“We’re not sure what we can do,” the cardiologist explained to my Mom and Dad as we sat in his office hoping for a second opinion that was, well, more hopeful.
What you need to know is that my Dad has ten stents in his heart. Yep, he’s going for a record. This guy is bionic man for sure. But when he had yet another blockage, this time at 100%, his doctor sent him on to discuss open heart surgery.
Of course, no one wants to have open heart surgery. But when it’s your chance to live, then it’s what you take. But he was telling us that open heart surgery was no longer an option. He was however, willing to discuss other procedures with his team and see what they might come up with.
Skipping to the good stuff, they were able to try a relatively new and riskier procedure on him that made it through the 100% blockage, giving him the ability to gain his 11th stent. I told you this guy was tough! The surgeon was amazing and God is good!
During all of this, I was juggling closing loans at the bank, serving my coaching clients in my leadership coaching business, and developing content for a new course. Needless to say, I was spent, both physically and mentally.
One day I was feeling particularly stressed and completely lacking in motivation. But I had a client to see soon, so I knew I needed to get it together. And even though I didn’t want to in that moment, I knew I could.
Because you see, I’ve been here before.
- I know what it’s like to feel defeated, depressed, and discouraged.
- I know what it feels like to have NO motivation for the task you’re about to do, even when it’s something you typically love.
- I know what it’s like to feel like the only thing you want to do is get back in bed and sleep for days.
Because I’ve been here before with my own health and setbacks, I also know how to quickly change my state, even if just for the time being, so I can get a job done. We all have situations and hard times to deal with. But part of the process is figuring out how to continue on in the face of an obstacle.
So here’s what to do when you’ve lost your motivation:
1) Phone a friend. Sometimes just taking a couple of minutes to let it out can release the tension you’re holding on to. Be sure you’re calling someone who lifts you up. Because then, when you’re done with your venting, a good friend will help you find the next step for today.
It’s not a life plan. It’s not ignoring your problem and pretending it doesn’t exist. It’s just a new perspective for today. Something you can do to lift your mood.
2) Change your state. Not as in drive from Oklahoma to Texas. But change your mental state by changing your physical state. There are many ways to do this. You could take a quick walk outside, notice the wind on your face, meditate, laugh out loud, smile, or change your posture from slumped to upright, shoulders back.
When I called my friend on this occasion, she told me put on my favorite song and dance it out. Brilliant! I love music and I love to dance! It is scientifically proven to lift your mood. Not only dancing, but physical movement in general can completely change your physiology, which will lift your thoughts and your mood.
As scientific proof, just watch Meredith and cast on Grey's Anatomy as they dance out their troubles. Hey, if it’s on a medical show, it’s got to be correct, yes? ;)
3) Decide to worry later. This one is strange, I know. But I learned it from a therapist years ago and it’s so helpful. You are not stuffing the emotions down, pretending they don’t exist. It’s ok to be scared, angry, or worried. But sometimes those emotions don’t serve you presently.
So when a worrisome thought keeps persisting, I’ll imagine myself putting that thought in a box, putting it on the shelf, and deciding on a time that’s better to worry. Say, after work at 5:00, right? When the time comes, I’ll do what I need to do to process that worry. It may be writing out those feelings in a journal, praying about it, calling a friend, or scheduling time with a therapist.
4) Practice self-care. I say practice, because that’s really what it is, a practice. You will need to find out what is helpful to you. But the main one I suggest is sleep. Almost anything will improve with a good night’s sleep. Your ability to deal with major challenges will improve significantly when you’ve had sufficient rest. Pop in a quick 15 minute siesta over lunch if you have to. Just take care of yourself.
Like the flight attendants tell us before every flight, put on your oxygen mask before you help those around you. In the same way, be sure you are filling up your own tank before you try to serve anyone else.
Some of my favorite self-care practices include yoga, meditation, naps, massage, walks outdoors, float therapy, and hyperbaric chamber sessions. Do what replenishes you and you’ll be able to face your day and your situation with more peace and clarity.
As much as we would like to stay motivated all the time, it’s just not realistic. Life happens. Unexpected detours happen. Discouragement happens. But with mindfulness and intentionality, you can develop strategies to get back on track quicker and find your motivation again.