Getting Motivated: 3 Quick Tips
Today I am going to share three quick tips for getting motivated to do something that scares you. I’m sure you have something that you really want. What is that goal that would be awesome to achieve but that’s kind of scary? For gymnasts, figure skaters, and cheerleaders, it’s probably a big skill, a big level, or a big meet It’s something that makes you think, “That would be cool, but it’s a little out of my comfort zone.”
If you’re dragging your feet about it or avoiding it, I’m going to give you three things that you can do to get motivated, to get a little fire under your butt and make it feel a little more possible.
1. Make a decision that you’re going to do it and then stop thinking about it
This makes me think about when I did a whole bunch of personal growth stuff and leadership training. One of the things we did was a ropes course. The course had all high ropes and we did climbing, jumping off trees and catching trapezes, and a bunch of scary stuff. It’s scary on purpose because the whole point is to get you out of your comfort zone. I remember when I had to climb up this 50-foot tree that was lopped off at the top. It was about like the size of a small dinner plate at the top. Basically, you’re supposed to climb up this 50-foot tree, stand on something the size of a little plate, then jump off and catch a trapeze.
The gymnast in me thought, “I know I can do this physically. I know I can get up there and I can balance,” but the scared gymnast in me thought, “Shoot, I don’t like heights and that’s terrifying.” But I was there, and wanted to get the most out of it and push myself, so I told myself, “I’m doing it.” When they asked who wanted to go first, my hand shot up. Before I even had a second thought about it, I was up that tree.
I went for it!
When I got up there, I realized what I had just done, and I just lept. I grabbed that trapeze! If I would have stood there and thought about it, uncertainty would have hit. So, if you just go before you have a chance to think about it, it’s done. Then, the amazing thing about it is that fear that you’re feeling in anticipation, that’s all made up in your mind. I was so proud of myself, to this day that has crystallized in my memory as something that made me grow and that fear was gone.
It’s okay to be scared. Just take a breath and leap.
Now, if you don’t have the luxury of doing it right away, then the best thing to do is to figure out some strategies to stop thinking. Trying to stop your thinking is like trying to stop a wave. You know it’s going to happen. Thinking is going to keep coming. Thoughts are going to come, so here are a couple of things you can do to ignore the thoughts.
Get yourself in the moment
The “what ifs” are in the future. If you think about what went wrong in the past, you’re in the past. If you’re in this moment right here, everything’s okay. When I was standing there next to that big tree, I could have been looking down at the ground at all the foliage, I could have felt my feet on the ground. I could have moved my feet a little and heard the crunch crunch crunch of the leaves.
Meditation works, too. That may sound kind of intense if you’re not familiar with it, but if you just do something as simple as redirecting your thinking to the present moment, that’s meditation. So if you’re going into “what if” land, and then you come back to your breathing, which is happening right now, you just meditated. If you’re thinking about the past, and then you take a breath and feel it come and go, you’re back in the moment. That’s it. It can be that simple.
One of my favorite meditations is the balloon meditation. You imagine that every thought that comes is going into a balloon in your mind. You start with this image of a blue sky above, and then you’re breathing, imagining the blue sky. Anytime a thought crosses your mind, you imagine it in a balloon. For me, the balloons were always red, but they can be whatever color you want. On the balloon is the title of it, like “worry”. Label the thought however appropriate. Then you let go of the balloon in your mind and you watch it drift up into that blue sky. It keeps going up, up, up and gets smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. Some of them are really persistent and they just keep getting smaller, but you can still see them, then finally they disappear and it’s just you in a blue sky again.
You might have a whole bunch of balloons at once. You might have seven thoughts at once and then you have this whole bunch of balloons and you let it go, and then you’re back to a clearest clear blue sky again.
2. Get excited
The second way that you can get motivated to do something that scares you is to get excited about it. Now, when you are freaking out, you have a high energy level. You’re jittery, you might be a little tense, your breathing sort of speeds up your heart, starting to pound. Your energy is high. If somebody tells you “calm down”, it’s not so easy to take a very high energy physiological situation and just turn the volume down. Those meditations, getting present, those are some things that can help, but a much quicker way to get yourself motivated again is to get excited because that’s also high energy. It’s positive high energy rather than negative high energy.
Positive vs. Negative Energy
If you’re in this high energy, you want to take it to, “Oh yeah, this is going to be good! This is going to be so fun. I am so good at grabbing trapezes. I’m such a good climber. Oh my gosh. Let me up there! I don’t want to wait one more second to do this.”
“Get Excited” Research Study
There’s a research study that I referenced all the time. It’s called “Get Excited”. The whole point of this study was to check out the difference in performance that happens when you are nervous, when you’re excited, or neutral. They split this group of people into three different groups. One group was supposed to do these scary tasks like singing karaoke in front of a judge, taking a math test, and playing a video game. They’re supposed to do those three tests tasks while thinking “I’m so nervous”. Then, they figured out how well they performed.
The second group did the same three tasks, but they were supposed to think “I’m excited”, then they did those three tasks and we’re judged on it. The last group is supposed to think about something neutral, like chili cheese fries, and then they did their three tasks. When they got the scores back, the group that did the worst was the nervous group. They did significantly worse than either of the two groups. The group that did the best was the excited group. The other group was somewhere in the middle. So, it’s been proven –
Switching your thinking from “I’m so nervous” to “I’m excited” can completely change your ability to perform well.
So if you’re scared, you probably want to do well. Get excited.
3. Start small and aim big
When you have a big, scary, meaty goal ahead of you, start with something little. Maybe the first thing you want to do is climb up a little tree. I am all about baby steps. Everybody in PerformHappy knows I am all about baby steps. That means not having this all or nothing mindset. If you take baby steps, you start to get used to it and you start to go, “Oh, I am actually good at this. This is not that scary. This is not that hard.” You have more of those experiences of going, “Oh, I’m so nervous,” and then it’s over, and you realize it wasn’t so bad.
Then, you start to gather up all this motivation and momentum and you realize, “Hey, I can totally do this. Yes, it’s still scary. Yes, I’m still going to need to clear my mind. I’m still going to need to get excited and kind of pump myself up about it, but I’ve taken enough responsible, calculated risks to know that I can take a breath and leap.”
Get motivated today!
Hopefully, you’ve gotten some motivation out of what I said today. I can’t wait to hear what you’re going to try to get motivated! I know a lot of you are getting ready for competition then, which can be scary. So – make a decision, stop thinking about it, get excited, and then just set some small goals and start climbing toward that big one. I will see you soon.!