As you're reading this, you probably have a laundry list of things to do (perhaps including actual laundry) that keep piling up for a time when you're "less busy." Some of these tasks are mundane chores that we all avoid, but, sadly, oftentimes we put off doing the very things we know will make us feel happier, healthier, and more balanced.
We catch ourselves thinking, When I have more time, I'll start working out, cooking healthy meals, searching for a better job, catching up with friends, taking a photography class, etc.
But the truth is, although many of us have hectic schedules, sometimes being "too busy" is just a convenient excuse. So if you're tired of putting your happiness on hold, read on for seven ways to get motivated and start taking charge of your life.
1. Understand what you're avoiding.
Whether we know it or not, we often avoid making changes because we're afraid: afraid of searching for a new job because it might be worse than the misery we know; afraid of starting a weight-loss program because it might not work; afraid of putting ourselves first because it might upset the dynamic of our relationships.
If this sounds familiar, know that fear is a natural part of making changes. Rather than letting your fear paralyze you, acknowledge it and set an intention to move forward anyway, because your happiness is worth the effort.
2. Let go of expectations.
How many times have you contemplated starting an exercise regimen only to talk yourself out of it because you can’t devote as much time to it as you think you should? Instead of giving yourself permission to work out three days a week, you scrap the whole exercise thing because you can’t make time to work out daily.
Often, our own unrealistic expectations prevent us from accomplishing important goals. If we can’t do something “perfectly,” we’d rather not do it at all. Instead of letting that pressure keep you from trying something new, let go of expectations and do what you can.
3. Identify time sucks.
We all complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but think about how you’re spending your time and how you can better manage your schedule. Nowadays, it’s so easy to lose hours each day to social media, online shopping, and binge-watching Netflix shows (I know I’m not the only one who powered through House of Cards in a weekend).
While there's nothing wrong with a streaming marathon every now and then, begin to notice exactly how much time each day you're falling victim to time sucks, and start to scale back.
4. Make balance a priority.
One of the reasons we get burned out is because we don't have enough balance in our lives, and when we’re super-busy, self-care is typically the first thing we cut from our schedules. Ironically, the times when we’re most busy are probably when we need self-care the most. Start to reprioritize your schedule and make room for activities you enjoy so you can find a healthier balance.
5. Make yourself a priority.
While you're at it, stop putting everyone else’s needs before your own. If you're constantly bending over backward for a friend who never returns the favor, or taking on more than your share at work, you won't have enough time to devote to nurturing your relationship with yourself. Setting better boundaries in relationships and at work will help you create more space in your life to make your own goals a priority.
6. Enlist a buddy to help.
Whether you've been thinking about training for a marathon, or contemplating a career transition, finding support from friends and family can go a long way toward keeping you committed to your goals. Find a running buddy to make those early morning runs more tolerable, or ask a trusted friend to review your résumé and give you feedback.
7. Start with small changes.
Making major life changes can be daunting, which is why it's easy to get overwhelmed by the “what ifs,” and remain stagnant. If you want to make some changes and don't know how or where to begin, start small. Check out yoga videos online before committing to a studio; cook one healthy meal at home this week rather than ordering in; meet with a career counselor if you're contemplating a career change. You’ll soon find that these small steps will build the momentum you need for bigger change.
For more on getting motivated and amping up your productivity, start here: