How to Motivate Yourself | Tarot Guidance & Advice

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How many times have you set a goal but didn’t follow through? Oh, sure, maybe you were super excited when you set out to achieve it. And maybe you even went at it with a vengeance for a day, a week, or even a month. But then the momentum fizzled, and you couldn’t remember why this goal was so important to you in the first place. Before you knew it, it had fallen by the wayside, along with a myriad of other goals you’d set over the years but didn’t follow through to be able to check them off and celebrate the achievement.

The good news is: this is normal. It happens to all of us. It happens to the best of us.

You know why? Because we’re human.

Something more interesting comes up. Our momentum fades, our motivation lessens, and we’re off and running to chase the next thing (which we may or may not give up on as well).

Right, so that’s the good news. Then what’s the bad news?

The bad news is: the reason you give up on your goals is because you’ve failed to take your emotions into account. It’s your feelings that make the biggest impact on whether or not you’re going to carry on with a specific endeavour. And if you fail to take those into account, well, you’ve pretty much planned to fail.

Planning comes from thinking. Acting comes from feeling.

Or, put another way:

You plan from your head. You act from your heart.

It sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? Maybe even a little woo-woo. But think back to a time when you felt unmotivated to go the gym, even though you’d set a goal that you’d do it a number of times per week. Logically, you wanted to go. You wanted to get healthy, stay accountable to yourself, and meet your goal.

But inwardly, you just weren’t feeling it. (Right? That’s the phrase we use, too. “I’m not feeling it.”) Your heart wanted something different: a nap, a movie marathon, a bath. Whatever. Something that had nothing to do with how fast you could run on a treadmill while dozens of sweat-soaked people flexed their muscles around you.

So you didn’t go. You stayed home, gave in to your feelings, and watched those goals get further and further away.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that listening to your feelings is a bad thing! Those naps and movie marathons and bubble baths certainly have their place. Just not right at the very moment when you’re trying to achieve something that’s important to you.

So, now that you know your heart and mind need to work in tandem to help you reach your goals, well, how exactly do you do that?

I reached for my 78 Tarot Carnival (Cirque du Tarot edition) and asked for some universal guidance we can all turn to when we need to re-ignite the dwindling fires of motivation.


Get Out From Under The Burden Of Overwhelm: 10 of Wands

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Before we delve into the message of this card, I want to draw your attention to its exceptionally beautiful design. Consider the way this girl's burdens are written right on her face and skin. The uniqueness of her identity comes out strongly in this card, as does the fact that she is overwhelmed. You can see the overwhelm in her eyes and in the way she's holding up her hands.

Her message is loud and clear: it’s damn hard to stay motivated when you are completely and totally overwhelmed.

When your motivation starts to fade, it's not because your goals are becoming less important. Nor is it because you're lazy (far from it!). It's simply because your responsibilities, the duties you've taken on alongside the goals you've set for yourself, are just too much to bear. 

You can't take care of yourself, or focus on your goals, when you put all your energy and resources into what you believe you owe other people. Even those duties you've take on willingly: like your job, taking care of your family, overseeing your household, and nurturing your pets, can all prove to be too much.

Action Step: Grab a piece of paper and write down all the things you’re responsible for this week. Everything from taking out the trash to cooking dinner for your family and writing that big fundraising proposal should all be on this list. Then ask yourself, logically, is there room for you to commit to what you need to do in order to meet your goal? If it's going to the gym, are you actually able to commit to an hour every couple of days? Is that reasonable? Is it logical? Is it something you can actually do? Then consider whether you can delegate some of your responsibilities. Can you take a few things off your plate and free up some time? And more importantly, can you free up some energy for the things that you want to do for yourself?

