Motivation doesn’t strike by waving a magic wand or by drinking a special elixir. It isn’t something you’re born with, and you don’t stumble upon it by accident.
True motivation requires a strategy. A strategy that you can rely on when the going gets rough. And of course, if you are learning anything worthwhile – if you are striving for something great – then the going will almost certainly get rough at one time or another.
Whether you’re in the middle of a guitar course, mastering a new language, or studying ballet – you may hit seasonal slumps or encounter scheduling roadblocks. That’s when a motivation strategy will be more important than ever.
One of those times is mid-winter – during that tough, cold stretch between the holidays and springtime. Long after the New Year’s resolution spirit fades, the middle of winter requires a carefully honed motivation strategy to keep you on track.
Let’s take a look at three proven ways to build a motivation strategy. Apply these tips to your life and stay inspired on the harshest winter day.
1. Revisit the Reasons
Whether it’s singing, sewing, or mathematics; there are personal reasons why you chose to pursue that specific skill. There was a driving force, a spark of inspiration, and a deep-held impetus that set you on the path you’re on today.
It’s essential revisit those reasons in winter; to remind yourself why you’re running at sunrise, practicing the piano after work, or reciting Greek verbs before bedtime.
“Keep that list close by and within sight every day – stick it on your refrigerator, or post it above your bed.”
Sit down with a pen and paper, and make a list of the reasons why you started this journey. Keep that list close by and within sight every day – stick it on your refrigerator, or post it above your bed. A visual reminder of your personal motivation story will re-energize your learning and keep you on pace to reach your goals.
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2. Visualize the Outcome
Even on the brightest summer day, it can be hard to see the big picture – hard to imagine life beyond the current moment. During the mid-winter months, our ability to put circumstances into context is further challenged by seasonal struggles. When you experience a winter slump, it’s extra important to stretch your imagination.
Make time to sit down with a warm mug of tea and picture – very clearly – what it is you want. Go a step further and either draw a sketch of yourself achieving your goal, or write an outline describing what life will look like when you reach the finish line. A morning exercise of putting pen to paper will fuel your motivation for the day ahead.
“Draw a sketch of yourself achieving your goal, or write an outline describing what life will look like when you reach the finish line.”
Perhaps your goal is to have a real conversation in Hungarian or dance salsa at a club competition. The process of visualizing yourself living your dream is a powerful reminder of why you are doing what you’re doing right now. And that will make all those hours of practice and study more meaningful than ever.
3. Evaluate Your Toolbox
When you’re in the thick of your learning journey, you will likely experience a mixture of successes and hardships; elements that are working well and items you are struggling with. Mid-winter is the time to evaluate what you need to improve your experience.
“Taking the time to pause and evaluate can help you identify problem areas. Use this newfound perspective to enhance your toolbox and motivate your efforts.”
Start by making a list of what’s working. List all the tools you have that are helping you thrive. These tools could include a great vocal instructor or a well-equipped writing desk. Create this list with an attitude of gratitude for what has helped you come this far.
Then, make a wish list of the tools you still need – learning resources that could make your education more effective. Maybe you realized that you need a dedicated mentor, or that you would like a study buddy on the weekends. This list could also include tangible items like a new musical instrument or physical space for practicing.
Taking the time to pause and evaluate can help you identify problem areas. Use this newfound perspective to enhance your toolbox and motivate your efforts.
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