Staying Motivated Through a Pandemic

Everyone knows that staying motivated at the moment has become a real challenge. Everyone wants to pursue goals and try and hit those targets, but with the state of the world as it is, that has never been more challenging. That’s why we’ve put together a quick article detailing a range of ways you can focus on looking after yourself and maintaining that all-important momentum and motivation through the current Coronavirus pandemic.

The Power of Self-Care for Motivation

I know, everyone raves about self-care nowadays, it truly is old news at this point. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still completely relevant when it comes to maintaining and protecting yourself against the ravages of life. Life is tough and unpredictable at the best of times, and you’re never going to weather these troubles if you’re neglecting yourself. In essence, you’re leaving yourself exposed unnecessarily and putting hard limitations on what you can achieve before breaking down.

What do I mean when I say self-care though? What qualifies as self-care? Well, pre-planned rest days, for one. Eating ice cream till you feel terrible is not self-care. Allowing yourself a reasonable cheat meal from your diet is self-care. Doing something you enjoy a couple times a week is self-care. Seeing friends, talking through issues with trusted family members, making yourself look pretty and sharp. All self-care, all vital when it comes to maintaining yourself in the long run. I don’t care how good you are at your job or what you’re earning, if you keep forgetting to shower, eat and brush your teeth, you’re going to end up stinky, skinny and toothless.

In essence, self-care is just making sure that before you do anything else, your own mind and body is in order. Your needs are being met. This is the fuel that allows you to work hard and do incredible things in your life. Without self-care, you will achieve less, this is a sad fact that every hard-working person has to contend with. You can have a little rest now, or a long, much more needed one later, it’s your choice. This is never more necessary than during these Covid-19 times.

Manage Yourself Properly, Protect Your Motivation

One of my favourite ways to visualise managing myself is as a team of people I care for. Whenever I catch myself beating myself up over some mistake or laziness, I think, would I treat someone else this way? It’s good to have high standards, of course, but there’s a world of difference between productive high standards and the teacher in Whiplash (a great film about the perils of dedication and unhealthy motivation, go watch it if you haven’t seen it!). The fact is, we’re all human, our energy, imagination and critical abilities are finite, so don’t treat yourself like they’re not. Give yourself a break, then go back to it, twice as hard.

Think about yourself as a manager. You need to drive yourself to be as productive as possible without driving yourself over the edge into kneejerk laziness or worse. Think about your needs, think about the ways in which you work best, think about the nature of momentum and motivation. Know that eventually, no matter what you’re chasing, you’re going to get there.

Balancing Your Goals – Hard Versus Realistic

When it comes to staying motivated through this particular pandemic, we’re all extremely limited in what we can and can’t do. For instance, you might want to set yourself the goal of being able to deadlift four-hundred pounds. Now, unless you have a home gym, that’s a bit of a silly goal. Gyms are closed, and lifting equipment is completely overpriced online at the moment. Goals need to be realistic, or you simply won’t be able to get them done in any kind of reasonable time frame. This gives you an excuse to put said goals off, and nothing is more depressing than having goals you’re ignoring.

It needn’t be that obvious either. If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, saying you’re going to run an ultramarathon in a month is silly. If you’ve never started a business, saying you’re going to be turning over a million by the end of the year is silly too. Now, remember, this is not to say you shouldn’t aim high. However, when coming up with these goals, you need to bear in mind your capabilities and past experiences, as well as resources. Coming up with great, achievable but valid goals starts with an honest appraisal of yourself.

Humble Yourself with Something New, Watch Your Motivation Grow

There’s an inherent value when it comes to humbling yourself by trying something new out. It might feel weird and, in some cases, really stressful to be terrible at something new, however, it’s in this feeling of uncertainty and ego-challenge that we really grow. Nothing is more motivating than seeing ourselves improve at something we were previously terrible at. Develop those skills and watch yourself grow, while challenging an overgrown ego that generally only serves to limit.

Learn to cook, learn a language, learn to paint, build a canoe. Whatever it is, just do it and be blissfully and agonisingly terrible at it. There’s real value to be found in simply embracing being rubbish at something. Once you’re okay with looking a little bit foolish, you open the doors to learning every skill in the known universe. We’ve all got the internet, the only thing limiting your potential to learn new skills is your own fear of being rubbish. The sooner you get over that, the sooner you’ll start feeling happier, and seeing the real potential in yourself and the world around you. And that is an amazing feeling. To think it all comes from those initial periods of being terrible at doing something is amazing.

Self-Discipline is Finite, Growth is Not

Another huge thing that everyone needs to remember in life is that self-discipline is inherently finite. You might think that you can just bully yourself into getting a job done, but in reality, like many diets, you’ll do it for a few days or weeks, and then everything breaks down and old habits fall back in. Whatever you’re doing, you need to program in your essential human fallibility. Do that, and you’ll be making sure that no matter what you try and do, you can’t truly fail. You’ve already installed the fail-safes, so follow your plan and everything won’t crumble when you run out of self-discipline.

It’s long been a part of the media message when it comes to achieving literally anything. The people that do amazing things do so because of their spectacular self-discipline. Their endless hard work and ability to suffer and grind and get it done. This is true in some cases, but what they don’t mention is the motivation and momentum that those people build and how it helps to recharge their self-discipline batteries.

On top of that, you’ll never find an athlete that doesn’t program in at least some rest. If you just keep working, eventually your work suffers, you get injured or break down. Endless labour and effort isn’t the solution to anything, and it doesn’t work. Work hard AND work smart. That’s the key to staying motivated. Once again, it comes down to treating yourself like a team of people you value, instead of slave labour. Trust us, do this right and you will see real, palpable improvement in your output. Utilise this approach and you’ll make the best possible use of the Covid-19 lockdown. Neglect this, and you’ll be curtailing what you can achieve, and no one has time for that.

Motivationally, What Do You Need?

When it comes to maintaining motivation and forward momentum, nothing is more important than considering your needs. If you neglect any major areas of yourself in this, you’re going to see everything else you value impacted by this. That means that if you forget to keep interacting with your friends because you’re so busy working, you’re either going to lose friends or suddenly start feeling extremely lonely. Then these have an impact on your motivation. This is true of all your basic needs, and if you neglect them, it’s inevitable that that will affect you badly in future.

By needs, I’m talking basic things. Maintaining social, romantic and family relations, looking after yourself hygiene and looks-wise, exercising, eating properly, having a creative output. If these things are important to you and you’re neglecting them in favour of working too hard through lockdown, I’ve got bad news for you. You will fail. You will breakdown, and cease to be motivated, inevitably.

Think about it like this. Imagine you’re a team of people, like I said above. If you told people working under you that they couldn’t see their friends until they got the work done, how long would it be till the work produced turned to absolute garbage? People have needs, and that includes you. I know, I know, you’re Mr. Big-Tough-Working-Guy-Who-Gets-It-Done. You won’t be this indefinitely if you keep failing to look after your own needs. If you need a manly analogy for self-care, view it as checking the oil or putting fuel in your car. How’s that? Now get on with it.