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Last Updated on March 10, 2021

How to Get Your Life Back on Track When Things Are out of Control

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How to Get Your Life Back on Track When Things Are out of Control

Are you wondering how to get your life back on track? First, you need to ask yourself this question: What is control, and what does it look like to you?

Does it mean having the proper balance between your personal and professional life, or is it more about having the skill to make quick decisions? Control is defined differently by each person, and every once in a while, we let that control slip out of our hands.

Once that control slips, we have two options: to grab hold of it, or completely let go, which then results in a domino effect.

Take Tom as an example of the domino effect.

Tom has a great job and goes to the gym regularly. He eats fairly balanced meals, and although he isn’t strict on his diet, he’s consciously aware of what goes into his body. He has a loving wife at home, and also picked up photography as a hobby outside of his work because his hobby makes him happy.

Now, Tom recently got thrown a project at work, and it has been stressing him out. He’s been taking his lunches at his desk, and it’s usually whatever is on-the-go. He tuned himself out in his social circles, rescheduled his anniversary dinner with his wife, and stopped going to the gym altogether. He tells himself, “I’ll make it up when this is done,” and continues to focus solely on the project at hand.

Months later, Tom has completed his project and is given a well-deserved accolade for his hard work. Although Tom feels accomplished, he feels a disconnect. His social circles have planned a gathering without him, he’s packed on several pounds from neglecting his diet and the gym, and although he makes up the anniversary dinner with his wife, she doesn’t seem genuinely interested anymore.

The moral of this story is that things usually feel out of control when we begin to neglect or ignore the things and people who matter to us, even if it’s temporary. It’s at these times that you may start wondering how to get my life back on track. It’s also about understanding that once you let one thing slide, it’ll become easier to let other things go, which will cause you to feel off balance.

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If this happens, there are things you can do to get back on track, eliminate bad habits, and live your life.

1. Do a Life Audit

Life audits are great to help you start paying attention to different areas of your life – career, intimate relationships, family relationships, emotional well-being, health, finances, spirituality, and creativity. When it comes to getting your life back on track, it’s best to assess where you are at this present moment.

There are many versions of the life audit[1], and it’s about finding a method that works for you. While some may prefer to work on a diagram, which is similarly called the Wheel of Life[2] others would rather answer a list of questions instead. And here at Lifehack, you can take the Life Assessment for free and understand more about your life. Take the assessment now and it’ll give you more clarity across the scales.

Wheel of Life Exercise

    When things are beginning to feel out of control, it’s usually a sign from the universe that you must check-in with yourself in order to get back on track. Sometimes, when life takes over and the busyness sets in, we neglect important and vital areas that cause us to sacrifice our health and overcompensate our time and energy in relationships and things that aren’t serving us.

    The first step is to check in and see how happy you are in these major life areas if you want to learn how to get your life back on track. Successful people are those who can be honest with themselves about which areas of their life need the most work.

    2. Regain Your Confidence

    Confidence is the root to how you show up every day and into the long-term. Showing up is more than getting up and going to work; it’s about showing up with an intention for the day.

    When things are spiraling out of control, it’s because you lack physical and mental clarity. Although confidence may seem an intangible element to grasp, it’s far more within reach than you think.

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    Think about what gives you confidence, and find things that correlate to that. If it’s feeling good about your body, commit to fitness. If it’s knowledge, learn from those you admire, or reach out to a mentor you would like to work with.

    Once you have control over how you show up everyday, you will feel more control in the other areas of your life.

    3. Carry out a Brain Dump

    On average, we have 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day.[3] Although it’s impossible to keep track of every single thought that crosses our mind, there is still an uncontrollable list that flows into our consciousness, which can get in the way when you want to know how to get back on track.

    Some of these thoughts spark inspiration or excitement, while others may trigger stress or feelings of being overwhelmed, which can get in the way of getting your life back on track. Eventually, a long list begins to appear, including things to do, daily chores, errands, people to see, project ideas, etc.

