what breaking my ankle taught me about motivation

It happens to everyone. Sometimes it’s just so damn hard to get motivated, am I right? Whether it be motivation to start a work project, organize your house, look for a new job, or whatever, feeling unmotivated can be debilitating and really make you feel stuck and crappy about yourself.

Last Spring I broke my ankle, and it was the beginning of a downward spiral for me. It took me a good 6 months to get out of the funk that it put me in but I learned a lot about myself during that time.

What happened was that I had to deal with LIFE. Like resting my ankle while getting the house ready for a big kitchen renovation, and helping with all the annoying little and big decisions that go into a renovation. And running my coaching business, seeing clients, networking, and doing all the stuff that moms do everyday. Next thing I knew, a month had passed without my having done much of anything work-wise to move my business forward.  I also wasn’t able to be as physically active as I normally am, and I didn’t have much energy. I realized I was in a funk and felt very unmotivated to do much of anything. It didn’t help that my home office was on the third floor and I had a huge 5 pound boot on my leg that made any extra steps a total pain in the butt (and ankle!).

I brought up my energy funk with a friend who is a psychologist and she gave me the tip of just doing one thing a day, starting immediately. Of course, I tell my clients that all the time, why hadn’t I thought of that? And that day I reached out to someone who had been thinking about working with me, but I hadn’t heard back from her. She responded to me right away that she was ready to meet and start coaching the following week. Yay! Baby steps.

The next day I started going to my physical trainer again. I had been going once a week up until my injury, but I didn’t think it was worth doing while my ankle was healing. Wrong! It felt so good to get my blood pumping and feeling strong again, which I didn’t think was possible with my limitations.

And the day after that I set up an appointment with my business coach to help me get back on track. I did one small thing a day and within a week I felt like I was back in action to a certain extent.

But guess what? I sabotaged all that good stuff with wanting everything I did to be perfect. I knew in my brain that perfection is the kiss of death for an entrepreneur, but it happened anyway, and only in hindsight am I able to recognize that, and that’s what I wanted to share with you.

Many of us tend to have an all or nothing mindset, and I am definitely one of those people. Because I couldn’t give my work 100%, I kept telling myself that I would do this or that once my ankle was better. And it’s July, so why start something new when all of my potential clients are away on vacation with their families, and my kitchen is still under construction? This is crazy talk, right? But it’s real, and I did it. I still was coaching the existing clients that I had, but I wasn’t doing any of the other things that go into running a business and getting new clients. In itself it would have been fine for me to take a few months off to deal with healing my body and taking care of my household, except that I had set goals for myself and I wanted to work on my business, and just could not make it all happen.

Fast forward to the Fall. My kitchen renovation was over. My ankle was back to normal. Summer was over. I had no more excuses and started getting motivated again. Remember the business coach I mentioned? I didn’t engage her once all summer, but we started having regular meetings again, and I just thank the good lord that this is behind me. But I know that it could happen again, and I want to be sure that doesn’t happen to me again, so I wanted to get down in writing what I learned through all of this. I hope it helps you in your journey, whether it be to start looking for a new job, start eating more healthily, or have more fun with your spouse!

Here are some actionable tips for what you can do when you are struggling with a lack of motivation:

  1. Supertip: Focus on just doing one thing each day. It can feel so overwhelming that you don’t know what to do first, so you do nothing at all. Do one thing a day, and that will move you forward over time. I even put really little things on my checklist because it feels so good to check stuff off the list!

  2. Get moving! Exercise, walk the dog, stretch, breathe, get the blood flowing. Get out of your head. Feeling strong and healthy in your body can totally change your frame of mind for the better.

  3. Don’t aim for perfection, it is the kiss of death. Aim for ‘good enough.’ You can always improve upon it later, but you need to start somewhere.

  4. Get out and connect with people. It feels amazing to feel heard and understood. And to laugh! I realized in my funk that I was feeling extremely lonely, but it was a self-fulfilling prophecy because I wasn’t reaching out to any of my friends or people in my network, because I just didn’t feel like it. No matter what my mood is now, I make sure to schedule coffee, lunch, drinks, whatever, at least once a week. That’s all it takes for me to feel connected.

  5. Importance of a routine. OMG, this is the secret sauce for me.  Schedule everything in your calendar, or it won’t get done. I have a Monday meeting with myself now every week to organize my to-do list, do meal planning for the week and block time in my calendar for when I am going to do specific tasks. This Monday meeting is the backbone for a successful week for me. It’s so important and I go to a co-working office on Mondays, which I have to pay for, to make sure that I don’t blow it off. Since I’m paying for the space, I go. And it’s been life changing, really.

Does the sight of this list make you feel even less motivated? Remember the Supertip, and just do one thing today. I know how frustrating it can be, and you can easily talk yourself out of it and believe that it won’t make a difference, but I know because I have been there. It really does make a difference if you do one thing a day consistently. But remember, it’s super important to not have an all or nothing mindset, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you skip a day. Just start back up the next day and keep moving forward. You got this!


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