Making a start
Before we start anything there is always that moment of trepidation, if you are anything like me there is the seduction of procrastination and there is always that stall or pause when you have to urge yourself on before the magic of momentum comes to keep you moving forward towards your goals, plans, intentions and dreams.
In that pause, we try to figure out if the thing we are about to embark on – a 5k run, a marathon, an artistic endeavour, a new project or career – is actually worth it to us. Sometimes we give in to the little voice inside our head that says ‘Do you know what? Let’s start this running regime / industry prep / networking strategy tomorrow. There is always tomorrow…” So, we find ourselves back in the same position a day later but with a little less belief and resolve than we did yesterday.
We begin to doubt that when we say we are going to do something that we commit and do it. Little by little our belief gets chipped away by our own inability to do the thing we said we would do. As this happens over a period of time we begin to feel stuck, unhappy and unable to move. In other words, we stagnate.
Technique and practice
In my experience, the only difference between succumbing to that little voice, or overcoming it entirely, is technique and practice. When it comes to our thoughts and how we perceive our reality – pattern and repetition matter. These neural pathways (positive or negative) become ingrained in the way we are naturally inclined to think. But, the good news is that we create the pathways to procrastinate and the pathways to motivate.
We just need to reinforce the behaviour and thoughts we want time and time again until they become second nature. We have power over our lives and how we live them which is liberating but also comes with a dose of responsibility. We are ultimately in control of our own lives.
Once we make the neural connections and create the pathways we find our groove and begin to ride the wave of momentum. Over time, momentum can carry us forward with less effort than we originally had to exert in the first place.
How to begin
Ok so what to do when you get in a funk? When you need to reset, recentre and most importantly, make a start!
1. Write down why this goal is important
Firstly, ask is this goal truly important to you? For example, if you are running a 5k for the first time, why do you want to do it? Maybe you want to be more active in order to have more energy for playing with your kids, maybe being outdoors and breathing fresh air makes you feel alive, maybe you want to feel more at home and comfortable in your body. Write down your answers and figure it out. When you see your valid and inspiring reasons written down in black and white it will give you a mental boost and clarity in what you are doing and why.
2. Do something really challenging and out of the ordinary
Sometimes when we really push ourselves to do something that we would never usually do it gives us a wakeup call; a little jump start and a burst of energy. For example, I particularly don’t like cold water. In fact, I loathe it. When I am working towards a challenging goal or am having trouble getting started I give myself an even bigger challenge of jumping in the Irish Sea. Cold, shocking, unforgiving but so life affirming that I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. Again, the neural pathways are linking in my mind. I said I’d do something, I did it, now I have another little victory in my bucket and I feel alive and full of vitality.
3. Grab a friend
You know that friend who is motivating, fun and usually in good form – hang out with them. It rubs off! It’s true. We all know energy radiators and drainers. When you’re with the radiators you feel energised, buzzy, positive and more alert. It’s the opposite with the drainers. Choose your company wisely and invest your time with them. If you are having trouble finding that within the pool of people you know personally then go join a group. Run clubs, swim meetups and hill walking groups are popping up everywhere around the country. Put yourself out there and get a new network or community.
4. Inspirational talks
Ok, I know our positive friend or community is not always around so another quick, easy and accessible way to get a boost of motivation is listen to a TED Talk or podcast. There are some many inspirational people around the globe and we now have access to them in our pockets, in our kitchens any time we need a dose of get up and go. Obviously, the one I have been sharing most recently is Mark Pollock and Simone George’s TED talk – it is truly inspiring
5. Trick yourself
If all else fails and none of the above are convenient then you have to get tricky with yourself! Instead of the 2k jog you planned then tell yourself you’ll just go out for a brisk walk for 15 minutes. Instead of the 1-hour yoga session you had planned just roll out your mat for 10 minutes. Instead of that challenging email you have to send, get started on a simple email first. Tell yourself it’s a brief time period with an easy enough task and most of the time before you know it you’ll get in the flow and find yourself jogging for longer then you expected, on your mat longer then you said or your brain in gear to begin penning that difficult email. The trick is to start on something small and manageable, once you start that you’ll be on a roll!
Lee Tracey is a yoga, meditation and mindfulness teacher based in Dublin. She is interested in sharing practices that serve in helping people to live more fulfilling, mindful and vibrant lives. She works with studios and corporates in Ireland as well as sharing her passion at festivals and events throughout Europe and is a Lululemon ambassador. She has trained worldwide, from Dublin to Costa Rica to New York City and she has been lucky enough to learn from some of very best in their field. Her goal is to share what she has learned in an accessible and engaging way through movement, community initiatives, connection and awareness. A keen runner, Lee will be blogging for Run in the Dark about yoga, wellness and motivation.