Yesterday, I ran 3 miles for the first time in my life. I’m training for a 5k that takes place at the end of July and made it a point to run at least twice a week, but I never expected to run 3 full miles before July.
It all began when I got home from an hour of teaching swim lessons and was exhausted. But, I had planned to run afterward because I slept past my running time earlier that morning. So, no rest for me just yet–I tossed on my running gear and headed to the gym. When I arrived, I realized I forgot my headphones. I drove back home to grab them, then returned to the gym. I then spent about 10 minutes, or half a mile of walking, trying to connect my new Bluetooth headphones to my phone, to no avail. I was tired, matted with chlorine, and the only “music” I had was the faint pop tunes playing from the speakers and the screams of the surrounding workout machines. Out of frustration, I wanted to just return home and forget it all together, but instead, I decided to run a half-mile to burn off my pent-up energy.
I ran that half mile with only my thoughts to keep me company. The half-mile came and went, and soon enough I finished a full mile. Still feeling quite frustrated, I told myself to run another quarter, and then another, and then, bright and bold of my mind came the question, “Can I run 3 full miles?” It seemed impossible at the time, since I hadn’t even completed 2 miles and my calves were already achy, my breath sharp and shallow. I reminded myself that if it was too hard for me, I would continue to lower the speed of the treadmill and not judge myself for moving slower, and if need be, I could stop and walk the rest. But then again, I also reminded myself that I would feel so empowered if I pushed myself to my imaginary finish-line.
Because I had no headphones, I was completely aware of my body, the sound of my breath, and my thoughts. If my side cramped, I’d lower the speed and allow myself to jog until I felt better. I was aware of how negative my thoughts were. I hate this so much! Get me off this thing! I’m so tired! Every time I complained about the run, I’d shift my thoughts to kinder, more motivating thoughts. I would return to my body and realize that I didn’t really hate running, and I wasn’t that tired, and I could surely go on for longer. I would go out of my way to imagine how I’d feel when running 3 straight miles. For about 40 minutes, I ran, the only thing keeping me going being, well, me.
While running, I remember noting that there was a lot to learn from this experience. The biggest lesson I learned was that motivation comes from within and that motivation is always there. Maybe running 3 miles isn’t your cup of tea, but with any other goal, the message stays the same: If the goal is there, the motivation to do it is also there.
One of the things I did while running to keep myself going was compile a list of all of the ways I was motivating myself and continuing toward a goal that felt both impossible and hard. I also reminded myself that if I didn’t run 3 miles, I wouldn’t have a good enough example of my own self-motivation, haha.
In this post, I will be sharing all the ways in which I motivated myself to keep running when things got hard, and how we can all incorporate these tips into any project or task!
5 ways to be more self-motivated & get things done
1. Be your own cheerleader
As I mentioned earlier: the motivation comes from within. We can ask for approval and motivation from others, but the real thing that gets us started is our will to start. Find some motivational quotes or affirmations to repeat to yourself when you’re feeling stuck, and be kind to yourself when you’re struggling. My favorite affirmation when I’m pushing myself physically is, “I am strong.” Rather than judge yourself for not accomplishing enough as you’d like, applaud yourself for getting started, or getting at least a little bit done.
Tell yourself that you can do it! You can get out of bed early and go on that run! You can sit down and write! You can.
2. Set little goals and adjust as needed
Even though I made it a goal of running 3 miles, I encouraged myself to run just a quarter of a mile at a time. I officially began running when the treadmill said 0.65 miles (I was walking while trying to connect my headphones) so I’d push myself to reach 1.15, then 1.40, then 1.65, and so on. When I reached that next distance, I’d maybe slow down or speed up, take a sip of water and continue to the next distance. After every goal little goal, I adjusted as needed.
When the big goals seem too daunting, like running 3 miles, or writing a book, or launching a website, set little goals instead and focus on each one at a time. One quarter-mile at a time. One chapter, or writing session, at a time. One graphic at a time. By simplifying your goals, they seem much more manageable, and you’re more likely to self-motivate yourself into getting it done.
If the goals are still too daunting, adjust as needed, like I adjusted the treadmill speed. And don’t judge yourself for slowing down, either.
3. Shift your perspective
Our brain is constantly wired to think negatively and search for the bad, and it’s our job to not only reframe our thoughts but to snap out of our racing minds and focus on the now. When we push ourselves physically, our thoughts encourage us to stop because our mind doesn’t understand what we’re doing. Our mind picks up stress in the body and notices the new muscle groups moving in ways they haven’t before and flips out on us.
But, when we get out of our heads and work to look at things a little differently, things don’t seem as hard. When I returned to how my body felt and noticed the release of pent-up energy, the empowering and freeing feeling of running toward my goal, I felt much more inclined to continue
The same thing goes for overcoming writer’s block. Our mind hasn’t written anything new in a while and freaks out on us, not enjoying the use of new muscles in the brain. But, when we remind ourselves of the magic and excitement writing can bring, welcoming in flow and creativity, we can snap out of our overthinking.
When we work to reframe our thoughts and shift our perspective on things rather than remain stuck in our heads, thinking, thinking, thinking about how hard it is, how much we’d rather do something else, things seem a lot less daunting and perhaps even exciting. Be mindful of your thoughts and self-talk when working toward a goal, and mindfully shift them.
4. Visualize yourself completing your goal
What will it feel like when you accomplish your goal? What will it feel like to have everything done? How will you reward yourself?
Visualize yourself already finishing those daily tasks or that big goal of yours, and feel excited to get it done! While I was running, I kept focusing on my cool down, texting my boyfriend to tell him I had done it, and writing this post! Doing this every day, or at least whenever times seem hard or near-impossible, will help encourage you to keep going. Visualize where you want to be, and carefully work toward it.
5. Just keep running (and then reward yourself)
Even if you don’t feel like doing something, get up, and get started. Push through the mental blocks and avoid giving in to temptations like Youtube binging or stopping when things get only a little hard. In the end, all we really need to do is keep running, keep working toward what we need to do, and find ourselves in a state of flow while we’re doing it.
If you have a big goal you’ve been putting off, now is your time to get it done! Take this post as a sign to stop what you’re doing and make small goals toward what you desire. And when the doubt comes crawling in, remind yourself to just keep running. You know what you want, so go after it!
And of course, be sure to reward yourself when all is said and done. When I got off that treadmill, feeling proud but now peak-exhausted, I allowed myself to rest and play video games for as long as I wanted. Because I deserved it.
Even if your goal is small and accomplished within 15 minutes, reward yourself. Every milestone, no matter how small, is amazing in its own way.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Is there any goal you’re working toward? Tell me about it!
Have a lovely rest of your Sunday!