For many of us who are used to the daily grind consisting of working with an office, WFH – guaranteed the most used acronym of 2020 – has been a challenge to say the least.

And one of the biggest hurdles we've had to jump over? Motivating ourselves to get s*** done! Now that we have our domestic sphere mixed with our working one, it can be feel tempting to pop on the TV as 'background noise' in our new office space, as we WFS – work from sofa – but as we've all experienced, this will inevitably end up with no work getting done at all.

To kick our minds back into focus, we've asked CEO and founder of emotional identity coaching app, Paradym, to give us her expert tips as to how to motivate ourselves during these times. Find her advice below.

Before we get stuck into the 'how to’s' of motivation, let’s get a pulse check on where we are now with our motivation and what we’re looking to get motivated about. 

Not all motivation is created equal. In the Paradym Process, we talk about a spectrum of motivation. On one side there’s controlled motivation, this is the kind of motivation where we’re forced to do something that we haven’t really made a choice about. For example, your friend loves Barry’s Bootcamp, and she’s signed up for Hell Week and has persuaded you to do the same despite your dislike for high intensity workouts! 

On the other side of the spectrum is intrinsic motivation. This is the kind of motivation that’s driven by you and your own choices, with studies showing this kind of motivation is associated with higher levels of performance. So to draw on our workout example, this would mean if you signed up for a Hell Week of Pilates,  because it’s your favourite workout, you would not only derive more pleasure but you’d also likely do a much better job. 

Trying to dig a little deeper into why you’re stuck is really the first step in getting yourself motivated. If you realise you need to make a change in your life, then start there. Maybe what you need to learn to say no to your friend who keeps pushing you to Barry’s Bootcamp, and you don’t actually need to be motivated to work out. Because you have no problems when it comes to getting to your online Pilates classes. 

I recommend taking 5-10 mins to reflect on what you’re trying to achieve first. If you’re really unmotivated to do something, it could be a signal it’s not something you like or enjoy doing. Could you do something else instead to achieve the same goal? Pilates instead of Barry’s? Switching jobs/careers/industries? 

After that short reflection, you might have clarity about your goals and how to get there, but if you still feel like you need a little nudge because lockdown has you feeling weird or lethargic, then keep reading:  

5 Science-Backed Tips on Motivating Yourself 

This is an emotion regulation technique. Think ahead to the future, how will you feel once you’ve done whatever it is you’re pushing aside? 

Perhaps it's the 6am workout that seems impossible as you lie in your warm bed, and the sun hasn’t even come up! Think about how great you normally feel after you move and sweat a little bit. It might make the rest of your day feel even better. 

Or, perhaps it’s that project you need to nail so you can get your promotion. You just don’t feel like doing the project right now. Think about how you’ll feel when you get that promotion that you’ve been wanting. 

Research shows that setting goals is linked with higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy (Locke and Lathan, 2006). Are your goals SMART, meaning are they Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timebound? Basically, break up what you’re trying to achieve into smaller chunks. Starting small will create more wins. If you start big and aren’t able to achieve your goal, you’re less likely to try again. But if you keep achieving the small and realistic steps toward your goal, slowly but surely you’ll get to where you want. 

Think about running a marathon. You can’t just run a 10k marathon tomorrow morning with no training. To successfully run that marathon, you’ll need to start working on a training plan first, you’ll need to adjust your nutritional intake, step by step you’ll increase the distance you’re running, and then eventually you will get to 10k. 

The thought of running that 10k with 0 foundation laid is incredibly daunting and nerve wracking. Of course there would be little motivation to do it. 

No matter how small the step, celebrate the win. When you  achieve something you  want, the brain emits dopamine. In setting smaller steps and celebrating the wins, you will emit more dopamine, which will ultimately help to train your brain to make a new habit and, in turn this will help you achieve your goals.

Whether it's treating yourself to a coffee, calling a friend to share the good news, or ordering a new pair of shoes, making progress towards something you want is an achievement that should be celebrated. 

You’ve broken down your goals into smaller achievable chunks, and you have a deadline you want to achieve them by. Great, put these dates into your calendar. Scheduling your tasks keeps you accountable to yourself. Even better, add calendar push reminders. 

This will help you take action towards your goals. But in being consistent, it will also help you form a habit around your goal, which will support your motivation. 

Staying motivated isn’t easy. However actionable steps like the ones above can help you move past negative emotional thought patterns that are holding you back. 

If you’re still feeling stuck, there might be something deeper holding your back. Is it an intrinsic belief about your abilities? Perhaps you don’t feel like you deserve the promotion? Or perhaps its fear that once you get promoted you won’t be able to handle the responsibility. 

Start with more awareness. Dig a little deeper into the situation and your feelings. If you want some structure, we can guide you through your  negative thinking patterns at Paradym

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