Quiet Your Inner Critic: 8 of Swords (Reversed)

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Similarly to the 10 of Wands, above, the 8 of Swords is asking you to contemplate how you handle your burdens. In this case, the card is drawing your attention to the mental load you carry, as well as the way you talk to yourself. It’s asking you to question all the negative thoughts that go through your head on a daily basis. Does your inner critic often come out to play? Does she say things like, “You can’t do it.”, “You’re not good enough.”, “You don’t know enough.”, “You’re not ready.”? All those thoughts can hold you back from achieving your goals.

Some people are afraid of failure. Some are afraid of success. Yet others are just afraid; and live in a permanent state of fear. Even if you don’t recognize it as such, if you’re living in a state of fear, that sensation—that intense anxiety--holds you back. It keeps you small, and it keeps you from going after your dreams. It’s so much safer to stay home and watch Netflix than it is to put all the energy and effort into meeting a big goal, even though you logically know you desperately want to, and yet you just… don’t. 

However, this card has come up reversed. And it’s drawing your attention to the fact that by setting that goal in the first place, you know that whatever negative self-talk you have around achieving that goal, is not true. Inherently, you are aware that you are capable of more than you know, but you are still letting your thoughts hold you back.

Often when your self-motivation begins to fade, and you find yourself unable or unwilling to move forward on a goal, it’s because you’ve subconsciously convinced yourself that you can’t do it anyway, so what’s the point?

Action Step: The next time you're struggling to get something done, pause and consider the way you’ve been talking to yourself. Have you been inadvertently convincing yourself that you are not good enough? If so, you may have started to believe it. Remind yourself that your inner critic is wrong. You are capable of incredible things! If, however, you realize that you don’t have enough information to move forward, then that can become your next goal. You can take a class, read a book, or enhance your knowledge of a topic in other ways. But don’t use not being ready as an excuse to do nothing. If anyone ever waited until they were 100% ready to do something, well, nobody would ever do anything.

Quit the Comparison Game: 3 of Pentacles (Reversed)

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Oh, comparison, how I loathe thee.

Frequently, you'll stop dead in your tracks because you're (knowingly or unknowingly) comparing yourself to others. Worse yet, you compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. This is particularly true in our social-media driven age, when everyone else’s highlight reel is bombarding you 24/7 with messages of greatness.

Comparing yourself to others, especially when you're at the beginning of your journey, is toxic to your motivation and your ability to move forward. Often, the people you look up to are either in the middle or the further end of their own personal journey, so of course you're going to find yourself falling short. When that happens, you could decide that it’s just better if you don’t do anything… because what’s the point? Everyone else is already doing this amazing thing you want to do, and doing it better… right?

Well, no.

What you have to offer the world is your uniqueness (see that 10 of Wands, above, and the woman’s unique beauty). The way you do your thing will be different than the way everyone else does it. There will always be a place for your story, for your gifts, and for your skills. But you have to share them first.

Action Step: Turn off the comparison triggers. When you find yourself getting triggered in this way and you realize that your motivation is flagging specifically because you've gone on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and you've seen someone who is doing what you want to do, but seemingly they're doing it 10 times better, turn off that notification. Delete Instagram from your phone. You don't need that kind of baggage in your head when you're trying to achieve something.The only way to focus on your own achievements to stop the comparison game, keep your eyes on your own paper, and take one step forward, and then another, and then another.  

Common Themes

The messages that came through in this spread were focused on the way you treat yourself, the way you talk to yourself, the way you compare yourself to other people, as well as the burdens you take on. 

When you look at all those elements together, well, no wonder you're finding it so difficult to achieve your goals! Are you really surprised that you’re finding it so hard to stay motivated when you’re dealing with this stuff on a daily basis? Achieving your goals may feel like an upward climb sometimes, but it’s not an impossible mission. You just need to know how to handle the triggers when they arise—and they will, inevitably, time and time again.

Take the action steps I’ve outlined above and add them to your personal development toolbox. Then pull them out when you need to find ways to push through the struggles you’re experiencing that are holding you back from pursuing your dreams.

What are your best tips for staying motivated? Share them in the comments below!