What’s Your Motivation?

One of the biggest complaints I hear from people is “I have no motivation.”  This can be a symptom of depression, but I see it as a more universal issue.  Especially since I noticed the slump in my home practice of yoga.  I had a busy couple of weeks, and wasn’t able to go to my regular yoga classes.  Apparently, they have been keeping my practice afloat, because when I couldn’t get there, I was barely rolling out my mat at all!  Once upon a time, I did yoga daily, no matter what.  At home with a web class, my own sequence, studio class, it didn’t matter, I did it.  But lately I’ve counted a few stretches after walking the dog as my practice.  Well, today I rolled out my mat and did some serious yoga, and I feel so much better!  So why aren’t I motivated to do it every day anymore?  I decided to take a look at motivation, and what promotes it or detracts from it.

I think one of the big downfalls of motivation is lack of direction.  It’s much easier to make a plan of action if my goal is to exercise than if it’s to “get healthy.”  So, I need to set a specific goal that allows me to focus my attention.  Then I can create concrete steps to achieve it.  Motivation comes from having a direction and knowing how to get started.  Then I can tell someone about my goal, because accountability promotes good motivation.  It’s best to choose someone who will cheer success as well as give a gentle nudge when needed.  Or, I can set up a buddy system with someone who shares my goal.  I increase accountability, but I have also added a partner to keep myself going.  I know I’m more likely to get up for morning yoga if I’ve planned to meet a friend in class.

Now I’ve set my goal and created accountability, next I have to actually begin my plan.  This part can be tricky, because I have decided to make a change, and I want to do it all right now!  My tendency would be to plan a home yoga practice every day I can’t attend class from here on out.  Obviously over-ambitious.  The first time I don’t meet my goal, I’ve set myself up for that classic all-or-nothing thinking that can derail the best plans.  Instead, I should start small, with a realistic schedule.  I can successfully do yoga at home 2 days a week.  Once I meet my goal, I can always add more.  But right now, that’s enough.

Now that I’ve started my return to regular home yoga, I have to keep doing it.  Obviously, right?  What I mean is, I have to create a habit.  Routine is a powerful motivator.  I have realized that I used to do yoga at home all the time because I used to do yoga at home all the time.  It’s just what I did.  Somewhere along the line I got out of practice, and now I have to rebuild.  It takes about a month to create a new habit, and that month carries a lot of potential to give up.  But, if I follow my own advice to stay motivated and keep rolling out my mat, eventually it will become routine again.  In the meantime, I will focus on the positive aspects of reaching my goal, like increased energy, a calmer mind and stronger body.  I know those things are the ultimate goal, not the daily practice.  Keep your eye on what’s good about your goals, and it will keep you going!

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