degree of motivation, chances are you won’t get that back anytime soon.
Because today, we are operating in a different and more challenging environment. One that poses more threats to our mental stability and resilience than before when things were “normal.”
However, that’s not something to lament. It’s simply something to understand as you move forward.
Now, what are some standards that will tell you your motivation levels have returned? Here are two:
- You follow your daily routine
- You complete your daily checklist (two different things – more below)
After all, we worry most about our motivation levels when we aren’t able to perform basic tasks, whether those tasks are at work, home, or otherwise. So by following your daily routine and checklist, your motivation is back up where it needs to be. You are back to being a normal (ish) human being! Otherwise, if your motivation was still suffering, you wouldn’t have been able to do much of anything.
So we will take the completion of your daily routine and checklist as a sign that motivation is back to normal.
2. Daily Quarantine Routine or “Quaroutine”
For people who are familiar with bouts of isolation, such as submariners or astronauts, one of the main tools they say helps them the most is a routine.
It sounds mundane, but mundane times call for mundane measures.
Your daily quarantine routine must be simple and easy to follow. Here are the things that must be included:
- Wake up time
- Work time
- Health time
- Relax time
- Eat time
- Sleep time
There are many great suggestions of things to add to this list, but again, the goal here is not to set unachievable goals during an already demanding time.
The goal is to set things that will keep our energy levels high, take care of our health, and give us a sense of empowerment from being able to perform the task at hand.
3. Daily Checklist
Your daily checklist is slightly different from your daily routine in the sense that you have a list of things you must get done every day, whenever you are able to accomplish them.
Your daily routine structures your day, while your daily checklist makes sure you’re doing the right things throughout your day.
Some more perfectionist types may create a daily routine that includes their daily checklist, and that works just as well! The goal here, again, is to create something that is going to take care of your mental and physical state. If you create a routine that is too jam-packed with things and is hard to follow, your mental state will suffer when you realize you can’t keep up.
Give yourself a break and make your checklist and routine as simple as possible. Here’s an idea of a daily checklist.
Look familiar? If you’re participating in our QuaranTEAM Games challenge happening right now, this is probably similar if not identical to your daily checklist!
4. Action Comes Before Motivation
Maybe when we’re back to normal, we can all sit around at happy hour and discuss at length which comes first: motivation or action. However, for the sake of this article, we’re going to answer that for you: action.
Oftentimes, we wait for motivation to strike, like a lightning bolt, before we decide we can finally take action, but that’s not how anyone get anything accomplished, certainly not in the long-term.
Staying at home and waiting on the decisions of the government has put us in a position of disempowerment, where we are waiting for answers. We are waiting for decision to be made on our behalf. We are waiting for motivation.
There’s no doubt that there is a lot that you simply cannot do right now (i.e. return to the gym and participate in class), but that doesn’t mean you have to take your foot completely off the pedal.
There are still things you CAN and MUST do to not only regain your sense of motivation but your overall hope and zest for life.
Look at your routine & checklist and decide what you can do RIGHT NOW. And do it. Is it participating in the gym’s burpee challenge? So do five burpees, RIGHT NOW.
That’s it. Are you going to PR your back squat by doing five burpees or save the world from coronavirus?
Hardly. But you will be saving yourself. Incrementally.
This situation is just like any miserable WOD you’ve suffered through at the gym before, so I know you can do it now. Take your routine and checklist and follow what you have on there one very small step at a time.
Remember: One rep at a time.
5. Workout Regularly
Seriously, what type of gym would we be if we didn’t include a section on working out in a post discussing motivation?
Yes, working out falls under the daily checklist we already mentioned, but it’s worth highlighting what a massive boost working out can do to lagging motivation levels – even more than drinking 64 oz of water!
Whether you work out for five minutes a day or 50, here are the amazing benefits you can get from working out consistently throughout the week. And remember, it’s just about setting a schedule and sticking to it – not being overly ambitious and burning out later on!
- Gives you a sense of empowerment
- Staves off boredom
- Boosts your immune system (making you more resistant to COVID-19)
- Gets your body to release endorphins (helping you ward off depression)
- Allows you to handle stress better
Remember, the goal isn’t to feel MOTIVATED and AMAZING all the time. The goal is to simply prevent yourself from falling over the edge in times like these. That’s a dark distinction, but it’s true for many people.
So when you’re slogging through a work out and just not feeling it, just know that even when you’re not “feeling it,” just completing it and following through on a commitment to yourself will make you feel infinitely better than if you never did.
6. Enlist Help
Find a friend or family member to be an “accountability buddy” to hold you accountable to the tasks you’ve outlined in your checklist.
If you’re doing the QuaranTEAM Games challenge, you already have 25 people on your team who are all your accountability buddies! Lean on those people during this time.
It might sound awfully cheesy and even dreadful, but if someone asking you every day “Did you eat 2 servings of fruit or vegetables today?” is enough to get you to make sure you order spinach as a topping on your pizza, that’s a win.
Remember, even if it doesn’t seem like it: Every little bit counts.
7. Help Someone
Hopefully if you have an accountability buddy, you’re helping to hold them accountable. This is an easy way to help someone else.
However, if you don’t, consider ways you can give back and help others during this time.
Because what helps people get through uncertain, trying times like these the most is a sense of purpose that is gained from serving other people.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, psychologist Viktor Frankl describes his experience in Auschwitz. He found that those who survived longest were those who retained a sense of control over their environment and chose how to cope with their suffering. Meaning can be found through:
Consider what skills you have, what you’re able to do right now at home, and what groups of people you’re part of who could use your help.
- Are you a crafty person? Maybe you can create cool masks to give to your friends and family.
- Do you workout every day and enjoy it? Maybe you can inspire your co-workers to start working out.
- Do you have time? There are opportunities to volunteer in the community.
These are just a few ideas, but you get the point!
8. Consider the Worst-Case Scenario
Conduct a quick thought experiment and allow yourself to consider the worst-case scenario.
Let’s say six months from now, you were still in quarantine.
I hope just as much as you do that this is NOT the case, but bear with me.
If you knew that 6 months from now, you’d still be in quarantine, what changes would you make today to set yourself up for it today and for the next several months?
Would you finally start that blog?
Would you finally buy a gardening kit and see what you could grow at home?
Would you schedule Zoom calls with your parents more often?
Whatever it is you would do if quarantine was a longer-term way of life is EXACTLY what you should be doing TODAY to regain your joy for life, and in turn, your motivation.
If you find yourself “waiting” for things to get back to normal, you’re living in the future and neglecting to take control of what you can right here, right now.
We want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below what’s helped you most during quarantine in keeping your spirits and motivation high. We can all learn from each other.