- Education and Science
How to Stay Motivated When You're Barely Hanging On
The shrill sound of the heart monitor sends everyone in the room to action: "Patient is crashing! Get me the paddles! Clear! " Zap!...."Again, clear! " Zap! "He's not responding. Listen! You can't give up on me now! You are going to live! Clear! Zap! I have a pulse!"
You know this scene. In the medical dramas this happens when the heart's electrical pulse is either uneven or stopped altogether and a stiff electric shock to the chest is used to reset the rhythm.
When a person's motivation is erratic or gone entirely, there are no shrill monitors, no rushing around of caretakers and physicians. In fact, there is apt to be silence and solitude where everything slows down or stops completely and despair and hopelessness takes over.The good news is there are some key principles to help you know what to avoid and some helps to keep your motivation strong.
Motivation is tricky. The loss of a job, a battle with addiction or problems in a relationship can trigger a gradual onset of sagging spirits, loss of drive, discouragement, distraction, low energy and self-doubt. Even if you fight your way back up, the lack of a plan or structure can allow you to be caught in a downward spiral that is fed by increasing self-doubt and failures. If you don't stop the negative thoughts in your mind, you can find yourself on a journey that leads to an incapacitating fear, a complete loss of confidence and a total shutdown of the will to try--motivation failure.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
When I feel like I need a ladder to reach rock bottom, I look around for any thread of positive momentum, to help get me back on the road to recovery and for me, that thread begins in my mind.
It is common sense that if you plant a carrot seed, you will grow and harvest--you guessed it--carrots. Not tomatoes, potatoes or lima beans--hence the saying: "Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap." A current movement called The Secret, is based on this obvious not-so-secret principle. If you think positively, positive things happen to you and if you think negatively, negative things will happen to you. This was the basis of the books: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Motivation is no different. The difference between a motivated, successful leader and a fearful, isolated failure is in how they apply this simple principle of sowing and reaping. The leader, from his reservoir of positive beliefs about himself and life, sows positive thoughts and actions while the failure, out of his reservoir of negative beliefs about himself and life sows negative ones.
If you believe that things in your life have a purpose and that events will somehow work themselves out for your good, you will find, more often than not, that your mind and life works in your favor. If, on the other hand, you believe "whatever can go wrong will go wrong," you will find you are in the middle of a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Henry Ford put it: "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
You are a valuable, worthy person with a unique set of gifts and abilities and your purpose is to use those gifts and abilities as often and as productively as you can. When you begin to realize this, your mind starts to figure out ways to make it happen. You begin to see opportunities that you never saw before and you see people, for the first time, as willing partners, wanting to help you succeed.
Failure can be your friend
Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.~ Napoleon Hill
Thomas Edison said of the thousands of failures to find a workable filament for a light bulb that they each were one possibility he didn't have to try again. We learn more from failures than we do from our successes because it is in the mistakes we make that we gain our experience. It is from experience that we attain wisdom.
I like to call learning from failure the "Toddler Principle:" Walk, fall, get up--repeat as necessary ~ Winsome
My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Fear is the only thing you need to fear
Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. ~ Author Unknown
Franklin D. Roosevelt cautioned "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Most of us remember the first part of that quote, but the second part can help us put fear to flight.
Nameless - Give your fears a name. Write them down.
Unreasoning - Make a pros and cons list where "What's the worst scenario?" is the cons and what you still have that you can be grateful for is the pros side.
Unjustified - Often after you have written them down and analyzed your options, you find that your fears are not justified by the facts.
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. ~ Author Unknown
Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small. ~ Ruth Gendler
You are the only one who can write the script of your life
Nothing drains your motivation like lack of confidence and low self-esteem. The opposite is also true, if you believe that you can succeed and that you are a person who is valuable and worthy, you find yourself attempting and expecting great things out of life--and often see them happen!
If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh
How would you feel if every day people came up to you and said: "I value you and I want you to be happy?" MyOwnWorld and Sage Williams, two of the more gracious writers on hubpages, always leave you feeling as if you were able to do anything by the affirming and valuing comments they leave on your articles.
While others can make a difference, the voice that you listen to more than any other, and rightly so, is your own. If you believe that everyone has their own unique gifts and have a contribution to make in the world, why not believe that for yourself. Every morning when you look at yourself in the mirror, say to yourself: "I value you and I want you to be happy. This day is the best day of your life and whatever you need to do, you can do it."
Every night write down the good things that happened that day and also everything that comes to your mind that you can be grateful for--health, children, freedom etc. When you wake up, look at the list.
Things start to look up when that's the direction you're looking
Direction--Some times, your motivation is low because you do not have anything that you feel really passionate about. Spend some time thinking about what activities make you happy. Find out what you really love and move in that direction. You wouldn't think of taking a complicated trip in your car without at least looking at a map to keep you on course. Your life deserves at least as much. What is the purpose of your life? If you were to give your life a mission statement, what would it be?
Focus--Motivation ebbs when we are not focused on a goal. Write down what is important to you--your passions, your obligations, your ambitions, your concerns. Prioritize them and rewrite them as goals. Break them down into long term and short term goals. Make sure that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable , Achievable ,
Realistic, Timely. In other words, make a list you can understand and actually do. If you find yourself bogged down with non-productive activities, limit yourself to those which produce results and actually improve your bottom line.
Action--The next step is as effective as the shock paddles in the emergency room. Pick an easy goal and start to do it immediately. As you begin to have some successes, you build motivation momentum. One of my favorite words is inertia. Simply defined it has dual meanings: The tendency of an object at rest to remain at rest. (Couch potato comes to mind) It also means:The tendency of an object in motion to remain in motion.
Nothing gets you into motion better than simply starting. Make your list. Make them achievable. Start small, but start. Start with something challenging that you like to do. If you are having a hard time with some responsibility or task, pick a similar task, but one you enjoy to get started.
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. ~ Anonymous
Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr
Just as in real life we carry around an emergency kit, when you are going through a period of increased risk of motivation failure, it is important to have some tools to ward off attacks.
some wise and inspirational sayings to repeat to yourself when doubt
Antibiotics--Surround yourself with inspiring
ideas, people, knowledge and environments. Find what you love and spend
more time doing it.
Caregivers--Those who genuinely care for and encourage you. Challenge yourself and others.
a habit of speaking and thinking positively. Be consistent.
Reference--Learn from your own and others' life successes and failures.
Attempt and expect great things.
Have a plan and practice every day with small steps leading to your goal. Several times a day, say to yourself: "This is the best day of my life. I can't go back and change the past and I can't reach into tomorrow, this day is the only one I will ever have and it deserves my very best."
Congratulate yourself, you have succeeded in beating the doldrums and now take a break and watch the spoof on great motivational speeches from your favorite movies below.
What motivates you the best?
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