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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

How to Stay Motivated Even Though You Can’t See Yourself Moving Forward

How to Stay Motivated Even Though You Can’t See Yourself Moving Forward

Have you ever tried reaching a goal that was labor and time intensive such as, losing a substantial amount of weight, finishing an educational program, or training for a marathon? If so, you understand the struggle of chasing a long-term goal.

As humans, we are hardwired to seek and engage in activities that provide us instant gratification.

We operate on what psychologists call the ‘pleasure principle’.[1] The pleasure principle is the primary force that compels human beings to seek immediate satisfaction of their needs, wants, and urges. Pursuing long-term goals is particularly difficult because it provides no immediate reward. It places us in a posture of waiting. When gratification is significantly delayed–which is directly opposed to human nature–motivation wanes and effort decreases. In order to win, you must work hard, sacrifice and more importantly–wait.

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Understanding and coping with the inevitable motivational slump that accompanies most substantial achievements is critical to sticking with the process and achieving your goals. According to the University of Scranton, a whopping 92% of people do not fulfill their New Year’s Resolution.[2] There are a variety of reasons we don’t stick with the quest to reach our goals but the common thread underlying why we quit is simply the lack of motivation. Staying motivated is the key to keep you on the path to accomplishing your goal–especially when your progress slows or stalls.

Pursuing a long-term goal is a counter-intuitive endeavor that is directly opposed to our human instincts.

Instead of fighting this process head-on, it’s better to adjust the process to flow in tandem with our urges and natural inclinations. How, you ask?

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It’s actually pretty easy. Below are three simple ways that can help keep you motivated and engaged while pursuing your long-term goals:

1. Always celebrate small wins, no matter how small they are.

Celebrating small wins helps you create your own system of instant gratification. Your brain needs to win. And it needs to win often. The book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work[3] proves how powerful celebrating small victories can be. Authors, Theresa Amabile and Steve Kramer of the Harvard Business Review conducted a study of 238 employees from seven different companies. The study measured the impact that acknowledging small victories has on long-term and sustained success.

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These researchers made a significant discovery. They found that tracking and recognizing efforts of small, daily achievements enhanced workers motivation, increased positive emotions and favorable perceptions of the organization, of their work, and their colleagues. Psychologists have found that any accomplishment–no matter how small–activates the reward circuitry of our brains. When this pathway is opened, key chemicals are released giving us a feeling of achievement and pride.

2. Track your progress, and review every milestone.

Keeping track of your progress is beneficial for several reasons. First, it allows you to see your progress overtime. Second, it allows you to accurately pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. Logging your journey also counters bad habits, slip ups and lack of motivation. Frequent feedback increases your chances of hitting a specific goal and helps keep you on track and adjust when necessary.

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Experts suggest that you find a way to formally track your progress and to set and celebrate small benchmarks. Using free apps such as Coach Me,[4] is an excellent way to track your habits and celebrate change. You may also want to conduct a weekly review[5] to assess where you are and celebrate all of the small wins of the week. Tracking your progress is also a great way to find and mitigate triggers and hindrances that impede your progress.

3. Stop punishing yourself for slip ups and small failures.

We all fail, backslide and lose ground when trying to achieve something great. It is a part of the process. Instead of fixating on your failures, learn from them and hone in on your successes. Learn to forgive yourself, pick yourself up and keep moving forward. So, you ate three donuts for breakfast, woke up late and missed your gym session or failed a test. That one incident does not determine your success–regroup and keep it moving.

Sustaining your mental fortitude and tenacity during a long and arduous process is difficult. Celebrating and leveraging all the things you do well and all of the successes along the way is the key to your success.

Reference

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Last Updated on March 4, 2021

8 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

8 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life. Everyone occasionally feels overwhelmed by expectations, responsibilities, and a lack of time. However, dwelling on feelings of overwhelm and letting them knock you off course can be detrimental to both your mental health and your productivity.

If you find yourself saying “I’m overwhelmed” or feeling stuck with more than you can handle, here are 8 things to keep in mind to help you get through it.

1. These Emotions Are Natural

In the scope of the Earth’s history, human emotions are a fairly recent development. It’s no wonder we haven’t learned to peacefully coexist with them and end up fighting them on a daily basis.

