Sometimes life is a bummer. It’s true. You’ve got a plan, you’ve got a routine, you’re working towards your goals, but despite the sun shining down and the birds singing, you can only think of cloudy skies and the solemn wail of a death-metal singer at a bad bar mitzvah. In short, life has gotten you down. Which, really, is just part of life. You can’t have the good without the bad, right? What’s important is that you keep keeping on, and hold that motivation clutched tightly to your chest as you whether the storm.
Remember: no death-metal song goes on forever.
Practical Ways to Stay Motivated
The following are ten ways to shake off your funk and stay motivated. You can do any of these to help yourself, but if you do them habitually… even better! As bestselling author Zig Ziglar once said, “Motivation gets you going, and habit gets you there.”
1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, pause, breathe—and smile!
Yes, smile even when you don’t feel like it. Research has found that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, helps to raise your mood. Smiling, even just for the sake of smiling, helps you feel better!
2. Begin each day by mentally listing five things you’re grateful for in life.
This step is as simple as raising a hand and counting to five. You may have a ton of problems, but try thinking of the awesome things you have—like the fact that you’re still breathing!
3. Exercise today—and regularly.
We’ve all heard of “happy hormones,” such as endorphins or serotonin. One of the best ways for our body to produce them is to exercise. Dance, jump, lift weights, shoot some hoops, run an obstacle course, or just run. Move your body until you break a sweat. That’s a sure way to keep pesky feelings of demotivation at bay.
4. Make time each day to do something you enjoy.
Watch a movie or spend time praying or meditating. Perhaps you fancy being by yourself, sipping coffee with a good book surrounded by strangers in a coffee shop. If so, then do that. Be kind to yourself and carve out an hour or two every day for something that energizes you—aside from sleeping, of course.
5. Do volunteer work or help a friend.
Often enough, one of the reasons why we feel so demotivated in life is that we are too focused on ourselves. By doing volunteer work or helping others, you are forced to get out of yourself and to open your eyes to the needs of others. Shift your focus with zeal for helping others and you’ll feel better in no time.
6. Listen to a motivational podcast.
By listening to a person who highlights the positives in life and speaks encouraging thoughts, you can help your mental health a hundredfold. Sure, reading feel-good stories or an uplifting anecdote is great. However, sometimes we just need to hear a motivational speech or an encouraging talk.
7. Keep visual reminders of how blessed you are.
No, I’m not talking about posting paystubs on your refrigerator. Print out happy family photos or your most recent trips out of town with friends. Scribble reassuring quotes or sayings on post-its and plaster them everywhere—on your bathroom mirror, inside your cabinet doors, or even on your car’s dashboard. Then, every time you see them, digest the words or let the images simmer in your mind. Doing so is one of the definite ways to stay motivated in life.
8. Spend time weekly with encouraging people.
Do activities or talk regularly with friends who have a positive outlook on life. The saying, “Birds of a feather flock together” is actually true. Whether we are aware of it or not, we eventually become like the people we hang out with. So hang out with encouraging people if you want to be encouraged and be encouraging yourself.
9. Imagine the end you want to reach or achieve—and carry on.
Keeping the end in mind helps to continue the path you’re on with ease. Remember why you’re on the path in the first place, then think of that whenever you feel tempted to give up. Imagine a marathon runner who’s in the middle of the course. She doesn’t stop. She may slow down, but she keeps running. That’s because she eagerly keeps the end in mind and looks forward to reaching it—even with aching legs.
10. Hope for a better future.
Yup, it’s as simple as that. By just intentionally bringing to mind that there is indeed hope for a better future, you can ignite the embers in your heart to spur you on. In a nutshell, to hope is to live on with motivation.
Motivation: Starts with a Decision and Ends with Habit
Staying motivated despite your circumstances is a choice. Do something that will be your default response when you feel that all-too-familiar feeling of demotivation creeping in. Better yet, choose at least two from the list and do them regularly. Prevention is always better than cure. Feelings come and go—when you decide to stay motivated, you’re one step closer to achieving whatever your goal is in life.
As the OG wellness master Yoda once said to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not. There is no try.”