I’ve lost my mojo.
I can’t get motivated.
I used to enjoy what I’m doing, now it just seems like a chore.
As a health and performance coach, these types of laments are familiar. Often, they are why clients come to us, and inevitably we witness these slumps whilst people are working with us too – it’s normal. I’ve had periods where I’ve lost my mojo, and whilst I too accept its part of the journey, there are several strategies you can adopt to get back on track.
You can apply the advice in this blog post to any area of your life – although I am writing specifically with health, fitness and nutrition in mind. But really, getting back on track and into winning ways requires the same practices, principles and philosophies, so whatever’s going on for you, this post should help.
Let’s review some of the common reasons why your mojo has gone for a walk, and what you can do about it
You’re in a velvet rut
Life is comfortable, and you’re doing well; the only problem is it feels a bit samey. Chances are you’re in the velvet rut. Yes, you’re moving forwards but it’s too comfortable, and there’s no scope for lateral movement. Why is this a problem? Well I think we need the ability to change direction every so often, and to move into different zones (especially your discomfort zone). This means not getting too comfortable or complacent and challenging yourself. According to the life coach Tony Robbins, one of our fundamental human needs is variety, and a lack of that can lead to a loss of motivation and inspiration – or mojo.
The simplest way to regain your mojo is to dial down what you’re doing for a few weeks, and bring in something new. Let me give you a personal example; I’ve been going to the boxing gym twice a week for over a decade, only skipping sessions if I’m on holiday. Inevitably, there are sometimes weeks when I need to change it up, so I’ll drop down to one session a week and take up yoga or tennis. Also, reconnect with your why – your purpose in doing the exercise or following an eating pattern. What is your intent, why are you doing this? These three powerful questions will help you reconnect with your why.
You have a lack of energy
Signs of a lack of energy include apathy, fatigue and anhedonia (a loss of pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy). If someone has lost their enthusiasm or motivation, I’ve observed that it tends to correlate with an increase in energy demands elsewhere.
The amount of energy (and ability to endure stress) is finite, and needs to be replenished. Imagine energy is contained in a jar; if we put ourselves through a tough HIIT (high intensity interval training) session, then energy from that jar gets used. If we are already tired and stressed prior to the workout, that jar might only be 70% full. Let’s say the HIIT session used up 30%, now there’s 40% energy left for the other things you have to do. There isn’t a separate energy jar for work, one for home and one for health and fitness. It all comes from the same jar, so practice self-awareness and spend a few minutes each morning considering how well-recovered you feel. How ready are you for a busy day? When you think about energy being finite, and each activity takes energy from the jar, you can develop a sense of limitation and how best to use that resource.
Energy is there in the body, it simply needs to be converted. Energy is produced when you sleep fully, have good mental health, balanced body composition, good digestive health and good physical fitness. Along with energy, we call these components of health the Six Signals™, because these are the six key indicators or good health, and the six areas where we see people have problems. Focus on making improvements in these areas and you will have enough energy for everything you want to do in life. Time should be our limiting resource, not energy. Need help? Contact us here.
You’re overworking and overtraining
Allostatic load is the term used to describe the wear and tear on the body caused by repeated or chronic stress. If you are sleeping poorly – whether that be quality or duration – the body will be under-recovered. Sleep is the force multiplier, meaning that if sleep quality and duration is good, all the other Six Signals™ will be easier to work on and improve. What I’ve observed in myself (read my book Rise and Shine for my personal story in full) is that my motivation goes when I’ve been overdoing everything. The irony is that the more over-trained or over-worked you are, the less able you are to recognise it. This is primarily because you’re pumped up on adrenaline, but also because you’re too tired to see things in perspective. The body doesn’t differentiate between stress caused by physical exercise or external stressors such as a demanding schedule or travel. It’s all just physiological stress.
Depending on how over-worked or over-trained you are, the first thing to do is slow down. You don’t necessarily need to stop what you’re doing but slow it down and be present. Rather than rushing through life, really appreciate what it is you’re doing and more importantly, why you’re doing it. Take a step back, add some variety and build in some activities or exercises that focus on the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recovery) not the sympathetic (fight and flight). Breathing exercises, meditation (I recommend Headspace and Calm) and yoga are great examples of this and I use all of them to manage my recovery and stay in the zone.
My top 3 tips for maintaining your energy, focus and enthusiasm
- Treat yourself like an Olympic athlete
Athletes are very used to periodised training. By that I mean, they build up to an event by increasing their training and recovery until about a week before their event, then taking it down to allow for full recovery so that they hit their peak at the event itself. If you’re not an amateur or professional athlete, this still applies to you – if you’re reading this then you are what I call a corporate athlete. Chances are your role or business has peaks and troughs, and the skill is in maintaining your focus and energy is in planning your schedule so that you peak in the busy times and recover in the quieter times. (If you don’t feel there are quieter times, you will struggle to have longevity in your career). Athletes famously take good care of their bodies and minds, because they recognise they are the engine of their success. We should do the same – I’ve seen too many very driven people who are completely ignoring their health, and it’s sad because their minds are going to waste because they’re burning out.
- Explore the intersections of what you love
My experience is that the real magic happens when you intersect what you love with what you know you should be doing. What do I mean? I had a burnout in March 2012, and left my city career, wondering what I’d do next. After a period of rest and recovery, I realised I wanted to run my own business, do something that was predicated around health and fitness and something that meaningfully helped other people. Hence Bodyshot Performance was born. I created a career and a company that lay at the intersection of personal empowerment, wearable tech and genetic science. Explore what gets you excited. For example, if you know you should be exercising more but you don’t want to be away from family for long at weekends, combine or intersect those interests by taking the family on a cycling break. If you love books and audio content, buy a pair of headphones so you can listen to content as you walk, which is a great way to maintain base fitness.
- Move into your discomfort zone
Part of our philosophy at Bodyshot is that we believe that it’s healthy to spend some time in your ‘discomfort zone’. Why do we believe that? Well, finding yourself in a situation that you’re uncomfortable in means you get resourceful. Find a way out of the discomfort, or adapt to the feelings it creates. Over time, you’ll become very adept at managing discomfort, and you might even welcome it because it makes you more resilient.
There are different ways of creating uncomfortable situations for yourself, but the context we favour is sport and exercise. Some of you will know that I challenged myself to a white collar boxing match in June 2014, and I can tell you it doesn’t get more uncomfortable than sparring practice, especially in the early days. You get hit in the face, head and jaw until eventually you learn to keep your hands up and defend yourself. It’s horrible, painful and really forces you to dig deep. But, once you’ve become comfortable being in the ring, the sense of empowerment and surge of self-confidence is very motivating. That said, I appreciate that boxing isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t the only way of challenging yourself. For some the thought of a 5k run might scare the hell out of them, and for others it might be an exercise class. Whatever it is that presses your buttons, we’re arguing that you should make a regular habit of pushing yourself and taking on these personal challenges.
What’s your Health IQ?
If you’re reading this, you’re are probably in a reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy. The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.
If you’d like help understanding what your Health IQ is click here to take our test.
Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.