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5 Tips for Motivation

Motivation is the elusive force that drives us to get things done. This article is about giving you tips for motivation that should be easy to implement. Motivation is that force, that pushes us ahead in life, and gets us out of bed in the morning.  That thing that everyone requires and all of us want more of. Almost everyone I work with, whether they are dealing with life or health issues would love to have more motivation.

Motivation by definition is, “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”.  Most psychologists’ will break this down into 3 elements; activation, persistence and intensity.  

I Will, I Won't, I want

Activation is “the ability to make a choice to do something”.  To put it simply, It’s the; I Will, I Won’t, I Want, that resides in all of us.  

I Will, I Won’t, I Want are desires driven by instinct.  Without these, we would not get out of bed, not go to work, and never procreate.   The human race as we know it would not exist.  So, desire is the easy part for most of us.  It’s the second two that I’d like to focus on because it’s the persistence and intensity that actually get us to our goal.

I have always looked at motivation as a combination of 2 things, the ENERGY to move forward and the WILLPOWER to continue even if things become overwhelming or resistant.  Willpower determines the persistence and Energy determines the intensity. No matter what we are trying to accomplish, nothing in life would get done without these components.

So here is a list of 5 practices, that help my Health Coaching clients gain more motivation to improve their health and their lives.

Let’s start with what builds and ensures the energy component.  In Chinese Medicine energy is Chi. The first way to build Chi within the body is one almost everyone loves.

#1 Sleep to Support Motivation

Our first tip for motivation is sleep. Sleep may not be the first thing you think about when trying to cultivate motivation, but adequate sleep and rest breaks will always be one of the keys to getting and staying motivated.  Sleep restores energy. A body has finite resources. Most of us push ourselves to the point of exhaustion to meet deadlines and keep up our productivity.  Which is exactly, what NOT to do if you want more motivation.  

Most studies on the topic have shown that taking adequate breaks for mental downtime and sleep actually increases motivation and productivity.  So, don’t feel guilty about taking the time for rest.  Remember, you can catch up on sleep, but you cannot store it for later, so having regular good sleep is paramount for continued motivation.

Words of warning –  don’t think this is a free pass to sleep your way to success. Too much sleep can actually inhibit motivation by making you lethargic.  Sleep cycles require 90 minutes for you to effectively enter all stages of sleep, and 5 (90-minute sleep cycles per day) has been proven to be optimal for most people even if you don’t get them all at the same time.

 #2 Nutrition and Hydration to Optimize Motivation

Our second tip for motivation is Nutrition and Hydration. Man cannot exist on sleep alone, so we do need the right nutrition.  Sugar in Chinese medicine takes its toll on Spleen Chi which is one of the primary meridians governing energy.  Sugar can leave a body feeling lethargic, after the initial high.  To eat properly you must include a balance of healthy fat, protein and complex carbohydrate like dark leafy greens.  Avoid processed foods, as they contain loads of sugar. The closer your food is to nature, the more Chi, energy and nutrition it provides.

Don’t forget the importance of water.  Dehydration is one of the main reasons for lack of energy that I see in my clinic.  Most patients that complain about feeling lethargic aren’t consuming the recommended 64 ounces of water, at minimum, for a body to perform.  

Please don’t think that your caffeinated coffee counts as hydration or that it actually gives you energy.  Caffeine is a stimulant that makes your body push beyond its limits. Rely on this for too long, and you will actually be depleting your energy.  A good rule of thumb is, for every ounce of caffeinated beverage, it will require 2 ounces of water to replenish you.

#3 Air / Exercise to Enable Clear Thinking & Motivation 

The Third tip for motivation is air & exercise. Air is a wonderful source of energy and the closer you are to trees and oxygen the better most people feel.  If you need that break, go out and breath in a bit of fresh air, it will do wonders for clear thinking and motivation. 

If you can’t be out in nature, or if you live in a polluted environment, try a salt therapy chamber.  Breathing salt air will clean out your lungs. Salt is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-viral.  It will also dilate the alveoli and bronchi of the lungs allowing you to take even more of that Chi into the lungs. 

Even better, combine these with regular aerobic exercise, also proven to build energy and increase motivation. 

#4 Meditation to Enhance Willpower & Motivation

The fourth tip for motivation is meditation. Now that you understand the ways to build energy and chi in the body, next, we need that elusive component willpower, to get us the persistence part of motivation. 

Have you always assumed the motivated people you see are just born with it? They are magically able to resist temptation and get things done at a record pace. Fortunately this is not the case; willpower is, in fact, a muscle.  It, like any muscle, can be exercised to become stronger.

So here’s the key to building the willpower muscle – brain training mediation!  I know what you are thinking, “oh no, I’m crap at meditation.”   The really awesome news is; being bad at meditation is actually really good for increasing willpower and therefore motivation.

People often confuse meditation with being able to completely clear your mind.  Meditation isn’t really about this at all.  It’s about the ability to bring your mind back to center, or back to the breath, when it strays.  If you are like me, my brain strayed constantly when beginning to learn meditation.  That’s ok, because, the simple act of bringing your attention back to something and refocusing on it trains your willpower muscle.  Even 5 minutes of meditation per day, has been proven to increase your ability to move past that tray of cookies at the office and go back to work.  Motivation 1, cookie 0!  That’s the bonus power of meditation.

#5 Let Go!

The last tip for motivation is letting go! Once you have your energy, and your willpower muscle strengthened.  There is one more thing that you must let go of in order to be motivated – Perfectionism

Perfectionism often gets in the way of the final component for motivation, which is action.  Many of us don’t actually act because we are afraid the outcome will not be perfect.  As a health and wellness coach, I have found that, this leads to irrational feelings of inadequacy, making us feel too overwhelmed to even try in the first place.  

Perfectionism is the enemy of motivation because in the end nothing is ever perfect, and if we choose not to move forward until perfection is reached, we will continued to be stuck forever.  Instead try to understand that we are perfect in our own imperfection, and any changes we want to make in the world that require motivation can only be accomplished if you try.    

If this brings up anxiety for you, you are probably struggling with it.  Tools such as coaching, CBD and other natural supplements can help with the anxiety that comes with perfectionism, but ultimately you just need to understand perfectionism for what it is, good and bad, and let it go!

Tanya Hughes, LAc, LMT, MSOM, DIpl. Ac Licensed Acupuncturist, Health Coach, Certified CBD Therapist
[email protected]
The Acupuncture Center
2855 East Brown Rd. #17, Mesa, AZ 85213

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