How to make change without motivation
I don’t need to go through the benefits of motivation. We all know how great it feels to feel unstoppable and determined, to move forward with excitement. We use motivation to overcome the drama of our everyday lives that threatens to derail us from our goals.
I also don’t need to tell you how hard it is to maintain motivation, what it feels like to start with pizazz and fizzle out with a sputter.
So I could write about how to get and stay motivated, after all, almost everyone has read some article at one time or another on just that. But getting motivated takes energy and often that is the very thing we lack. Energy is what seems to go down the toilet when motivation fails us.
So what if we could find another approach to finally making those changes that we want to make, an approach that doesn’t take a lot of energy or drive. An approach that doesn’t take inspiration.
What if we just decided to be calm.
Calm doesn’t take inspiration or energy.
Calm is just as effective at overcoming drama.
Calm is something that gets easier and easier with practice.
Calm makes it easy to start, and starting is really the hardest part of any task.
Starting is the antidote to procrastination.
Good news, getting calm is pretty straight forward.
Step 1: Stop.
Put the psychosis on hold.
Stop the spinning. Stop ruminating on all the previous attempts or all the obstacles. Just take a minute and stop. Tell your brain that you are not entertaining drama today. It doesn’t matter that you have tried 20 other diets or that you are too stressed out. It doesn’t matter that you got slammed with an unexpected $900 car repair. Just stop the craziness for a minute to go through the next 4 steps. Trust me, the crazy will be there waiting for you when you want to go back to it.
Step 2: What IS your goal or the result you want?
...and what’s the NEXT STEP that you thought you needed motivation to follow through with?
Step 3: Take a minute and breathe. When we get all worked up we start taking short shallow breaths. We don’t even give our parasympathetic nervous system a chance to help us out. Taking even 5 slow breaths in and exhaling out even more slowly can physiologically induce calm. It’s the “that was easy” button that we all have but forget to use.
Step 4: Go back and do step 3 if you skipped it.
Stop being in a rush to get calm already!
Step 5: Just start your next step toward your desired outcome calmly.
It doesn’t have to be forceful. It doesn’t have to get you all the way over every obstacle. Just start. One trick that can be very helpful is the 5 second rule, outlined in Mel Robbins’ book by the same name. As soon as the time comes to take the step or make the decision, start counting backwards from 5. When you get to zero, move/start/do. As Robbins puts it "If you don't move within five seconds, your brain will kill the idea and you'll talk yourself out of doing it."
The really excellent news is the converse of this is true as well. We can use those 5 seconds to change our lives, to negate the need for motivation to overcome procrastination (hint: this even works for getting out of bed in the morning).
Calm is ALWAYS available to us, even when it’s hard, even when we’re frustrated, even when we are tired or grieving.
Calm soothes all of those feelings and from that place we can move forward. From that place we can let go of motivation and spend that energy planning our next big success.
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