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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Feeling Out of Place in Life? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track

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Feeling Out of Place in Life? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track

If you have ever felt like a square peg being shoved into a round hole, then you know what feeling out of place is. You experience an overall lack of alignment—the feeling that you are actively wasting time, energy, and resources can be almost paralyzing.

I know this because I’ve experienced it first-hand—the anxiety, self-doubt, and worry that takes over, the way your mind can be suddenly flooded with negative thoughts and the curiosities about what could have been if you had made other choices. 

Recognizing that you feel out of place can be scary, but like everything in life, it doesn’t have to be permanent.

Here are 5 steps you can take when you are feeling out of place.

1. Acknowledge That Your Feelings Are Trying to Communicate Something IMPORTANT to You

As a Spiritual Advisor, Yogi, and Coach, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the different ways that humans receive messages. Some people can pick up on the subtle and quiet messages whispered to them by the universe, while others have to be virtually bopped over the head with the information.

In the latter circumstance, the Universe will make sure the message is amplified until it cannot be ignored. You may feel conflicted about what your feeling.

For example:

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You may have a stable job that you are good at but still feel off track and unsatisfied. You feel lost but it’s difficult for you to acknowledge that you are unhappy at your work and perhaps, you need to explore other options to feel fulfilled.  

OR

You are in a relationship that is unhealthy or toxic. But you are more afraid of being alone and having to put yourself out there, so admitting that you need to separate from that person is too difficult.

These realizations may be difficult and can take time. Release any embarrassment or shame you have around your confusion or fear. Humans are creatures of comfort.

It is not abnormal to experience some internal resistance when you realize that what your spirit wants and what is comfortable at the moment are out of alignment.

Recognizing that you feel off track is an important first step to getting back on track. It requires bravery and honesty to acknowledge that you may feel lost or confused. Give yourself credit for taking this incredibly important first step. 

2. Take Time to Meditate on When You Started to Feel Out of Place or Off Track

Everything has a root, a cause, a starting point. If you are going to be able to move forward, it’s important to know where you are moving forward from.

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Journaling is an incredibly helpful tool when used strategically. I’m not referring to the common and cathartic freewriting you usually associate with journaling, but instead, “prompt journaling.

Prompt Journaling allows you to direct your attention very efficiently as you explore some questions.

Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • I feel safe when…
  • The last time I felt confident was…
  • I want to feel…
  • I deserve…
  • I am worthy of…
  • I noticed a change in myself when…
  • The activities that make me feel good are…
  • I feel joyful when…
  • I feel full of life when…
  • I enjoy…
  • Write a letter to yourself a year from now.
  • Write a letter to yourself 2 years ago.

Studies have shown that journaling can help manage anxiety and reduce stress because it gives you a healthy way to express yourself when faced with overwhelming emotions.

The act of physically writing helps you to get clarity by giving you space to prioritize your fears or concerns and providing an opportunity for positive self-talk as well as a judgment-free zone to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors.[1]

3. Check in With Your Support System

Support systems are essential in helping you identify how, when, and why you got off track in the first place. Sometimes, it can be helpful to have an objective and external source to help you process some of the things you are discovering and realizing about yourself. It can be a lot.

Consider talking to your trusted friends and close family or people who you feel safe talking to and know will be objective yet honest with you.

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The goal is to enlist the help of someone who can help you acknowledge the things that you may be avoiding. In some cases, it is best to do this with a trusted professional, such as a therapist.

In other cases, what you need is someone to help you organize your thoughts and create an action plan. In that case, you might enlist the help of a reputable coach or experienced mentor.

Having a support system that will hold you accountable and create space for you to go through the process is critical to you getting back on track. This will greatly reduce the negativity of feeling out of place.

4. Be Grateful

Gratitude is a balm for the soul. It can be the thing that gives us respite from the troubles of the mind and worries of the heart.

When we practice gratitude, the alchemy that happens in the brain is incredible. Studies show that spending time focusing on the things that one is grateful for can lead to increased optimism, feeling better about one’s life, organic desire to exercise, and reduced doctor’s visits.[2]

Let me be clear. Gratitude is not about ignoring what is bothering you or sweeping things under the rug. Instead, gratitude asks you to become innately aware of the world around you and your current experience so that you can identify anything—no matter how small—that you feel grateful for.

