Ask Keri: How do you get motivated when you’re in a slump?
Keri Says: Motivation is different for everyone. However, over the years I’ve learned a lot about the kinds of things that can help you get motivated by figuring out what works for me and what has really worked for my many clients.
One thing that we all seem to have in common is that it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t occasionally find themselves in a funk. When you feel a little down for whatever reason—maybe it’s an argument with a parent or you got some bad news at work or you overate and just feel yucky—it can trigger that feeling where you don’t feel like doing anything. So you sit down on the couch and scroll through Insta for two hours. Or you binge watch Handmaid’s Tale, which makes you feel worse. (Of course there are plenty of situations in which plowing through a few episodes is totally good for you. Like, hey, you ran a 10K and happen to need the rest, right?)
There’s also the more long-term motivation ruts. Maybe you had a baby and haven’t worked out in a year and the thought of that first sweat session is just too daunting. Or you’ve had a brilliant business idea but can’t get into the mode where you actually move it forward.
The funny thing is that whether you’re trying to motivate yourself around a food, fitness, or business (or any other kind of) goal, the strategies that work to get you moving seem to be the same. Essentially, you need to somehow tap into that feeling where you just feel excited to do something. You know, where getting sh*t done feels exhilarating.
It’s no wonder that happiness is linked to productivity. It’s hard to be motivated when you’ve got the blues. Here are a few of my time-tested tips on how to get going and simply get started. Hopefully, if you can make that happen, the positive outlook that then keeps propelling you forward will follow.
5 Tips to Get Motivated
1. Do ONE easy thing that makes you feel good
In those unmotivated moments, doing one thing that’s easy and makes you feel good can change the entire situation. You tackle that simple task and then you feel motivated and accomplished. It can give you enough of a little boost to help move you forward. So then you think you want to work out, then that snowballs into having more energy and then you feel like getting some work done. I joke about this a lot, but for me, personally, that thing can literally be cleaning out my sock drawer. Cleaning and organizing just always makes me feel good, in general, and tidying a drawer is enough to shift my mindset.
This could even be a self-care task like a short meditation or a 10-minute sauna session to get you in the mood to work out. While you won’t be necessarily checking things off your to-do list, you’re still doing something productive for yourself.
2. Make a laundry list and then shift what’s at the top
Sometimes the thing that’s keeping you from acting is that it feels like there’s just too much to do. That feeling can be paralyzing. To combat it, make a laundry list of everything you want to get done. Then, look at that list and move three to five things you can move on right away to the top. These are the things you can bang out quickly that will create the momentum needed to keep you moving towards the bigger goals. If you’re working on expanding your online presence as a wellness expert, for example, don’t put “total website update” at the top. That’s going to take months and you don’t want to get tripped up. Put “one Instagram post a day” at the top. That you can literally begin in the moment and then check off. Voila, you’re on your way!
3. Schedule and plan
I can’t stress the impact of momentum enough. Another way to build it and keep it going is consistency. I was recently talking to a Nutritious Life Certified alum who is trying to figure out her next steps in terms of creating a business while also balancing taking care of her kids at home. I suggested she schedule in half an hour each day to do research on what else is out there in her space. Then, after a week of doing that, decide what the next task should be to act on that research and schedule in half an hour daily to work on that task. If you execute at least one task on a daily basis, you’ll start to feel consistent movement and it will be easier to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
4. Set realistic goals
I’m all about thinking big. When you’re setting goals, think about what the end result looks like without any limitations, if you didn’t have to think about time, money, or any other real-life constraints. That’s the first step. Then, once you’ve got that in your mind, you’ve got to take into account those constraints and set smaller goals that are doable, in service of that big picture. For instance, if you’re trying to get back to your workout routine after having a baby, maybe your ideal is to be back in the shape you were before pregnancy, when you were knocking out boxing classes four times a week. If you try to go do that when you’re not ready, that’s going to discourage you. But if you commit to walking 45 minutes three times a week until you feel ready to run, and then so on and so forth until you’re back to boxing, you’ll get going. Even if they’re really small in the beginning, you have to make goals doable. That builds the momentum.
5. Find your motivational anthem
This is a fun one. How many times have you been in a slump and had your spirits lifted by a song you love? Research shows fast-paced music can help exercisers work out harder and that music can boost mood. Only you know which songs really get you going, so make a Spotify playlist with your favorites. Then, it’ll be ready whenever you need to shift into super-happy-conquer-the-world mode.