If you’re anything like me, waking up in the morning is a hard task. Over the course of a number of years I’ve built a routine that helps wake me up and keeps me motivated.
For me one of the hardest parts of the day is actually waking up and staying awake. There are a few tricks to this.
Before you go to sleep, eat a spoon of nut butter (or sunflower butter if you’re allergic), this helps with blood sugar levels and can help you feel more rested the next day. Getting into bed from 9pm-11pm does have its benefits, as the body can have more non-REM sleep earlier in the evening, which is believed to be more restorative.
One of the major things I’ve learnt is going back to sleep after your alarm will only make you more tired, and research suggests even if you feel groggy when waking up, going back to sleep will do just that. The best way to shed that feeling of grogginess is to eat an apple and drink a glass of water. The apple has fructose, minerals and water which help kickstart you after 8 hours of no food and the water helps rehydrate you.
One hack I’ve also used is having a bottle of hot sauce on the nightstand. When I wake up I take a small amount of hot sauce and that hit of hot sauce gets my heart going enough that I can’t fall asleep again. Straight after this you want to get exercising. The reason is because you’re less likely to procrastinate and you’ll be feeling the endorphins that are a great motivation booster.
Any exercise that gets your heart rate up will help. Ideally either a 15 minute high intensity interval training or a short run, as this will get your breath and heart rate up. However, Yoga is great too as a form of body meditation and a good way to shake off slumber.
“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life.” – Hal Elrod
The Wim Hof Method
Post 15 minute workout, the 5 minute Wim Hof breathing exercise and a cold shower really helps. The cold water is a challenge but leaves you energised and has been shown to counter colds and flus and even anxiety. After this you can sit down to work and feel ready to take on any challenge (as a cold shower is a pretty tough one.)
Meditation and journaling
A quick 5 or 10 minute meditation before work can get your mind ready for any task. Post meditation, your brain emits alpha waves which can reduce stress and anxiety. You can use the time after to set your daily goals and remind yourself of your monthly goals. It’s also a good time to do a quick journaling, which is usually 2-3minutes of writing, which leaves you focused.
I have used a three part journal.
Part one is gratitude, being grateful for things in your life is proven to make people happier and less stressed. Even small things like your breakfast, the weather or a comfy bed are a good start. It rewires your brain to not focus on what you lack but what you have. It’s important to write these down and the action of writing helps cement these in your brain.
Part two is red/blue. This helps with discipline. I write the things I did well (meditated, exercised) in blue and if I did something I’m not happy with (went to bed late) in red. It helps hold yourself accountable and fix those behaviors.
Part three is remembering your successes and visualizing future ones. It’s a quick ‘what do I want’. Writing down your goals again and again reinforces them and makes it easier to work and focus if you know why you are working. It’s also a way to check in with yourself if you still even want those things. Remembering success is just a way to remind yourself of the hard work you’ve done and what you’ve achieved. It helps remind you you’re capable of more of these kinds of success.
For me a smoothie with some berries, protein, oats, nuts and spinach helps set me up for the day. Tonnes of fibre, protein and vitamins and it’s fast to make and consume.
Removing distractions and not to do list
A lot of successful people rely on “what not to do” lists as well as to do lists. For me the main things not to do is: multitasking, futurecasting, focusing on what I don’t want or dwelling on the past. Having these “not to dos” in front of you helps to remind you to reject those thoughts or behaviours when they creep in. One of the most important ways I can stay focused is to check my phone only after meditating and then put it in my bag or somewhere out of reach. This way it doesn’t distract me and I get out of the habit of checking notifications as they arise.
The whole process is about 45 minutes to an hour and sets you up for a day where your productivity and motivation will be noticeably improved from days you don’t.
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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