It can be as simple as a sunny day, a delicious tangerine, water, or waking up. The thing you express gratitude for doesn’t need to be magnanimous. It can be simple, small, and unique to your experience. The goal is for you to reorient your thinking so that you can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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5. Visualize Where You Want to Be

Once you have taken time to acknowledge how you feel, get curious about when it started, check in with your support system, and be grateful, the only thing left to do is to start to visualize where you want to be.

There is no point in doing all this work if you don’t know where you want to go from here. Get bold, dream big. Think (or journal) about where you want to be in a 1 month, 6 months, a year.

Draw how you want your life to look. Create a vision board. There are a lot of different ways you can give your vision life. 

The reason we want to externalize these ideas is to give us something to easily refer back to when we get overwhelmed. At the moment, it is easy to forget what we are doing and why we are doing it. When you have access to an external representation of your goal. it is easier to have it anchor you when things get rough.

When you have a clear vision, it is easier to create a plan of action. Ultimately, that plan of action will help you take the action necessary to help you get back on track.

Final Thoughts

There is no shortcut to getting back on track when you feel out of place in life. You have to take a hard look at yourself and get really curious about what lead to these feelings.

You have to want to shift your focus and truly desire to reconnect with yourself.  There must be a willingness to do the work. You have to believe that YOU DESERVE peace, happiness, satisfaction, joy—otherwise, visioning the life you want will be impossible.

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Feeling off track is not the end of the world. In fact, it is more of a right-of-passage. Remember that it is not permanent, and the process can be sped up if you are proactive. You can do this!

Read These If You’re Feeling Out of Place

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] URMC: Journaling for Mental Health
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: Giving thanks can make you happier

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Awilda Rivera

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Published on October 27, 2021

The Psychology of Motivation: Why Is Motivation So Powerful?

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The Psychology of Motivation: Why Is Motivation So Powerful?

Motivation is an important driving force in people’s lives. It can affect both minor and major aspects of your life. Oftentimes, one’s level of motivation—or lack thereof—can determine their level of success.

In this article, I will discuss the concepts of motivation and psychology and present six psychological motives that drive people. Moreover, I will present some tips on how you can get motivated and discuss reasons why motivation is so powerful. I will also add my thoughts from my world where motivation plays an important role: the world of athletics.

What Is Motivation?

Research indicates that motivation has many definitions. The Oxford Dictionary defines it in several ways:[1]

  • “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a certain way.”
  • “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”
  • “Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behavior.”

We can conclude from these definitions that motivation is the driving force behind what we do and the key ingredient to accomplishing goals.

There are two primary types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is doing an activity to attain an outcome, usually a reward of some kind. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is “an internal drive for success or sense of purpose.” Research states that the more effective of the two—the motivation that leads to the best results—is intrinsic.[2]

Kevin Kruse validated the value of intrinsic motivation when he wrote,

“Life is about making an impact, not an income.”

Stephen Covey said it a different way,

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone tries to light that fire, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

What Is Psychology?

American Psychology defines psychology as “the scientific study of the mind and behavior.”[3] There are six insights that psychology has brought to us regarding the forces behind motivation.

  1. Money and rewards – Some people are driven to make as much money as they can so they can flaunt their wealth in their community. Others see money as a necessity to take care of their families.
  2. Desire to be the best – I believe that the key factor to be the best stems from a willingness to prepare. Michael Jordan and Tom Brady are prime examples of the 5P’s—”Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”
  3. Helping others –  Albert Einstein said it best when he wrote, “I can think of no reason why we are here but to help others.”
  4. Power and fame – I think a great number of people who attain fame do not pursue it. They simply go to work, roll up their sleeves, attain fame, and remain humble.
  5. Recognition – Take it with a grain of salt. It can vanish quickly and permanently!
  6. Passion – I am from the same town as Rudy Ruettiger from the movie, “Rudy.” I do know Rudy well and I can say without hesitation that it was his passion that got him admitted into Notre Dame, to play football there, and to get his outstanding movie to the public.

Why is Motivation So Powerful?

I believe that the goal of extrinsic motivation is to get people to reach intrinsic motivation, which is a very powerful driving force. Below are the five main reasons why intrinsic motivation is so powerful.[4]

1. It Leads to Better Persistence

I can think of no worthwhile endeavor that I was involved with that was easy. Most accomplishments face obstacles and failure along the way. Persistent people beat them.

Persistent people develop a strong Failure Quotient (FQ). Losing is a part—and often a big part—of an athletic season. According to Stan Kellner in his book, Taking it to the limit with basketball-cybernetics: A revolutionary mind-training program for winning performance, those who do succeed in developing a strong FQ approach losing in two ways: learn from it or move on. Moving on may be the tougher of the two to accomplish, but it is essential for future success. An oft-used refrain in athletics is that you need to have a short memory—forget the failure and move on now.

