So many people have told me recently that they are feeling unmotivated. And, I get it.
We are living in unprecedented times. Covid19 has reduced our freedom of movement, changed how we socialise, altered our working lives, changed how we school our children, and at this stage, we don’t know if or when normality will return. In essence, we are living a new normal; however, this new normal brings a lot of uncertainty, stress and anxiety.
Overnight our daily structures and goals went into disarray, and this has led many of us to have days and weeks of feeling “up and down”. One day we may feel great and purposeful to only a few short days later, a feeling of melancholy creeps in, leading us to think what is the point? The up and down feeling produced by not knowing what the future will look like has caused many of us to feel unmotivated. Combine this feeling with the distractions that we are surrounded with at home, where many of us are now working, and a double whammy hits our motivation.
So, what immediate steps can we take to renew our vigour, navigate a new direction & get motivated again?
COMMIT TO CHANGE
The first step is committing to ourselves that we are no longer satisfied with feeling up and down, stagnating and feeling stuck in a rut.
This may sound easy; however, it’s not – because when we have no energy and are feeling unmotivated, our initial commitment may only last 5 minutes until the next distraction or feeling of hopelessness creeps up into our psyche.
To mitigate this, we need to hold ourselves accountable for the changes we want to make. And one of the best and easiest ways to do this is by creating a commitment pledge of what we intend to do which affirms and reaffirms our commitment to change.
Write out a commitment pledge and put it in your wallet, on your wall or somewhere that you can see it often.
Refer to the below examples of commitment pledges:
I am committed to refraining from what does not serve me.
I am committed to not watching the news or viewing social media.
I am committed to eating healthily and exercising.
I am committed to getting 8 hours of sleep each night.
I am committed to establishing a daily routine.
Read the commitment pledge to yourself 3 x a day; once on rising, once in the afternoon and once again before going to bed. Alternatively, read the pledge into a voice recorder and listen to it 3 x a day. Set a timer to go off throughout the day to remind you to read or listen to your pledge.
The act of reaffirming your commitment each day re-programs your brain into believing and acting on what you are intending. And, eventually, with time and action, your commitment will become second nature, which will help you to become motivated.
ESTABLISH A DAILY ROUTINE
Without a daily routine, our thoughts of what’s the point can become exacerbated because the lack of structure gives us time to ruminate on what isn’t working in our lives. This then makes it hard for us to get focussed; which causes a lack of motivation and impacts our productivity.
Establish a daily routine by writing down and mapping out a schedule for your day and ensure that you stick to your plan. Some things that you may wish to include in your daily routine are:
Establishing daily routines benefits our health and wellbeing, keeps us focused and productive and helps us to form good habits. This is because having a routine gives us a sense of control which is particularly important during these challenging times.
With all this said, it is essential to remember that contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take 21 days to form a habit (this is a myth) but 66 days according to research conducted by University College London. Therefore, it is essential to give yourself a break if your commitment to the above ebbs and flows initially. With time, eventually, it will get easier, and your motivations will increase.
Have you ever felt, or do you feel stuck in a rut in life, yet at the same time have a fire in your belling telling you that something is missing? That there is more to life than what you are currently living? Yet at the same time, do you feel paralysed from moving forward and making changes?
I am asking you this question because this is a common theme that I hear in my coaching practice. And, because it is such a common topic, I want to address it here.
We can find ourselves falling into a rut for a myriad of reasons which include:
The reasons highlighted in bold were my predilections. And this week, I am going to focus specifically on addressing these issues:
Not feeling good enough & feeling guilty
When I was less than a year old, my parents went through an acrimonious divorce. I was an only child, and like many children of divorce, I felt insecure and torn between both of my parents. I had a deep fear of abandonment as well as fear of not being good enough. The strain of my parents’ divorce was further compounded by the fact that I attended a strict Catholic school, which severely frowned on divorce. Given that I was the only child in the entire school that was a product of divorce, the whole school body took distinct umbrage with my own parent’s divorce. It was the 1970’s, divorce was not common nor accepted within the Catholic faith, and this resulted in my being singled out as being wrong and sinful. The tyrannical school principal had a proclivity for screaming and yelling, and in school assemblies would relentlessly bellow and proclaim that anyone who got a divorce would be sent to hell. I was petrified of the school principal, and I became convinced that alongside my parents, I too would be sent to hell.