    Brain dumping helps declutter the mind and is a chance to bring all those ideas and thoughts onto paper in order to get back on track. By relieving some of that space, you now have room to focus.

    Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or feel that things are spinning out of control, take 15-20 minutes of brain dumping. This exercise isn’t supposed to have structure. Instead, do it free flowingly, and write everything that comes to mind.

    Afterward, you can begin shuffling through your notes, and prioritize them into different categories.

    4. Organize the Little Things

    When you feel like you don’t have control over the major events in your life, always remember you have control over the things that surround your space – literally. This means having control over how clean your house is, how organized your drawers are, if you eat healthy, how much money you spend, how often you see family and friends, etc.

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    The little things add up and can also help you feel like you’re regaining control of your life and reduce stress along the way. This is a great place to start if you want to learn how to get your life back on track.

    5. Define Your Purpose

    Redefining or identifying your purpose is a root that must be planted within you. This, in fact, is the core of building your motivation.

    If you want to learn how to identify this core motivation, you can join Lifehack’s free Fast-Track Class – Activate Your Motivation. It’s a free session that will guide you to do just that. Reserve your spot here.

    Diving into self awareness can help identify or define your purpose, and that is the core of you. Even in harsh weather, trees tend to stand firm, despite how strong the wind or rain may be. When you define your purpose, you’re building that strong base for yourself.

    When things seem to be spiraling, refer back to your purpose and the joy that comes from it. Let that root you as you try getting life back on track.

    6. Assess Your Time Management

    Time management is a life skill, and one that takes years to master. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to engage in multiple projects, but like everything else, it’s about moderation and portion sizes. Assess your day, and see how much of your time and energy go into certain areas and activities if you want to get your life back on track.

    For example, I had a client who worked two jobs. She was exhausted all the time and found herself stressed because she didn’t have any time to herself. She only had one day off, and it weighed heavily on her emotionally, mentally, and even physically.

    For one week, I had asked her to write down how much time she was actually spending doing different activities, including work, recreation, and errands. After physically writing it down, we discovered that her work actually took 75 hours of her time a week and an additional 14 hours of that commuting. She only averaged about 5 hours a sleep at night and ran her errands in between work shifts that left her with only one day to spend with family.

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    The next step was looking at the time she had spent and if having two jobs was worth the mental and physical exhaustion. Afterwards, we broke down how much she was realistically earning.

    After having a clearer picture, I had asked her if it was worth keeping two jobs. She answered no.

    Sometimes, it takes a bit of breaking things down and seeing where your time is spent, with whom, and if it’s aligned to your needs.

    7. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

    When things feel like they are stacking against our favor, sometimes we’re quick to put pressure on ourselves to get our life back on track immediately, which can negatively affect our mental health.

    Although there’s no one solution to help you learn how to get your life back on track overnight, understand that it’s a series of steps towards a specific goal.

    Routines are built through consistency and patience. Actions that consists of “re”– redoing, reinventing, reassessing–means to do something again or differently. Know that this process does take time, and maybe time is what you need first.

    The Bottom Line

    When life seems to be out of our control, it’s also a sign to slow down and reassess where we are in life. Oftentimes, when things start crumbling all at once, it’s an indicator that we have lost the balance that centers our lives.

    Acquiring balance is a lifelong lesson and changes with major life events and throughout time. Next time you feel like everything is happening at once, know that it’s also another opportunity to rebuild and get back on track.

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    More on How to Get Your Life Back on Track

    Featured photo credit: Dmitry Vechorko via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Akina Chargualaf

    Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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    Published on September 27, 2021

    What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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    What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

    We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

    In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

    What Is Incentive Motivation?

    Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

    The Roots of Incentive Motivation

    Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

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    Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

    One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

    “Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

    Examples of Incentive Motivation

    In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

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    Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

    Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

    Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

    How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

    Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

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    Fear Motivation

    In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

    Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

    Social Motivation

    Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

    The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

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    Before You Get Up and Go…

    Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

    Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

    For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

    Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

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    So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

    Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
    [2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
    [3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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