It is January 22nd. For us Wisconsin residents, today is post-five days of snow followed by seven days of ridiculous, can’t-go-outside cold. But the truth is that the excitement of a new year has passed for most people, no matter if you live in this frozen tundra, or somewhere the sun warms your skin year-round.
Whether you have to knock the icicles off your lashes after a long run or not, the natural dip in excitement can lead into a full on lull in motivation. The word lull even feels slow and lazy…luuuuullllllllll.
The world often tells us that we need to feel motivated to get started. So, when you feel a dip, or lull, in motivation, it can be easy to blame. But, the fact is, my, and your, motivation up until this point was informed through action anyway, even if it feels like the promise of a new year automatically provided all the motivation we need to make it this far.
Basically put, motivation is not a magical thing bestowed onto you on January 1st. The best way to find motivation again is through action.
So, if you feel a pause in the excitement of a new year and your big goals, I have some ideas on how to get back on track.
If you feel that luuuullllllll try these:
- Slow down, pause, and breathe. Awareness is always the first step. Find some quiet time to reflect on what has been in your way. Journal and/or talk with a trusted friend. Could you be self sabotaging? Are you unsure of your why? Do you lack self efficacy? Were you never really invested in this goal in the first place? Or is it just hard and uncomfortable right now?
- Fight the urge to double down on control. Instead, open up to curiosity when you reflect on the above questions. Then, simplify your process. Focus on one thing that you can work toward right now.
- Take action. Even the smallest thing can help spark motivation! Do something that moves you closer to your goal. It might not fill you with inspiration in that moment, but if you keep acting, motivation will likely eventually follow.
- Stop shaming yourself and focus on self-compassion. Note: self compassion is not self-enabling! Be gentle and gracious with where you are today, and then still move forward toward your goals.
- Take it one day at a time. Most resolutions, or big goals, fail because people start to focus too much on the outcome. Your finish line may be far in the future, or possibly so big that it can feel overwhelming. Create some micro goals along the way to gauge progress, but mostly focus on success for the day, hour, or minute you are in.
After you take action and get back on track with your goal process, consider how can you can have less lulls in the future.
A few ideas:
- Memorize this: Action leads to Motivation. Try to stop continually being surprised when you don’t just feel motivated.
- Create solid year-round habits. Restarting is so hard. So, stop completely giving up on goals and habits in certain times of the year. If in endurance athletics, this definitely does not mean that you need to maintain the same volume and intensity of training year-round. (In fact, you shouldn’t!) But, it might mean that instead of a big workout, you move your body in other ways with consistency and intentionality—like walking the dog. Or, you might like to focus on healthy eating, but want to loosen up a bit over the holidays. Avoid taking on a “last supper” mentality—gorging on only unhealthy foods for days, or even weeks, before giving them up entirely. Instead, enjoy more treats alongside nutritious foods. Then, rather than cutting them out entirely, you can cut back, while the nutritious food habits remain.
- Focus on consistency over grandiosity. When making goals, deeply consider your core values and what you sincerely want to change or strive for— not what the world tells you that you should want, or do. Craft a goal that you want to do consistently over making some massive change. And, know why!
- Master one habit before adding another. Yep, I said master. This does not mean it will be, or has to be, perfect. Mastering it means that your brain is more used to doing it than not. Kind of like brushing your teeth.
Lulls will continue to happen, and that’s okay. In fact, sometimes they come at just the right time to spur needed action, and/or reflection. And of course, as always, there is a lot of nuance and layers to individual situation. But, now you have a place to start.
Hopefully I haven’t lulled you to sleep. 😉 This stuff is tough! But, don’t give up just because it is hard. That’s likely why you set the goal anyway.
Keep up the great work. I am in your corner.