First Nations Health Directors Association

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A Mentorship Minute – Episode #3: Motivation

April 1st, 2022

Welcome back to A Mentorship Minute – a new monthly blog from FNHDA!

Last month I shared some thoughts around practicing self-compassion when working towards our wellness goals. This month I am thinking about motivation, or more specifically, finding a way to walk comfortably in a middle ground between finding excuses for inaction, and forcing myself into a state of full-steam ahead high gear!

Feeling proud after completing the 2021 Virtual Vancouver Sun Run – my first 10K!

Don’t get me wrong – I am a huge fan of giving ourselves permission to ‘be lazy’. Our lives are often way too full of things to do, places to go, checklists to get through and all the pressure that comes with juggling multiple roles in a busy world (you know what I’m talking about!). Sometimes the most amazing gift we can give to ourselves is an hour, or a day, of sweet, sweet nothing.

However, I am also dedicated to working to be my Best Self. Sometimes this means recognizing when I am a little stuck or noticing when I feel like I am not living up to my potential, and then committing to doing something about it. I find that what works for me is to focus on how I want to feel – what a ‘better me’ looks like. There are often several actions I could take to get there, and by concentrating on my goal this leaves me free to explore which course or actions I can stick to.

If you are like me, you start off Very Committed to your new goal; armed with research on the benefits of building my new healthy habit, and inspired by positive thoughts about how amazing I am going to be/feel/look, I tell myself I can DO this! I can do this Every Day! I am Super Woman! Then, days or weeks later, the initial fire has died down, and my fantastic ambitious plan seems, well, like too much effort.

Motivation can be elusive, so here are some tips to keep in mind when you want to make a new habit and stick with it:

  • Build momentum: Do one thing, even if it seems small. Taking that first step is hard, but once you are moving towards your goal, you begin creating momentum – the more momentum, the less effort required to keep moving. Think of motivation as the starter motor, and momentum as the engine that keeps you going.
  • Motivation is a habit: creating a ritual or routine leading up to the habit you are trying to build is a great way to shift your brain into gear. Try and incorporate movement into your ritual – moving our bodies is naturally energizing, and makes it easier for our brains to transition. Or ground yourself with a Cultural or spiritual ritual that clears your mind and helps you stay present. This can be as simple as starting your bedtime routine with a short meditation and a good stretch, or doing a little jig in your kitchen while you fill your water bottle and choose an affirming podcast to listen to on your evening walk. In time, the moment you begin the ritual your brain and body are prepped to Do the Thing. Now you don’t need willpower and motivation, you just need to start your routine.
  • The Goldilocks Rule: We are at our most motivated when working on a task that is just-about-but­-not-quite out of reach. Too hard and we give up, too easy and we get bored and abandon the task. When you feel motivation waning, consider whether you have drifted out of the Goldilocks zone, and reset yourself to reach just enough to get your mojo back.
  • Pick your measuring stick carefully: Timely positive reinforcement is key to staying motivated, so think about what you decide to measure. For example, eating a more balanced, healthy diet may not immediately result in weight loss or a smaller pant size, so instead you can choose to celebrate that you feel more energized, or wake up feeling more refreshed.
  • Don’t believe everything you think: Change is hard, and sometimes we are tired or uncomfortable. Giving up seems so much easier. These are just thoughts – we don’t have to do it just because we think it. Instead we could focus on how good we will feel about ourselves for accomplishing something, or we can remind ourselves that the task is not going to last forever, and we can look forward to a reward when it is over.

Recently I have been paying attention to what really works for me. I have been working on consistently being more active because I love hiking with my daughter and I want to be able to keep up with her! I schedule a workout twice a week, and am working on a ritual that helps me achieve a lunch-time run two or three days a week. I have also discovered that I am a bit of a stats nerd, so I use a fitness tracker to tally my distance, speed, and heart rate – believe it or not I look forward to checking out the graphs and I feel great when I make progress!

What helps you get and stay motivated? Do any of these ideas resonate with you? The FNHDA Journey to Wellness cards are another great source of ideas for building healthy habits and taking care of yourself – pick a card for inspiration, or visit the Head to Heart website to learn more!

See you next month for another Mentorship Minute, and Happy Motivating!

As a former Health Director and FNHDA Senior Specialist, my role is to provide support to Health Directors – whether you have a question about navigating the health governance structure, are looking for resources, have a Wise Practice or training idea you want to share, or pretty much anything at all – please drop me a line – I look forward to connecting with you!!

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