How to Stay Motivated When You Just Can’t.

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Everyone has one of those days. Even the Energizer Bunny stops at some point. It’s even worse if the entire outside world or even your brain conspire against you.

But the thing is, the only way for you to move past it is to just move. It might seem difficult, or even pointless, but it must be done.

There are many reasons why you can lose your motivation, and they are all valid. You lost the sight of your goal, you met too many closed doors, you are not seeing results… They are very diverse, but they all have one thing in common – once you figure out what it is in your case, you will know how to beat it.

And that leads us to our first solution…

1 – Know yourself.

self motivation
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

I know that I know nothing. This quote from Plato explains what is needed for us to gain knowledge. Once we admit that we are not born all-knowing, educating ourselves becomes easier.

You have to admit that you are not perfect. No one is. We all have as many flaws as we have strengths. Being able to objectively list all your bad points allows you to learn how to work around them, and maybe, how even to use them to your advantage, Some of the most successful people in any field tend to have more self-awareness than the ones that don’t quite measure up.

If you are losing the will to compete for that promotion, take a moment to figure out why it was not a sure deal from the start. There must be something that they didn’t like about you. You could be doing your work better than anyone else, but, because you are not a morning person, you have not performed well in Monday morning meetings. Or there is a part of your work your skills don’t cover, and, instead of delegating, you have struggled to solve everything yourself. With so-so results.

You see, we can be our own worst enemies sometimes. Knowing how we are sabotaging ourselves can take a huge load off our shoulders and keep us motivated going forward.

2 – Take a few things off your plate.

Once you have a goal, it is very easy to bite a little bit more than you can chew. To get where we want to be, we sometimes forget that we should think more about the journey, not being perfect.

Research shows [2][3] that the key to long term success is in conquering smaller challenges.

Let’s say you want to stick to your New Year’s resolution and exercise regularly. You’ve signed up for a gym membership, yet, like most people, it’s collecting dust. Every single time you think you should go and work, you already feel tired. What you should have done instead is to commit to doing at least 10 minutes of something every day. Anyone can do anything for 10 minutes! This way, even if you don’t spend that hour or two in the gym, you still feel like you are doing something for your goals. Even if it is not massively helping, you don’t feel worse for skipping your workouts completely.

Also, take notes of small victories. It gives you a better sense of the fact that you are going in the right direction.

Sticking to exercise – you will not get those washboard abs overnight. But, what will happen that night is you will sleep better. So you will every night after that. After a while you will not get tired easily, your skin will start glowing, your mood will improve… Noting all small positive changes will remind you you are doing something worthwhile.

3 – Take a few steps back.

Anyone who has ever taken a painting class will tell you that you need to step back often. This is to ensure that you are not sacrificing your entire work because of your obsession with details. Also, some artists will walk away from their work and start another one. Spending a lot of time on a single project can lead to fatigue and a drop in motivation to finish it.

So you should step away as well. Maybe all you need is to give yourself a chance to see how far you have come and to remind yourself of your ultimate goal. Maybe you need to go and do something else for a bit. Spend time with family and friends, watch a movie, learn how to cook a new dish, start a new project, etc. Taking breaks is well known to help overall productivity, but to keep you motivated as well [4][5].

4 – Find your locus of control.

The locus of control boils down to your perception of what has the greatest influence on your life [6]. People with the external locus of control see the whole world as the most influential, while those with the internal one see themselves as the most responsible. In translation, it’s a difference between saying “I am late because it rained today” and “I am late because I did not take into the account that it is raining today”.

If you have the external locus of control, it is easy to think that the whole world is working against you. Shifting will take time, but you can start by simply taking credit for small successes.

For example, if your goal was to open a business, you will probably have to do quite a bit of research first. So let’s say you finished with all your paperwork with no problems or delays – take a moment to say “This went smooth because I did my research properly”.

People with an internal locus of control tend to stay motivated easily because it is easier for them to get into the problem-solving mode.

5 – Design a perfect surrounding.

Your coworker having that Bali poster right next to their computer might seem silly, but there is a good chance that it’s doing more than just getting them through the day. And that aunt who says she wants to start dating again but seems to spend more time with women want the same? She has a point as well.

Surrounding yourself with motivational images and content, as well as people who are aiming for the same things, can do wonders. When you lose your way, sometimes that “Hang in there, kitten” poster might prove to be more than adorable. And sometimes talking to someone who understands can break you out of your slump and set you on the right path again.

Also, if you are trying to lose weight but your best friend is a genius chocolatier – maybe you should love them from afar for a bit. If something in your environment is bad for your goals, taking a small break from it can help build back up your motivation.

 

References –

1 — http://www.cheurfire.com/uploads/9/1/2/2/9122796/pg7_inc_article.pdf

2 — https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/focus-small-steps-first-then-shift-larger-goal

3 — https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201803/goal-setting-is-linked-higher-achievement

4 — https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/2858036.2858066

5 — https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400410802391314

6 — https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1991-97206-008