The worry of my parent’s divorce as well as attending Catholic school resulted in me living in a continuous state of fear and anxiety which was not helped by the fact that I was a poor performing student. I was a C student pretty much throughout Elementary and Secondary school with the only subject that I excelled at being English. In particular, I was terrible at mathematics, and I considered myself lucky if I obtained a C in the subject; usually, it was a D. I just could not get my head around the topic and really did not care how many marbles Johnny had left when Amy had twenty-three and took nine from Mark while travelling on a train at 160 miles an hour balancing on one leg while wearing blue socks on a Tuesday.
For me, mathematics was like trying to read a foreign language and try as I might, I just could not make sense of it. And because I drew poor grades in school, this perpetuated my anxiety both at home and at school. The schoolteachers required parents to sign all test scores, and with trepidation and fear, I would muster up the courage to show my test scores to my father. He, in turn, would become infuriated and refuse to sign them, to which I would then have to return to school terrified and report that my tests weren’t signed. I would later be reprimanded in front of the class and assigned detention.
And this cycle repeated for years.
As a consequence, I grew up believing that I wasn’t smart or good enough. Furthermore, my parents’ divorce, as well as the distorted messaging I received in school about God, meant that I grew up to become a fearful, people-pleasing kid and then an adult with abandonment issues.
“Everybody is a genius.
Feeling not good enough or smart enough was a narrative that I clung to for years, even when I graduated with honours from college and had huge successes in my previous careers. And this coupled with the guilt that I was raised with (that other people are less fortunate, and therefore I had no right to complain), paralysed me from changing my life, which resulted in me falling into a deep rut.
So how did I begin to crawl out of the rut I found myself in?
I did this by working on gaining awareness and insights into the narrative, negative beliefs and negative self-talk that I used to describe who I was and what I was capable of. And from there I was able to create a new, empowering narrative for myself.
Often we are not entirely aware of what limiting beliefs and negative thoughts we have because we have become so accustomed to saying and believing them. Yet it is imperative to gain an understanding of them because limiting beliefs and negative self-talk hold us back from taking action and making changes in our lives; which can lead us to feeling stuck and in a rut.
We can gain an awareness of these beliefs by honestly asking ourselves and answering the following questions:
Once we gain awareness of our limiting beliefs and how we hold ourselves back, we can begin to build a plan towards moving out of the rut and into a new empowering future.
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I recently had a client* text me and ask for an emergency coaching session about something which he said kept him up at night. Sensing the desperation in his text, I arranged for us to have a call later that afternoon.
When we got on the call, I inquired what was up. He described that his wife had resigned from her job because the extensive hours and stress were making her physically sick. Now, after much deliberation, he had concluded that he was stuck in a rut, hated his job and he too wanted to resign from doing something more meaningful with this life. I queried what he wanted coaching on, assuming that he wished to be coached on if he should resign from his job; however, this wasn’t the case. He had pretty much already made up his mind on what he was going to do – he was going to resign. What he wanted coaching on was fear.
He inquired, “How do you make the fear go away so that you can do what you know you should do (i.e. quit said job)?”
My response, “The fear does not go away, you just have to get comfortable with it, and sometimes you just need to take a punt”.
I explained that in my experience, there is never the perfect time to make changes in life, and certainly not in a career. The stars won’t align themselves perfectly for us to pursue our dreams – sometimes we need to rearrange the stars, take a chance and do what our gut tells us to do. And often this courageous act of taking a chance is what will get ourselves out of a rut.
If you find yourself stuck in your career and are not sure how to move forward, here are a few key questions you can ask yourself:
Sometimes getting out of a rut means just taking a chance.**
I checked in on my client a few days later, and he had done it – he had resigned and taken a chance.
* Thank you for the permission received from client X for allowing me to repeat this story.
** I recognise that not everyone has the option to make career changes. Life circumstances and current responsibilities may prevent some people from making changes (at least at present anyway), if that’s the case for you, then remember not to limit the vision you have for yourself based on your current circumstances. Rather than taking a chance, or a big bang approach with your career – ask yourself what small steps you can take each day to empower yourself to make changes in the future.
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