By Oliver W. Colbert
Since this new way of living started a few months ago, I noticed that a lot of influencers and motivators saw quarantine as an opportunity to motivate people by way of guilt. I saw posts and videos of influencers saying things like, “If you don’t come out of quarantine with a new skill or new stream of income you’ve wasted your time. No Excuses.” And, although I see the logic behind this train of thought, I emphatically disagree with the approach. If I’m trying to begin a new endeavor, be it personal or professional, more free time can be what I need to get started, but it’s not going to help me stay motivated.
Using guilt as a method of motivating, or any method that’s based in fear for that matter, can, in many ways, be counterproductive. For example, when quarantine started, and I began to work remotely, I saw these types of “motivating” posts, and I was inspired to start my goal to run a mile every day for a month. I thought since I have the time, I’m going to go for it, and since I had the time, I shouldn’t have any excuse. Two weeks into the month, I missed a run because I had to work late. To say the least, I felt demoralized and disappointed in myself. So much so, that I didn’t even want to think about starting over or trying it again. My motivation for this goal was purely rooted in the fact that I had more free time, but evidently, that wasn’t enough to get me to persevere. After missing that one run, I could’ve just bounced back with two runs the next day, but instead, I stopped. And that’s because my motivation started in a place of guilty as opposed to a place of mindfulness and authenticity.
Authentic motivation should be positive and centered in your identity. Fear-based motivation can be effective when trying to accomplish short-term goals if you’re someone who acts well under pressure, but for long term goals that require room for error and perseverance, I wouldn’t recommend it. Mindful motivation is motivation by way of grace and love for self. Instead of it being punitive, it’s loving. Instead of making you feel guilty, it permits you to be patient and solution-oriented.
Below I’ve listed 5 Tips to Stay Mindfully Motivated During this Pandemic.
5. Understand That Not All Spare Time Needs to be Filled
If you find that you have a few hours to spare in your day and you choose to relax, that’s okay. During this pandemic, free time that’s not being used to do something productive can cause you to feel anxious or lazy. These are feelings of guilt, and they don’t help you stay motivated. If anything, they drain you. Relaxing is an opportunity to refuel and refocus. Your free time doesn’t necessarily have to be used up by you moving around. Bust out a guided visualization meditation on YouTube. Burn some incense. Crack open that book you’ve wanted to finish. Make some tea and chill out. These are all productive things that you can do that don’t come with the guilt of not moving or making money.
4. Connect with Loved Ones Who Speak Life Into You
This one can be tricky because, at times, our loved ones are the people who add to the pressure and guilt we might feel if we’re not moving at a certain speed. Nevertheless, connecting with the people who you care for and who bring you peace can help you re-center and put things back into perspective. Each time I speak with my sister, I feel a bit more motivated. She’s my person. If there’s someone in your life who grounds you, motivates you with love, and doesn’t stress you out, connect with them. It doesn’t have to be about your goals, or anything related to what you’re working on. Sometimes talking to that person can bring you a sense of balance and serenity. It can also relieve some pressure that you’re feeling, and you can leave that conversation reinvigorated and ready to tackle the world.
3. Take a Walk in Nature without your Phone or put in on DND
Do this is a safe time of day. Wear your mask. Practice social distancing.
Studies show that walking in nature can make you feel more alive. Now and then I go for a walk or a run in the park near my house. I take my headphones out and listen to the wind pass through the branches. Watch the birds zip from tree to tree. According to Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, “nature is fuel for the soul.” Unplug from the phone, laptop, and tablets and experience nature and give yourself a natural boost of energy.
2. Try something new without pressuring yourself to be an expert at it
If you’re interested in learning a new skill or trade or whatever, try it without the pressure. Try looking at this new thing as a friendly game that you want to see if you’ll enjoy it. No pressure to be an expert at it. Most people aren’t experts at things that they don’t love or have a deep affinity for. To build that love and affinity, it has to start with you enjoying what you do. What better way to learn how to enjoy something than trying it with an expectation to just have fun with it. A lot of the time, we are the ones who overwhelm ourselves with pressure to be perfect at things, especially during a pandemic, where you might have more free time than usual. Take it easy. Approach this new thing with love and an expectation to have fun with it.
1. Build one healthy habit in your day
Showing to stay mindfully motivated is a form of self-love. Self-love is something that we must actively practice. It takes work. This type of work doesn’t have to be intimidating. Establishing one healthy habit in your day is a great way to remind yourself that you’re loved. Showing yourself love creates a healthy foundation for when you want to venture out and take on some challenging tasks. This healthy habit can be drinking a certain amount of water per day. Making sure you get some fresh air. Or, it could be waking up and drinking your favorite flavor of tea. These acts of self-love affirm your ability to create habits that nurture your motivation as opposed to applying pressure on yourself.
In closing, whatever you’re working on while you’re quarantined, do it with love and grace. Detach from the pressure that comes via these social media videos and posts that use guilt and shock value to try to inspire. Investing love in yourself is the best way to stay mindfully motivated and connected to your goals, both short term and long term.