Covid Quarantine Quitter: In a Motivational Funk?

I’m curious, has been in quarantine made you want to give up, quit, or just generally lose motivation? I know for myself driving motivation has been a little more difficult in this time. With having to work and live at home there doesn’t seem to be a line from where the work is supposed to start and where the home life is supposed to begin.

I have heard from many people – clients, on Social, and on various blogs and pages I follow – that their motivation is taking a nose dive. Some folks are being so hard on themselves right now because they want to “use this time to do all the things they haven’t been able to get to” only to find themselves sitting on the couch with a bag of chips. And why, for goodness sake, are we eating so much junk food in a time when our health (therefore healthy eating) is supposed to be our number one priority? When I went to the grocery store during the first week of lockdown the chip aisle was empty but all of the fruits and veggies were fully available!

So, here are three key things that you need to be aware of about motivation and increasing it during this time of crisis.

Be Careful To Manage Your Expectations

Remember that this is a very strange time in our world. There has been a lot of change. Instead of feeling guilty, which does not motivate us in the correct way, why not try to manage your expectations more realistically?

For example, a time when your routines have been thrown out of whack doesn’t appear, at least to me, to be the very best time to expect yourself to be highly motivated.

Instead, why not learn about Choice Theory? Choice theory suggests that when our expectations, essentially the things that we believe will add quality to our lives, are not in line with reality we only have three choices.

  • Choose to change what you want. In other words, change your expectations to match reality.
  • Choose to change what you do. In other words, change your actions to get reality closer to your expectations. By the way, this only works when you are in control of the things that are available to you. It is reasonable to assume that some actions will be out of our control. For example, you cannot make COVID-19 go away simply by changing your actions.
  • Do both one and two.

If you decide not to choose one of the above three options then choice theory suggests that you are choosing to feel guilty, depressed, anxious, angry, frustrated, etc.

Check it out! It’s a very cool theory. And personally, I find it extremely empowering.

In short, expecting to be highly motivated during a time of great change might not be in line with reality depending on how your own personal performance model is structured.

Understand Your Motivation

James Sale, the creator of Motivational Maps, suggests that there are 9 Motivators that we are all driven by. He recently wrote an article about How to Support the 9 Motivators in a Time of Crisis. Here are some excerpts from that article.

Here are the 9 Motivators with their basic definitions.

Sale stresses that we can use Motivational Mapping to set a new vision for the next six months:

The first thing is that we must not panic. As with any stressful situation, the best response is not to react, but rather to think through what our new vision for the next six months might be, and how we can achieve it. A great tool for doing this, which Motivational Maps uses and is contained in detail in our book Mapping Motivation for Leadership co-written with Jane Thomas, a wellness expert, is called The Five Elements Model. Basically, it gets us to reflect on Where we are now (Check)? Where we do we want to be (Vision), How will we get there (Plan)? What resources are necessary (Facilitate)? And finally, What actions happen (Do)? The text then breaks this down into further action steps. 

Sales provides a helpful visual to understand how we might navigate ourselves, our peers, our staff and our businesses through this process:

Below is a slide of the 9 Motivators and ideas about how to respond to each one in a time of crisis.

By the way, if you are curious about how you are motivated, reach out to me. I am a Certified Motivational Map Practitioner and I have done more Motivational Maps with one on one clients than any other practitioner in North America. I’d be happy to help you assess and understand your motivation.

Increase Motivation During This Time

Here are my Top 10 Best Ways to increase motivation during this time:

  • Listen to your top three favourite songs that get you moving
  • Set a timer for a very short period of time, say 5 or 10 minutes, to work on tasks that aren’t enjoyable
  • Put gentle reminders in your way, for example, my gym clothes are on my nightstand. When I wake up in the morning they are the first thing I put on, it’s hard not to get into the mindset of going to the gym
  • Focus on and write down what was successful, this will build confidence and momentum for motivation
  • Remember that motivation is an emotion, it comes and goes.
  • If you want motivation increase your emotional state. Anger, frustration, excitement, drive, and elation are all emotions that create motivation (but not necessarily focus so choose yor emotion carefully)
  • Remove obstacles such as scrolling your life away on your phone, in fact, if you are struggling with motivation delete the apps off your phone altogether for a little while
  • Set up an accountability partner. It’s okay to use Zoom to have a workout session with a friend
  • Consider temptation bundling. For example, there are certain TV shows that I only allow myself to watch if I am on the treadmill.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make an attempt that fails

The Bottom Line

It is important to pay attention to our motivation during this time. And we can use this time to practice increasing our motivation. However, to expect too much of ourselves during a time of drastic change is likely only going to produce guilt. So, learn about your motivation, and practice techniques to increase your motivation, but also be realistic with where you are currently at.

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