Unless you’re some kind of superhuman, I think motivation (or more specifically lack of), is a problem that affects us all from time to time. For me this has been a huge issue in the past, and it seems to become a vicious cycle; your motivation dips, which reduces productivity, which reduces motivation even more, and so on. The longer we let this cycle continue, the harder it becomes to break. Luckily, over my many years of demotivation and self-pity, I’ve discovered a few strategies that help me break free from the dreaded motivational block. Here are my top 3 strategies for claiming back your motivation:
This is my number one secret weapon when it comes to regaining my motivation. I think one of the biggest factors that contribute to losing our drive is feeling like everything is too much. For me at least, feeling like I have more to do than I can handle causes me to shut everything out, not wanting to do anything at all. When you feel like something is impossible, your brain starts thinking ‘well what’s the point’, causing you to feel physically and mentally deflated. When I find myself in this situation, the first thing I’ll do is write lists – as many as I need, literally just write every single thing down. I find it helps to put everything down on paper because it gets it out of your head, helping you to think more clearly. It’s surprising how motivating having a list is; it makes things seem much simpler because once you have it down, you can just work through it one at a time without the added stress of juggling everything in your mind. Don’t think about the next thing, just go through it one by one at whatever pace works for you and soon enough, once you realise your productivity is increasing, that motivation will creep back too. I find the feeling of crossing things off to-do lists so motivating. It’s up to you how you do your lists – personally I like to make them all fancy and colour-coded, but whatever works best for you.
2. Reset and restart.
This is another really effective strategy I use. Sometimes, the ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ excuse can actually be useful (as long as you’re not doing it every day)! A lot of the time running out of motivation is due to burning out and doing too much. This causes stress, which in turn causes the ‘head in the sand’ sort of attitude that comes with lack of motivation. In this case, I often just say to myself ‘chill out, and start a fresh tomorrow’. When you’re feeling demotivated, there’s sometimes nothing better than having a cuppa and a long bath, reading a book and getting a good nights sleep to change your mind-set and revive your energy. Get relaxed and rested, get up in the morning with a (hopefully) fresh attitude, write yourself some to-do lists and get going.
3. Think of the bigger picture
In other cases, lack of motivation can be caused by the feeling that all your efforts are ‘getting you nowhere’. When this happens, I find it helpful to take a breather and a step back, and look at the bigger picture. Working out is a great example of this. Day to day, you don’t particularly see results. Personally, this can sometimes leave me feeling a little bit deflated; to put your absolute all into your gym sessions and feel like you’re getting nothing from it is really disheartening. At this point, I motivate myself by looking at the big picture. I get my progress pictures up and soon realise that I of course HAVE made progress, it’s just a slow process and you don’t notice every tiny bit of extra muscle or loss of fat. I think this technique can benefit in so many situations. For example at college you may be in the habit of thinking ‘I won’t do this exam question, it’s only one question, it won’t make a difference’. However in the long run, doing one becomes two, and two becomes four, and so on, and you realise that a series of small progressions leads to a much bigger progression. In other words – the bigger picture. Remember that every small action counts and allow that to give meaning to all those stupid little tasks you don’t want to do because they feel ‘pointless’.