It can often feel like these feelings should be easy to overcome, but feeling overwhelmed is a natural response to having too many things going on at once. It’s your mind’s way of telling you that you need to slow down if you want to live a healthier life.

Recognizing that overwhelm is your body’s way of trying to help you through difficult times can help shift the relationship you have with this emotion. Once you recognize it for what it is and invite it in without fighting it, you can begin to work with it to improve your feelings in a healthy way.

2. It’s a Breakdown of Thoughts, Not of Life

Our minds are powerful things, and feeling overwhelmed can feel like the end of life as we know it. In the book, As a Man ThinkethJames Allen says:

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“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”

We have the power to manage our thoughts, and as a result, manage who we are and who we will grow to be. This involves making our mental and physical health a high priority.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your life isn’t falling apart—your thoughts are.

Take a minute to find and clean out all your self-deprecating, negative emotions and thoughts. As you do this, you will find yourself feeling refreshed and invigorated with renewed energy to take on the world.

3. Things Can Turn Around Quickly

Maybe you’re saying “I’m feeling overwhelmed” as you face a project at work and don’t think you have the energy or time to finish it. You start letting yourself play out every negative scenario resulting from a failed project.

Sitting on the couch and dwelling on these thoughts isn’t going to make anything better. In fact, it usually makes things worse.

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Things seem to fall in place as you chip away at a project and come to realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought. Here’re some tips to get you to start taking action: Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

4. You’ve Felt This Way Before

Think about the last time you felt overwhelmed. How did you overcome it? In the end, was it really as bad as you thought?

If you don’t learn from past experiences, you’ll find yourself suffering from the same problems over and over. Successful people are the ones who understand that every experience, good or bad, is valuable.

Go to a quiet place, and take as long as you need to remember previous times in your life you felt this way and how you overcame it.

5. Your Problems May Not Be as Bad as You Think

The best way to find out how good you actually have it is to take a break from worrying about your own life and do something kind for someone in a worse spot than you.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter or orphanage can help put your problems into perspective, and that tight deadline may not seem so overwhelming. Furthermore, acts of kindness can produce oxytocin, which can help you feel better all around[1]. This is vital when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

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6. It’s Easy to Keep Doing Nothing

Your situation changes quickly when you start doing something, but it’s always easier to continue doing nothing. The mind generally doesn’t react well to change and will do its best to help you keep doing what you’ve been doing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that may mean it tries to make you do nothing.

Those who overcome their struggles quickly are the ones who never give up, even when they feel that all is lost. At times, it might feel like there is nothing you can do, but that is exactly when you need to do something.

How will you ever know for sure there was nothing you could do if you didn’t try? At the very least, you will find personal confidence in knowing that you did everything you could.

Grab the Boost Your Motivation Instantly Worksheet for free now, and find out what you can do immediately to regain your lost motivation and move forward.

7. Gratitude Can Help Immensely

In a world of people obsessed with putting their best self forward, it’s easy to feel like everyone has more than you.

Get that thought out of your head, and remember what you do have. Often, the things you have right now are things you were worried about having in the past. Don’t let an insatiable desire for more blind you from seeing and appreciating everything you have right now.

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Gratitude can combat feelings of overwhelm by bringing you into the present, which will combat worries of the future. Once you’re in the now, you can focus on what you need to do to get past feeling overwhelmed and overcoming the many things coming at you at once.

If you don’t know what to do you’re overwhelmed, take some deep breaths and try to start a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

8. People Want You to Succeed

Remember there are people in your life who want you succeed. Your life touches so many others, and there are people out there rooting for you.

These people are part of your support system, and you can turn to them each time you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can call them for a quick pep talk, invite them out for coffee if you need a break, or even ask them for help with your overwhelming list of things to do.

The Bottom Line

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of life that comes from trying to always take on more than we should. This feeling is difficult to avoid in today’s world, but there are things you can do to reduce those feelings once they do arise. Remember the reminders above whenever you’re not sure how to move forward, and you’ll soon find yourself on the other side.

More on Overcoming Feelings of Overwhelm

Featured photo credit: nikko macaspac via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Cedars Sinai: The Science of Kindness