Motivation: The Inner Dialogue You Need to Get Things Done
When motivation is a problem, life can come to a standstill. You may have great ideas and plans floating around in your head--- get in shape, clean out the garage, write a book. But without motivation, you'll never start these goals. Or maybe you'll start, but without staying motivated, you'll never get anything done. In the meantime, the pounds pack on, you can't park your car in the garage, and your best-seller remains just a dream. So how can you get yourself motivated to do what needs to be done? The answer may lie in a few simple words.
The Inner Dialogue of a Doer
Motivation is linked to what you say to yourself in your thoughts. By saying the right things, you can conquer any task. You might be surprised, but to get you started and keep you motivated on anything, all you need is a collection of short, go-to phrases and an awareness of when to use them. It may seem like a simple concept, but it really works!
First, you need a jumpstart phrase that will immediately get you into action. This is just a short phrase that you say to yourself when you need some motivation to get started. This phrase should definitely connect with you, get you energized and make you want to move. When I need motivation, the phrase I say to myself is "just do it" from the Nike ad. Those three words work for me every time. Just this morning I was lying in bed at 6:45 am, thinking of whether or not to go running. "Just do it!" I said to myself. It was enough to get me up and get me out the door. Later, when I thought of writing this article about motivation, I started doubting my topic choice. "Just do it!" I thought and that got me writing. While writing, I looked at my window and saw that it was in dire need of a good cleaning. "I really don't want to have to clean that window," I first thought to myself, but then I immediately switched my thought to "just do it!" and now I know I will clean it some time after my writing is done.
A jumpstart phrase will make you aware of where your energy is going and how you can re-direct it. When I am mentally making excuses to sleep in, for example, those three words make me realize that I could instead be putting on my sneakers. When I'm questioning myself or fearing the opinions or judgments of others, the words "just do it" give me the courage to click the "publish" button. When I'm complaining to myself about what I don't want to do, "just do it" pushes me to just get the task done. When your inner dialogue includes excuses, fear, or complaints, that is the perfect time to try out your own jumpstart phrase. "Just do it" works for me, but you can find the words that work best for you. Phrases like "no better time", "get moving", "go for it" or "get 'er done" are all great possibilities, but anything you can come up with that motivates you will be the perfect choice for you.
If your jumpstart phrase is not enough to keep you going throughout your task, your inner dialogue should then move on to other short phrases you have in your repertoire. I call these next set of phrases "rally words" because they keep me motivated when I feel like giving up. These phrases can help you rally through any task, big or small, short or long-term. They can get you to focus, calm you down, or pump you up, as the case may be. For example, when I want to lose weight, my jump-start phrase of "just do it" helps me get started on my plan. But since it is overwhelming to face losing ten or fifteen or more pounds right off the bat, I try a rally phrase like "just one thing" to help me make small changes toward my goal. By saying "just one thing" to myself, I am reminded to focus on just one change for the day such as not eating at night, fitting in a workout, or skipping dessert. Whatever the change is, I am motivated to do it because I know I am changing "just one thing". This helps break the monumental goal into smaller, attainable steps.
When I am faced with any difficult task, like learning a new skill or doing something out of my comfort zone, I say, "I can do it" or "one step at a time" to myself. These phrases immediately calm me down and help me stay motivated even when I am engulfed by a new experience. The phrases "one step at a time" and "just keep moving" help me through every run I go on and once got me through a half-marathon. Without repeating those words to myself, it would have been easy to give up. My friend who is a fitness buff has a great rally phrase. She says "it'll be fun" whenever she is talking about exercise. Those few words totally change the perspective of a hard workout and really do help motivate me to get through it. What are your "rally words"?
For long-term motivation, I also have what I like to call my "list". These words are from anything you've mentally declared or written down as goals you would like to accomplish. (Writing down your goals is always good motivation!) You can shorten these goals to quick, one-word phrases that will motivate you when you need it most. What is on your "list" of goals? Maybe you want to pay off all your debt. Or wear a bikini on a Hawaiian vacation. Or get your master's degree. When faced with situations that stray from these goals, say to yourself a word from your "list" for motivation. Want to charge a fancy dinner? Say:debt." Tempted by that chocolate cake? Say "Hawaii." Putting off that phone call to that college? Say:"master's". Nothing like a quick reminder of your goal to keep you on the right motivational track! It really does work wonders.
Lastly, in order to stay positive and continually motivated, it's a good idea to have mental "pats on the back" at the ready. When you've done well, don't be afraid to tell yourself! I personally like, "you go girl!", but any phrase that makes you feel good about yourself will do the trick. And remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. For days when you fail to fit in all of your goals, make a mistake, or miss the mark, a phrase like "next time" is one of my favorites. It lets me know I can fix whatever isn't right and motivates me to keep trying. Try and think of what "pats on the back" you'd like to hear to stay motivated.
Great Motivational Reads!
Motivation is within all of us and could be just a few simple words away. Next time you catch yourself complaining about a task or goal, making excuses, or failing to act out of fear, dial into some new dialogue. Find the right words to jumpstart your process and rally yourself through your list of goals. Then pat yourself on the back to keep at it. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish once you put yourself, and your thoughts, to it!