Do you have those days when you just are not motivated or inspired to follow through on your good intentions? You’;re lethargic, stuck in procrastination, and just can not seem to get started. On days when I do not feel like meditating, exercising, writing, cooking healthy food, or doing anything I really need / want to do, I’;ve found a simple formula to get me going: low expectations and an easy warm-up .
I start with low expectations by telling myself, "If I do a little, that’;s good for today." I usually define "a little" as half or less of what I might normally do. For example, with exercise, it might be 10 minutes of cardio, instead of 30, and one set of 5 strength exercises, instead of two sets of ten exercises. With writing, I tell myself I’;ll just write a paragraph or two. Because I’;ve done more in the past, I know this less amount will be easy.
With my low expectations in place, I start with an even easier warm-up, something that feels like nothing at all. For exercise, I just start moving. This could be a walk or ride a stationary bike with little resistance. If I’;m writing, I start with one sentence of any quality. I just get something written down.
Once I’;ve gotten myself moving in this small, easy way, I often find the internal juices start to flow. With exercise, I begin to breathe a little deeper, feel a little looser, and my energy increases. With writing, ideas come to mind, associations click in, and I often find myself in the flow.
Invariably, I exceed my low expectations and end up feeling good about my efforts. I remember why I wanted to do what I’;m doing. It feels good. It’;s taking me somewhere I want to go. It helps me feel productive, purposeful, and alive! At this moment of feeling good, make sure you record this experience in your memory. Then, you can recall this positive feeling of "being in the flow" to support you to get going the next time.
Now, if I do a little exercise and a little writing every day, it’;s easier to stay in the flow. It’;s easier to be consistent with a small doable action. That’;s the power of having an intentional daily practice to grow something that’;s important to you-be it your health, relationships, business, art, or spiritual growth. Small consistent actions are the building blocks of big achievements. They’;re the key to deeper meaning, purpose, and productivity.
And, if I just do not feel like taking action – if I find myself procrastinating – I go back to my low expectations and easy warmup to get me going. If getting started is the hard part, make getting started as easy as possible.