There are thousands of guidebooks and magazines with insights from sports, health, business and psychology that give advice on how to motivate yourself to go to the gym or to become more creative in your job. None of them has worked for me so far; this 6-step approach does.

Being brain-squeezed kills motivation

Working in a fast-paced, highly creative environment means delivering ideas on the spot and coming up with new concepts day in and day out. If you are a natural-born sportsman, doing sports gives you additional motivation and adds fuel to your creativity.

Unfortunately it also works the other way round. You get brain-squeezed in your job to come up with new ideas and suddenly you feel too tired to practice your sports regularly. Or you just don’t have the time to work out properly. These circumstances can lead to motivational or even creative blockades. Sometimes these blockades fade to grey, sometimes they lead to reduced productivity or higher stress levels.

Tackle your blockade by approaching its real core.
Tackle your blockade by approaching its real core.

Here is a short 6-step guide, how I managed to get rid of motivational and creative blockades with a technique called ‘Active Focusing’.

It might come across as hard to grasp in the beginning, but I highly recommend you to try it out. All you need is 30 minutes of free time, a comfy seat in a quiet environment and the will to listen:

Step 1 – Select your topic

Breathe, breathe, and breathe.

Try to get rid of the noise around you and center your attention on your neck, chest and stomach. Once you are there, take your motivational or creative blockade that is bothering you and ask: “What do you want to tell me?” Take your time and JUST listen. Most of the time you will receive a feeling or image after a couple of minutes. Whatever it is that manifests itself – stick with it.

Step 2 – Connect to your topic

As soon as you have a feeling or image or even the slightest bit of emotion on your issue, say hello. Literally! Say: “Hello, nice to meet you, creative (or motivational) thing.” And now listen again. It might get louder or more intense; it might cool down or soften. Again: Take your time and let it be. You started a journey to solve something.

Step 3 – Align your topic

Now that you realized something inside you that wants to be recognized, try to concretize it.

Try to find a proper description of whatever is going on inside you.

Maybe you already had ‘something heavy in your stomach’, a ‘tickle in your throat’ or ‘pressure on your chest’ combined with an image or feeling. Try to describe it better. Is it dark, light? Sad, happy? Big, small? Active, dangerous, squeezing? Whenever you bring up a new suggestion or attribute, check it against your body and ask: “Does the description match the feeling?” If it doesn’t feel right, try again. Be honest to yourself at this stage. It can take several approaches to get it right. Once you are there, you found your ‘felt sense’.

Step 4 – Keep company

By now you hopefully have a touchable description of your blockade shape, size and quality. How about chatting with ‘it’ now? This sounds strange and it will feel awkward the first couple of times. Try to picture yourself sitting next to whatever you got by now (let’s say a grey-ish, actively spinning stone in your chest, which relates to your current lack of fitness) in a calm environment. For me personally a lake during sunset works quite well. For you it might be your living room or your favorite bench in the woods.

Now try listen to its story as a friend would tell you his. Don’t rush. If it stops talking to you, you may ask curiously: “Tell me something about you I don’t know yet.”

If you are not receiving any answers you may go back and double-check if your description (step 3) really fits. Maybe it doesn’t. Rework it and come back.

Step 5 – Changing the point of view

If your ‘felt sense’ is chatting with you and you are curiously listening, keep going.

Over time you should now try to change your own point of view into the view of your felt sense.

How must it feel? What is the purpose of its story? Now ask: “Why are you constantly spinning (in our case) and what would you need to slow down?” This is the point where you might receive very direct feedback. It might say: “Don’t push me further” or “Give me some room”. Whatever it is, acknowledge it and ask your inner sense kindly to show you how it might feel if it gets what it wants. How does that feel now? Stick with the new feeling and appreciate the feedback you just received. This is most certainly the key takeaway of your session.

A great feeling could mark the solution of your problem.
A great feeling could mark the solution of your problem.

Step 6 – Permission to finish

Some sessions might be exhausting, even though you are ‘only’ sitting there thinking. However a rule of thumb is to take 1/10 of the time you invested in your session to ‘come back’. With the positive feeling from step 5 it is now time to literally say goodbye to your inner blockade. Thank your feeling for talking to you and promise to come back and check in again some time soon to see how it feels.

Take some deeper breaths, stretch or move a little and open your eyes again. You are back!

These 6 steps helped me various times to overcome (sports-) motivational or creative blockades. I normally try to write down the experience and also one key takeaway from the session. I’ve practiced this technique over one year now and learned how to picture and overcome my inner blockades successfully. By the way: This technique also works in positive mindsets of happiness or full peace of mind. So it is worth trying it out no matter what.

Lesson learned?

Share your experiences in the comments below, on LinkedIn or tweet @GamePlan_A.

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