6 Things I Do To Stay Motivated

Motivation is a funny thing. People often treat it like it is something that just *appears* in fits or bursts. We all wait for the big wave so we can surf that sucker to a cleaner house, better eating habits, a more organized life or pursuit of our creative passions. And yes, this sometimes happens: a rogue wave inspiring you in the middle of a random afternoon. And when it does — of course, it’s awesome. But I like to think of motivation as more of a skill, or rather a technique that needs to be practiced. Motivation is your brain’s way of manipulating your body — and you should never lose sight of the fact that YOU hold the marionette strings!

The other day I asked the crowd on the Holly Would If She Could Facebook Page what they would like to read about, and a couple of you suggested writing about how I stay motivated — not just with exercise, but in life. So of course, I did the thing I love to do most — made a list! These are the tactics that I use to stay motivated.

1. Have a Vision In Mind

To the beach...

If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? Motivation is an abstract idea, so give yourself something concrete to work towards. What is it that you want to accomplish? What does your ideal look like at this moment? What do you want it to look like a year from now? 5 years from now?

Give yourself a minute to think, and when you are done – say it out loud. Say it to your spouse, to your friends, to your mom, to anyone who will listen. Make your vision public. My dad used to always say “If you can see it, you can be it.” He would generally say this the night before my dance competitions or cheerleading competitions when he was suggesting I visualize, and man I just thought that was the silliest thing. But I was a teenager, and what the hell do they know? Not. Freaking. Much.

Also: Give yourself permission to change your mind. Your vision doesn’t need to be permanent, and if it is not working for you — MAKE A NEW ONE. I think this is where a lot of people get caught up and therefore de-motivated. If you’re not excited to do what you are doing, maybe you need to be doing something new. Now go figure out what that something is instead of wasting precious time! :)

2. Stay Focused on You

Saturday Sparkle

I think the first thing to recognize is that you can’t do All The Things.

Nope, let’s try that again. I want you to REALLY mull that over in your brain. Everyone says they recognize this, and then continues to look at the lives of others and think “Why can’t I run my own business//workout every day// have a better paying job // live in a house that could grace the pages of Elle Decor // look fashionable every moment of the day?”

You will never get anywhere (nor will you feel motivated to get anywhere) if you are constantly comparing you at your worst to to others at their best. Are you guilty of this? Quit that right now! Because here’s the thing (and I know I say this all the time, but it bears repeating): You can have it all, but not all at once. And if you have a vision, but you allow yourself to be distracted by what everyone else is doing, you are giving away your energy!

3. Cultivate Seeds of Inspiration

Tomatoes (I think) that need to be caged at some point

Read books related to your vision
Seek out a mentor
Watch an movie where triumph is a theme
Make a new Pinterest Board
Listen to good music
Call your mom (or someone else who sees you through rose colored glasses!)
Talk to new people
Take a chance

Whatever it takes — but you must, YOU MUST, get in touch with that feeling inside of you. We all have it, but it takes work to allow yourself to be a conduit for inspiration. Do the work. And if you are not feeling inspired, seek out a different route.

4. Recognize When It’s Time for Input and When It’s Time For Output

Pretty much how I spent every morning

Motivation is just as much about being as it is about doing, but I think sometimes we forget that. Sure everything looks glossy when you are in the midst of kicking ass and checking things off lists but if you don’t shut down and recharge the batteries every once in a while your inspiration conduit will short circuit. And nobody feels motivated when their brains are fried!

Allowing yourself to get to that point is like actively sending out an invitation to malaise. And malaise is not a good party guest. This is the piece of motivation that I struggle with the most, but it is definitely worth keeping in the back of your mind. It’s easy to forget that giving yourself downtime ensures that when you get ready to execute, you fire on all cylinders.

5. For The Love Of God, Make A List

But don’t just keep To-Do lists. Keep LOTS of lists. I have lists of tasks, ideas, quotes, random thoughts, tv shows I want to watch from the beginning, blog ideas, artists who inspire me, outfits I want to wear, paint colors I like, chores that need to be done, hairstyles I want to try out, novels I want to flesh out. If I’ve thought of it, I probably have a list for it. Lists help me keep from using getting distracted.

But here’s the thing: They aren’t always organized. I didn’t come up with surefire system. They aren’t alphabetical or filed by order of importance. But they are written down on paper. They are out there in the Universe. Most importantly they are expelled from my brain, freeing up valuable space in my mind. I can feel comforted by the fact that if I flip to a piece of paper my ideas will be there. It’s like a running tally of motivational fuel just waiting to be used.

6. Set Deadlines and Provide Rewards

Words. #febphotoaday

Generally if something sits on a To-Do list I’ve made and I don’t get around to it, I use that as an indicator that it’s time to re-think my vision. But ultimately there are those times when we need to get motivated to things to that CAN’T be excised from the list. What motivates me on that stuff?

A deadline and a reward.

For example “Do your taxes” has been languishing on my list for quite a bit of time. So I’ve picked a date that will give me plenty of time to just get it over with; however if I get it done BEFORE that date, I get to go try on some hot pink denim. And I reeeeeeeeeeally want to know if I LOVE hot pink denim on as much as I love it in pictures. But not until I get my taxes done! As a result, I’ve been trying to squeeze in doing my taxes at every possible free moment. :) Sure, they aren’t done yet. But they will be. OH THEY WILL BE. Because Holly *needs* a good shopping trip in her life!

Holly also needs to stop talking about herself in 3rd person. YUCK.


So those are my favorite tips. What have you got for me? Heck, what have you got for all of us? This is group therapy here, folks!

Tell me one thing that you do to keep motivated when going gets tough?

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6 comments to 6 Things I Do To Stay Motivated

  • Joann
    March 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I talk to myself to pump myself up. Like, “let’s DO this” “you are awesome”. Also, I never thought this would ever help me, but I place inspirational quotes where I can see them. So if I am feeling down, I look up and see one and am re-focused and re-motivated.

  • Jesabes
    March 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Awesome post, Holly!

    To get motivated at work I (shhh) put a dvd in my computer and play it in the background. I get super bored when I just work, then end up messing around on the internet. If I have something on in the background (something I’ve seen many times and don’t have to pay much attention to) it occupies just enough of my brain that the rest can be filled with work and not daydreaming. Plus, the time goes fast!

  • katie
    March 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    i love your blog. there were several things in this post i really need to read.
    thank you. katie

  • Misty Jean
    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I have issues with being unmotivated to do things that I know are not my strengths. I try to keep in mind that I can’t be the best at everything, and if I don’t try then I won’t ever get there either.

  • PinkieBling
    March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Like Jesabes said, music is a HUGE motivator for me. It gets me through work, cleaning, shopping, cooking, getting ready, and working out.

    I also like to keep track of how far I’ve come, when it can be measured. When I did my bikini competition, I took weekly pictures. When I didn’t feel like I could keep going, I would look back at the series of pictures, realize how much progress I had already made, and it refueled my intent to go further.





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