2. It Enhances Engagement

In their research, Kuvaas and Dysvik found that “intrinsically motivated employees were more likely to be highly engaged and more involved in their work, as well as display a greater readiness to step up and take responsibility.”[5] People who step up to the plate get things done!

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All great athletes are motivated to work on their own. Very few people realize all the time they invest on their own. When Michael Jordan came back to the Chicago Bulls after his stint in baseball, he and the Bulls lost in the playoffs. He knew he had to get his basketball legs back, but he had signed to make the movie, Space Jam. So, he had an outdoor basketball court built on the movie property so he could practice between and after sets. Even the greatest basketball player ever still needed to practice on his own.

3. Intrinsically Motivated Learning Is More Effective

Hinton Zigler presented the power of learning succinctly when he wrote,

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”

I have always believed great teachers do four things: they know their subject matter, they are organized, they teach with enthusiasm, and they care about their students in and out of the classroom. However, no matter how outstanding that teacher may be, if the student is not motivated to learn, he will not learn. In the last analysis, only one person is responsible for your body of work—you!

4. We Perform Better When Intrinsically Motivated

When we are intrinsically motivated, we strive for perfection in any task we take on. Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, stressed the efficacy of perfection when he wrote,[6]

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Motivated people do find excellence and find it often.

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5. Intrinsically Motivated People Are More Likely to Stay

Motivated people stay with you through the tough times, but non-motivated people leave when times get tough.

When a new coach is hired to take over a program, they are often hired because the program has fallen on bad times—they are losing. There is a real possibility that it will take three to five years to turn the program around, and that is why new coaches are often given five-year contracts. Given this reality, the coach must recruit or draft talented players. However, that is not enough. They will also want to bring in players of character because they stick with you through the tough times.

5 Ways to Get Motivated

According to Kendra Cherry, there are certain psychological factors regarding motivation that you can use to your advantage. She claims that these psychological techniques can help you feel more motivated in life.[7] Below are five ways to get motivated.

1. Use Incentives Carefully

Be cautious with rewards. She emphasized that we should not compliment someone for being smart or athletic—instead, compliment them for the effort they make to be smart or athletic.

In addition to complimenting someone for their effort, we took it one step further. We found that a good number of people could give great effort on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday but could not reach down and find that same effort on Thursday and Friday. So, we told our athletes that effort is not enough and that the difference between good and great is the consistency of effort. The great ones can find the best they have to give daily. None of us have our “A Game” every day, but the great ones consistently find their best.

2. Introduce Challenges

It often seems to me that the challenges I have been most apprehensive about have been the best things I have ever done. I have traveled overseas to present basketball camps and speak at clinics. I certainly found this work challenging. I wanted to give presentations that would be valuable to the players and coaches, and I was nervous. The one thing I found that helped me get through nervousness was preparation. I spent a great deal of time preparing for these challenges.

3. Don’t Visualize Success

This goes against the modern theory of visualization. The usual concept is to see yourself doing the activity successfully. Instead, Cherry believes that you should visualize the steps it will take to achieve success.

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I do not necessarily agree with her on this premise for motivation. I believe in visualization—you should see the goal, the end result. Shooting free throws in basketball is a great time to visualize. I believe seeing the ball going through the net is more important than trying to break down all the steps to get to that objective. Visualize the success.

4. Take Control

Cherry does not promote trying to dominate a project. She does, however, promote ascertaining how you can contribute to the success of the project.

Most projects you undertake necessitate teamwork, and it is important to understand that you are part of a team and that your main goal is to contribute to the team’s success. In athletics, we look at this concept a little differently. We want the team to develop the “Disposition to Dominate.” It is still about the team, but we want the team to dominate.

5. Focus on the Journey, Not the Outcome

In athletic competition, you want the outcome to be victory, but your focus cannot be on the victory. Your focus must be on the process it will take to get the victorious outcome. If you fail to concentrate on the things you must do to achieve success, you will never arrive at a successful conclusion.

Final Thoughts

The psychology of motivation gives us insights into the kind of mindset we need for us to excel in life. Those who pursue perfection leading to excellence are the most powerful and productive people in any organization. They don’t need extrinsic motivation because they are driven internally—it’s in their DNA.

More Tips on Gaining Motivation

Featured photo credit: Quino Al via unsplash.com

Reference

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