8 Ways to Rekindle the Spark Within Ourselves and Those Around Us
You consider yourself a typically positive person, and yet some days you just seem to lack that bounce in your step, that enthusiasm for the day or week ahead. If your tendency is to take that lack of motivation to heart, remember that we live busy lives surrounded by a complex and challenging world—making the occasional slump inevitable.
The good news? There are steps you can take to rekindle your spark and regain your inspiration. Consider what Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by the spark from another person.”
The key is to avoid spending time on your low energy and instead, take charge of rekindling your spark. Here are eight suggestions to get you started.
- Take the time to be present in the moment
Being present is something we all have read or heard about, but what is it? Contrary to what immediately comes to mind, it does not mean that you need to find a quiet space and meditate—although that is one option. Simply put, it is paying attention only to what you are doing in any given moment.
As Psychology Today suggests, being present requires putting a halt to both “rehearsing” the past—replaying in your mind what already has happened like a tape, over and over—and worrying about the future.
How do you pivot to being present? Psychology Today offers these hints:
- Stop multitasking. We all do it but it turns out that we are not wired to do it well: “What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic. … You just can’t effectively attend to two things at once – even the superficially automatic ones.”
- Close your mouth and take a deep breath through your nose, which elicits a feeling of relaxation.
- Focus on what you are doing right now—not what is awaiting your attention later.
- Share stories
Sharing stories works in two powerful ways.
- Reading or hearing a story you can relate to often rekindles your inspiration. It acts as a prism through which you see yourself or your situation in a new light. That’s the idea behind TED Talks. Sharing your own story with others often has the same result. Ask any TED Talk speaker.
- Has someone else’s story become a gift to you by sparking new motivation, enthusiasm, or ideas? Let them know!
- Act in ways that lead to positive results: be someone’s hero
I met a man who told me that he tends to wake up feeling grateful, but on those days when he cannot summon up gratefulness, he goes out and finds a good deed to do to brighten someone else’s day.
What can you do to brighten up a colleague’s day? A family member or friend’s day? A neighbor’s day? Try it once and you’ll notice that a good deed can turn your day around.
- Re-read your goals, short-term and long-term
Seeing in writing what typically motivates you may respark your energy and get you back on track towards achieving those goals. As you generate new ideas related to your goals, jot those down, too. That way, the next time you feel as if you have lost momentum, your own written notes can kick-start your mojo.
- Plan away distractions
Our busy world has endless ways to distract us from the tasks we know we need to accomplish on any given day. Social media, multiple devices, and news headlines can combine to distract us and wear down our drive, at least momentarily.
Make a plan to interrupt the interruptions: schedule in specific times for checking your email or other social media communications on days when you need to stay focused and accomplish tasks on time.
- Get some rest
All the research points to a myriad of benefits gained from adequate sleep. The Harvard Medical School outlines the benefits of a good night’s sleep—and the risks involved in losing sleep, “When we miss sleep in order to keep up with our 24/7 world, we pay a price with our ability to learn, our health and safety, and our quality of life.”
The Med School notes, “Even without fully grasping what sleep does for us, we know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible, and that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world.”
That says it all: sometimes rekindling that spark is as easy as getting more rest.
- Try chunking
At times, experiencing a lack of motivation is a common reaction to anticipating a task too burdensome to accomplish easily.
All it takes in these cases is chunking: a term that refers to tackling that task in more bite-sized chunks.
If you anticipate a particularly rough day or week ahead, take a moment to reframe that day or week in hourly chunks: what do I need to accomplish just in this hour or during this morning?
- Schedule “me” time
Your momentary lack of inspiration may be a healthy response to a feeling that you never have time for yourself. Consider scheduling in ways to re-energize, regardless of whether that is time to read a good book, exercise more often, enjoy a friends’ night out, sit down for a quiet family dinner, or finally have that massage or wellness visit you have put off.
Start with small steps and see the difference it makes: knowing that you will be spending time on yourself can rekindle your energy and motivation.
Dr. Schweitzer once said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Take one moment now to remind yourself of why you love what you are doing.
It tends to be contagious: reigniting your own spark likely will help spark more energy and momentum among family, friends, and colleagues, creating a win-win circle of inspiration.