Wondering how to get motivated for the little mundane things you know you should do but they just don’t seem exciting enough to always move us for their own sakes… ie. Saying your prayers, getting out of bed, working out, having that conversation, kindness when you are irritated, forgiveness when it hurts, keeping up with whatever duties we have in our particular season (think housework, studies, or an actual job), etc?
If you are struggling with letting “I don’t feel like it right now” control your day. If procrastination or excuses have you trapped in a vicious cycle that leaves you angry, depressed, or frustrated, devastating your belief in yourself or encouraging you to play the victim card: “This is just too hard for me“, “I’m not cut out for this“, “I’ll never succeed“, “I’ll always be a failure“. “I can’t“. Then I wrote this article for you.
It is a simple, research based strategy to help pull yourself out of the lethargy, but from a new place of strength…
How to Get Motivated – A Preface
The hardest part of doing anything (especially the little stuff) is getting started. Making big commitments can be comparatively easy when placed side by side because of the excitement, the promise, and the expectations involved. But in the hard middle, keeping those big commitments, the little things start to feel less than exciting.
But big lives are simply made of lots of little moments, learning to do the hard mundane well.
So, lets try this together.
The Value of Habits
Science has proven over and over again how important creating habits and routines are for a healthy and successful life. They make hard choices simple and remove the weight of decision making from all the situations where it is not important so that you can focus on more important things.
However, there is a catch.
Habits and routines take discipline and an element of mental strength to put into practice and remain committed to them over time. Sometimes you may have to do this 5 second rule to motivate you to do the 5 second rule… but in the end, the goal is to do what you know to be right as quickly as possible with as little thought as possible from the correct source of strength (in order to avoid burnout)
You MUST use discernment in the first place to decide what habits you are called to implement BEFORE using this strategy to help you accomplish them.
For example, if you are using this rule to try to wake up, if you are unreasonable with your times, no matter what you do to implement them, you will fail. The same goes if you are using this technique to fast and you are unreasonable with your fasting goals.
We do not make goals to try and be impressive.
This is not about our ego or about how much we can accomplish, this is about following a calling – learning to be sensitive to the desires and inclinations God is placing on our hearts. As long as you know you are being called to a specific activity or devotion, then asking God to give you the strength to do what He is asking of you is a no brainer, and the speed with which He answers those prayers is truly incredible.
How to Get Motivated – The 5 Second Rule
I used a couple different proven concepts and combined them to create this process for myself. It is based off the Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule but transformed into a breath prayer.
2 Quick Tips First:
- I personally find it helpful to count DOWN from 5 to 1 but you can do 1-5 as well… However you prefer. The more you personalize these exercises (without losing the spirit of them, of course) will make them all the more successful and motivating to you
- Before this becomes a habit and you know the steps by heart or even by instinct, it is helpful to post these somewhere where you will see them all the time so that they become familiar, but also wherever you consistently find yourself needing motivation… for me, this is the wall beside the bed, my desktop/phone screen, and in the kitchen.
The 5 Second Rule
5) Recognition –
- Deep breath in.
- Say: “Hello” – if it is morning, add “Good morning, Jesus“. (You could also personalize this to say any version of the following: “Here is my invitation”, “This is my moment”, or “He is Calling me”.)
The Goal: Recognize that this is a moment where you need to use the 5 Second Rule. Typically, this looks like every time you are tempted to procrastinate something you know you are supposed to do – a strong and deep connection with heart, gut, and conscience are extremely helpful here. Acknowledge that this is a calling and a new opportunity to grow. Welcome the opportunity by giving it a positive perspective.
4) Gratitude –
- Long breath out.
- Say: “Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity” – You can also add the purpose if you know what it is – ie: “Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to practice patience”. or “Thank you, God, for this new opportunity to love/grow/heal” . (Again, feel free to personalize these words, just understand the purpose)
The Goal: This cultivates an instant attitude of gratitude. It helps you to recognize the call as an opportunity rather than a burden, and shifts focus off of personal comfort (I don’t feel like it). This step is very hard at first but gets much easier with practice, I promise.
- Deep breath in.
- Say: “Be with me“
The Goal: This step asks God to give you the strength you need to do what needs to be done. Imagine breathing Him in. He fills the air all around you and becomes the vigor in your lungs. It eliminates the temptation to believe we are abandoned and reminds us that we do not act alone.
