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!