Last week was one of those weeks where I fell all the way off. I just could not motivate myself to do the things I needed to do!
I didn’t get any blog posts published, I ate pretty terribly, and my workouts were only so-so last week. What was unusual, however, was that I could tell I wasn’t dealing with one of my typical battles with procrastination. When I procrastinate, I do everything other the sun to avoid doing what I need to do but that wasn’t the case last week. I actually attempted several times to sit down and write something interesting for the blog, or cook a healthy meal, or plan an intense workout but every time I did, I would literally draw a blank. Last week, I couldn’t come up with anything to save my life!
I would just sit there and stare at my computer screen waiting for the words to flow but nothing came. I leafed through all my cookbooks and looked up recipes online but I couldn’t motivate myself to cook anything I saw. I tried to brainstorm new workouts but when I got to the gym, I would just spend a lackluster 20 minutes haphazardly jogging on the treadmill. Last week, when it came to making any progress on any of my major life goals, I was both overwhelmed and uninspired.
Yours truly had fallen into a big ugly rut.
Why We Get into Ruts
For some, a rut might be brought on after facing a major crisis. After spending all your energy to deal with an unexpected life challenge, you may find it hard to motivate yourself toward anything else, even though you still desire to reach your hopes and dreams.
For others, a rut comes about after repeatedly failing or getting rejected. Maybe your family doesn’t support your ambition or maybe you’ve been after your goals for years but haven’t yet been able to make it happen. After failing into negative thinking because of your past or what others say, it suddenly becomes very difficult to do what you have to do to achieve your goals.
For me, I knew I had to ignore my urge to Google “how to get out of a rut” and actually listen to my intuition to figure out why I was in a rut. After sitting silently and thinking about what brought me to this lackluster place, I realized that I simply felt disconnected. I had a lot of things on my to-do list but there was a little voice in the back of my head asking “Why am I doing all this again? And am I sure these are the right things to be doing?” In short, I felt separated from the “why” and “what” behind my goals.
The Two Keys to Staying Motivated
Since deciding that I want to coach other women, I have been reading an insane number of books all about how to motivate yourself, have more willpower, and achieve goals. One I finished recently that I really enjoyed is Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.
I like this book because she’s not simply giving her opinion on what she thinks are the best ways to reach goals — her observations come from real-life scientific and psychological research, some of which she conducted herself. What she discovered that ultimately helped me get out of my rut when I applied it to my life is that there are two factors that increase our motivation to achieving our goals — knowing your “why” and knowing your “what”.
Know Your “Why”…and the “What”!
Halvorson explains that there are two ways to look at any goal — via a “why” perspective or a “what” perspective. In the book, she uses the example of vacuuming the floor. A person can see the task of vacuuming as “keeping my house clean and stress-free” (why perspective) or a more literal “sucking up crumbs from the floor” (what perspective).
A why perspective helps us focus on the big picture whereas a what perspective helps us focus on the actual process of getting the job done. While knowing both are critical to staying motivated towards your goal, we all tend to have a bias towards one or the other. The studies explained in the book show that different situations can cause us to lose sight of either our why or our what, which in turn can hinder our motivation for going after our goal.
How I Re-Motivated Myself
In my case, I realized I felt disconnected from both my why and my what. I lost sight of my why because I was “in the weeds” focusing on all the little tasks I had to get done, forgetting how they related to my big picture. I lost sight of my what because I had a nagging feeling that I might not be doing the right things, the things that are directly related to me accomplishing my goal.
So, I called a time-out on myself and spent a good 15 minutes rewriting my goals and hashing out both my why and my what. I kid you not, my mind felt so free and clear once I did that! It was like all the subconscious confusion melted away, leaving behind a clear road-map of what I needed to do and why I needed to do it.
How to Motivate Yourself
Because I know you may struggle with getting into ruts from time to time, I’ve created a free, printable worksheet for you so you can keep your goals, whats, and whys close at hand at all times.
Here’s how to use it:
First, write whatever goal you have in big bold print at the top of the worksheet. I encourage you to print multiple sheets of this worksheet and use it for all your major goals. You can use this for fitness goals, diet goals, money goals, whatever!
Above, I’ve filled in my current major goal for Think & Grow Chick — “Turn blog into a business that earns [my current income from my job] per year via information products, coaching, public speaking, and events.” Things to note: this is not my ultimate goal for TGC (the skies the limit!) but this is the first major milestone I want to reach with it. Just write down the first major milestone for your goal that want to reach, such as “lose 20 pounds” or “have $1,000 in savings”.
Lastly, write down the top three immediate steps, given where you are currently in relation to your goal, that you need to do in order to move yourself forward. These are the “whats” you should now be focusing on above all else.
The beauty of this “why-what” motivational system is that you can focus on one perspective more than the other depending on what you are experiencing as you work towards your goal. For instance:
- If you are prone to procrastination and “dreaming” all day, focus more on your what list as it will force you to think about action steps.
- If your goal kinda scares you because your next steps are pretty daunting, focus on your why list, as it will encourage you to keep on going in spite of your fear.
Download the Worksheet!
Click the image below to download the worksheet and try it for yourself!
Try the worksheet out for yourself and let me know what you think by posting on twitter or instagram with the hashtag #thinkandgrowchick! Share it with your friends and anyone who could use a motivational boost!
Talk to Me:
Have you ever been in a rut? What strategies do you use to get yourself out? Share in the comments!