Fall is coming. The sunlight is subtly different – I feel the change more than I see it. Nights are a little cooler. And, funny as it may seem, I feel like it’s time to get new school clothes! When I was a kid, this kind of weather signaled a trip to Louise Goodell, a small children’s clothing store where the annual shopping outing took place.
So now, many years past school age, I still feel the urge to get a few new things and clean out my closet. Last week I found myself not only clearing out huge piles of old clothes to give to Good Will, but also – never thought I would do this! – organizing my clothes by category (shirts, pants, skirts, sweaters . . .). Although I could never find what I wanted before, I never felt motivated to take the time, although it is really a time-saver overall.
My point is this: Motivation comes and goes, ebbs and flows. I guarantee that I will not feel like cleaning my closet again for years. Healthy habits are similar, I think. One day, it all seems easy. A long walk in the morning often leads to a healthier lunch, which creates a willingness to spend a little time cooking extra food for the week ahead. Now you are on a roll! Maybe it lasts a day, or maybe a week, but a high level of motivation usually alternates with periods of less interest. It can be dramatic – as it is for may people who follow a strict weight loss plan, fall completely away from it, and then go back to another rigid plan – or it can be less of a roller coaster ride, but it is human nature to have trouble keeping motivation high at all times.
Accept that. When a low motivation point hits, remember that the high points will soon be there. Motivation is complex. It can be affected by life situations, mood, lack of time, changing priorities, and more. If you do not expect it to be constant, it will be easier to adapt to changing situations around you and even within you. Then you can set the bar appropriately high or low. The chances of following healthy habits more often will increase with this attitude. Frustration and disappointment are motivation killers. A feeling of success and confidence, no matter how small, can get momentum rolling. Motivation is not entirely random – you can set yourself up to have more of it.
What I find, for myself and for others, is that focusing on the accomplishments that move toward positive changes creates a higher level of motivation overall – creating new habits that feel more natural. A focus on what is NOT working can become a habit too. The results will most likely be much different. Try not to go there! So what have you done well today? I know there is something.