We all experience challenging times, hardship, shortcomings and as we’re moving forward from COVID for many life is going to be different from now on. Perhaps you’ve been made redundant, taken a pay cut, moved countries or back home for this next part of your journey. Some of you haven’t seen family, friends for months and we still don’t know when we’ll get to see them next – especially if you’re living in a different country from them. Times can seem bleak when a lot is out of our control but I want to help you keep motivated – motivated to keep moving forward with what ever is most important to you and to help you refocus your energy into the controllable.
Dealing with emotions:
First of all we need to adopt some self-compassion, recognise your feelings are real, write them down, share them with someone you trust. Avoiding feelings and putting on a brave face doesn’t do any good. To show yourself compassion it’s important to not undermine your feelings but it’s equally important to not over dramatise them (remember a lot of people will be or have experienced what you are going through). An example is “I feel sad I’ve lost this job, I enjoyed it, the people were great and I loved the lifestyle that come with it, but I know Covid is changing the lives of so many, and the economy has been hit hard so it was always a possibility this would happen, and if I’ve managed to find a job I like before I’ll be able to do it again one day.”
“I’m angry I’ve been made to take a 50% pay cut, I’m struggling to keep it together, Covid has hit the world hard, I know by taking this cut it’s helping me keep my job and I have that to be grateful for, this has taught me I’m able to live with a lot less and appreciate what I do have in my life.”
This way of dealing with your emotions is going to help you keep a healthy perspective of what’s going on, help you feel more hopeful rather than helpless, resulting in you doing more of what is in your control.
Future focused self-reflection:
Something that many of us do is spend time reflecting on what has happened by asking ourselves why “Why did I get made redundant and not so and so?” “Why did I not prepare an emergency backup plan?” “Why haven’t I saved any money to help me during times like this?” and so on…
If you do, this needs to stop, it might feel like you need the answers but this approach will actually make you feel worse and you’ll never get the answers you’re looking for. Asking why leads us to blame our flaws, shortcomings and reaffirm our negative beliefs ’I’m not good enough’ this approach is what’s going to lead to head down the rabbit hole of negativity, which if you’ve been there, you know is a sure way to lose motivation, reach for the chocolate or wine and give up!
What you need to be asking yourself is what – what is future focused, it helps us stay objective and empowered to take action.
So instead of “Why haven’t I saved any money to help me during times like this?” change to “What can I do to ensure I have an emergency saving pots in the future?” “With the resources I do have, what can I use to help me feel more financially secure in times like this?”
You’re going to help yourself find better ways to help you during these challenges and most importantly take more action – remember the thing with motivation is that motivation only comes from taking action, waiting to feel motivated is just not going to happen.
Calm your inner-critic:
If you do find yourself going down the rabbit hole of negativity or beating yourself up, the quickest way to shift your thoughts is to stop and ask yourself “What would I say to my best friend if she was going through this experience”. I’m pretty sure it would be a lot kinder, supportive and hopeful than you’re talking to yourself right now.
Something else to recognise is if you’re waiting for support from friends and family – “why is no one getting in touch to support me, no one cares about me”. Consider “What support and help do you need from them and what can you do to ask for this support and help?” Think about it, if a friend asked for you for help, I’m pretty sure you would do you best to help them, most people want to help, they just don’t know how, or don’t want you to think they think you can’t cope – so be transparent, open and honest, there is no need to go through this alone.
Let’s also remember our inner-critic is here to protect you, so if you are having more negative thoughts at the moment, remember it’s not that you’re not good enough or can’t cope – it’s just learning how to reframe your thoughts and to do this it could me taking conscious action to help yourself.
A couple of options include:
Repeating positive affirmations.
Challenging your limiting beliefs.
Writing a gratitude journal.
To succeed focus on one and commit to doing it everyday. Alongside this do more things that you can control, remember doing is going to spark motivation and keep it going. It could be down to the smallest routines such as getting up at the same time everyday, having a shower and putting your make-up on. You could use your routine to help you introduce a new habit such as writing a gratitude, this is called habit stacking, so for example, if you have a routine you always stick to such as getting out of bed, then a shower, get dressed and have a coffee you could stack gratitude writing ‘onto’ of your coffee, so coffee and journal. Consistency is key with a lot of things and if you can consistently do a positive psychology exercise such as keeping a gratitude journal everyday you are going to feel better, your wellbeing is going to increase, which will help you do more and ultimately feel more motivated to keep going.
Increase your self-confidence:
Let’s also be aware that change can trigger a confidence dip, if you’ve had a baby you may have noticed a knock in your confidence, or if you’ve been in a relationship that’s ended you’ve had to rebuild your confidence to go out and meet someone new, so check-in with yourself and if you are feeling less confident than normal now is a good time help yourself to increase it. A simple but powerful exercise is to write a list 20 things you like about yourself, try it! You can also keep an achievement log – this could be personal or professional whatever works for you and revisit everything you have a dip in self-esteem, and it could also be a good time to set yourself a challenge or goal, focus on something that will work for your circumstance and something you will enjoy doing, it could be to run a 5k or read a book, study or learn a new skill.
Do an environment audit:
In times like these it’s important to set boundaries – with your time, resources and the people you surround yourself with. Do an environment audit, write down where you’re spending your time, who you’re spending it with and the things you’re using to fill your time, then give it a check if it supports you during this time or if it is hindering you. This will help prompt action, for example if you have people in your life that are bringing you down or using up your energy, it’s time to start surrounding yourself with people that are going to lift you up and feel good about yourself.
The key is to implement what you’ve learnt today, start by focusing on what resonates most.
Heidi Jones coaches high-flying career women to take action to balance their health, happiness and career goals. Join her New Free Online Healthy Lifestyle & High Flying Career 5 Day Challenge and learn the tools to help you take control of the controllable. Follow @heidi_jones_coaching or visit her website heidijonescoaching.com
Listen to: The Heidi Jones Coaching Podcast