Finding your fire

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Recently a friend asked for help in locating her missing motivation. She has a deep desire to get healthier, but faces an uphill battle against stress and fatigue.

“I have tried,” she explained, “setting my alarm early, putting my clothes out the night before and getting up and going. But I end up setting my alarm for an hour later and going back to sleep. I get mad at myself everyday and wish I had gotten up.”

I applaud anyone who is asking herself or himself what she or he may do to create the existence they desire. Such questioning shows a craving for life and the enjoyment of it. This is where motivation begins. If you are brave enough to set goals and work toward them, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back…and lighten up on yourself when you suffer a setback.

If you are feeling hopelessly mired, rule out the organic first. Prolonged episodes of stress and exhaustion can mean depression, which may be turned right side up with help. Sometimes our hormones or other internal chemistries can also get out of whack and make us feel depleted. If the odds you are facing seem insurmountable, begin by visiting your doctor and discussing what you are experiencing.

Stress may be a sign that something isn’t working in your life and is crying out to be remedied. If this is the case, be extremely discerning. Precisely identify the issues that cause your duress and take them on eye to eye. Don’t blame others, but get rid of what isn’t working in your life to make room for what will. The perfect and new will not arrive as long as you cling to the dysfunctional and old.

Stress also occurs when our days get clogged with clutter. Clutter objects, clutter paper, clutter activities and clutter obligations can claim our waking hours and leave us with little time or energy for what is really important. Mercilessly sort the clutter from the essential. When clutter tries to claim your time and space, recognize it for what it is and send it straight to the dumpster…or recycle bin.

Sometimes stress is a result of plainly doing too much. We are stretched too thin and then we shame ourselves for what we are not doing. It is a crazy and unfulfilling cycle. Let’s face it, we likely can’t get everything we want, but we can get what we need…but only when we truly know what it is that we need. Make an honest and brief list of your priorities. Then cultivate the ability to say “no” to additional obligations that do not advance your priorities.

There is no other way to polish the apple, sometimes feeling stressed and tired is largely the result of remaining sedentary. It is hard to be inspired to change when we cannot see the future for the present. If this is the case, I advocate a suck-it-up month. Pick four consecutive weeks in which you will stick to a workout regimen without fail. Don’t think about it, don’t question it, don’t rationalize it…just do it. Then, at the end of the month see if you haven’t sent some lethargy packing.

I do not usually advocate changing consumption habits prior to establishing workout goals and routines. However, excessive caffeine, sugars and lack of essential bits and bobs our body needs to thrive can cause us to feel sluggish. If you suspect that your lack of get up and go might be a result of what you put in your tank, try a couple weeks of healthy eating and sleeping to see if you can rev up your engine before heading to the gym.

The next – and most important – step is finding your fire…your passion. Not your passion for another, but your passion for your own life. If you begin with what you truly love and slowly build a life around it, you will achieve great satisfaction and joy. No matter what you want to achieve, nothing is stopping you except excuses. Push them aside, you don’t need them anymore…you have your passion to propel and protect you. Get inventive and find ways to – step by step – turn your passion into your life.

Once you get started, remember that most of us stick to things far longer when we are motivated by love of what we are doing rather than by punishment for what we have done. It is self-love rather than self-loathing that most effectively and lastingly keeps us trying. So give up the coulda, woulda, shouldas and celebrate what is and what will be.

Don’t work against the clock. Whether you are up with the sun or howl at the moon, schedule your self-improvement sessions in synch with your biorhythms. You’ll have better success and more satisfaction when you tune in and get down to the beat of your body.

As always, participate in activities that you really enjoy and try to incorporate time to do them with friends. Friends keep us accountable, provide great insights and perspectives and are a heck of a good time.

Along the way, there will be bumps, bruises, brick walls and even boredom. Pain and challenges are obvious and often inspire us to push ourselves harder. But when boredom shows up, it is a clear sign that something needs to change. Sometimes it is a change in regimen, sometimes in direction, sometimes in goals and sometimes in attitude. We determine our success. So, whatever gets in your way, dig out the dissatisfaction, rekindle your passion and begin again.

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