2 ) Choice
- Long Breath out
- Say: “Yes, Lord, I choose you“
The Goal: Say to the Lord who leads you. “If this is what you would have me do, I choose it. I trust You”. This choice prepares ourselves for action, and ONLY comes after we’ve called upon the strength to make it.
- Deep breath in
- Say: “Fiat” and MOVE – Begin, Start
The Goal: Act – turn your prayer into action. DO SOMETHING. Just START. No amount of thinking, planning, or even praying, makes anything happen without your free will response in action, without some sort of “proof of seriousness” on your part. Don’t wait to “Feel like it”. Trust that your prayer has been answered and do not wait for your mind to continue making excuses. Jump out of that bed. Dive into the pool. Type the first words. Make the necessary mistakes required to learn and grow. Press play (on that workout video). Let the rubber meet the road. Whatever you have to do, just do it. Once we start, we can feed off the momentum. Once we aren’t so concerned about being comfortable or perfect any more its much easier to do what needs to be done.
How to Get Motivated – If you are still having problems
If you are still having trouble making progress after implementing the CALLED version of the 5 Second Rule, you might want to ask yourself a couple questions:
- Maybe you are trying to accomplish the wrong thing – Did you discern first whether your goals were from God?
- Don’t forget to work with yourself instead of against yourself. God made you who you are for a reason. Maybe all you need is a simple shift in your “order of operations”. For example, if you are having trouble praying first thing in the morning no matter how hard you try, maybe you are supposed to do your workout first, or drink water, or shower, or get dressed. If your struggle is with getting your prayer time in because you are falling asleep still, then simply make the time to make sure you are fully awake first.
Still having trouble? I would love to help you as much as I can. Maybe leave a comment below or shoot me an email and we can try to work out where you might be getting stuck.
Responding to failure –
What if its still not working?
You say: What if there is no magic solution to my lack of motivation? What if 9/10 times I still fail to choose correctly at the end of all this? What if I fail even to put it into practice (especially if I’m using this technique to get out of bed) given that it takes a certain element of lucidity?
I have a confession to make…
Only between last night and this morning I have already failed twice! And this week, well, I don’t even want to think about it. Its been rough.
I am not proud of this, and recognizing my human weakness fills me with a deep and piercing sorrow akin to what I imagine Peter felt in any number of the moments when he recognized himself to have failed the Lord.
Our failures should fill us with sorrow. If you are finding yourself trapped in this place, then you need to learn to channel that sorrow. Tap into the power of transforming love deep within yourself and learn to use it, not to wallow in self-abasement or defeat but recognize it as fuel; fuel to remember our failures when faced with our next opportunity and make a new choice – a different choice.
This is what it means to have free will. It means we must choose God over and over again. It means that nothing is automatic and that all things will forever require our love, a love so deep that it informs our actions. A love so focused on the beloved that it forgets the cost to self when faced with each new opportunity.
Love – The True Secret to Motivation
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. […] After this he said to him, “Follow me.” – John 21: 15-19
If we do not love enough, then we will not follow. If we do not love enough, we will not choose Him.
If our love is weak, it will not be strong enough to help us make the tough choices.
So, maybe if you find yourself faltering, the question you need to ask yourself isn’t whether or not you have what it takes to self discipline your way through this life (because I promise you don’t – That’s how Christians inevitably burn out
The real question is: How much do you love?
- Do you love enough for that love to spill over into action?
- Do you love enough to stop counting costs?
- Do you love enough to stop wallowing in self pity? To accept mercy and second chances? To recover and recommit?
- Do you love enough?
It is not enough to “love God”, we have to be IN LOVE with God. To get to the point where we WANT to be with God, where prayer is effortless, desirable, and lifegiving, where we desire to lose ourselves in God and follow Him with our lives and to our deaths like the early Christians.
It is not enough to go to church on Sunday, to call yourself a Christian, or to have high ideals.
It is time to fall IN love with God. Anything less than everything will never be enough.
How to Get Motivated: Conclusion
Whether you are struggling to pull yourself out of bed in the morning, or to smile at the person who is makes your life the most difficult, maybe what you need is to refocus on love.
What is love? How much do I love? How can I love God even more? What can I do to pursue God deeper? To make love stronger? To make these decisions easier?
Love is the key to everything.
give me the grace to unlock this new secret of motivation.
Increase my love.
Comment below how these tips have helped you today. What new habits do you need to implement? What will be your biggest obstacle?