Last week I just could not be bothered. Do you ever feel like that? Those days when all you want to do is ignore the world and your responsibilities, curl up into a self-pitying ball and eat chocolate? I’m sure it’s not just me! Right?! The big thing I had to do but was proving most difficult was writing my blog. I just drew a blank and stared at the screen thinking about how dead my brain felt. Eventually, after distracting myself with other less taxing tasks, I managed to sit down and complete my work. This got me thinking this week though…how do we deal with being unmotivated? Is it just laziness, or is there something more behind it? Here are 12 ways to kick your motivation into action and help you get yourself moving forward.
1. Set achievable goals
When you are faced with a seemingly enormous task, it can become so overwhelming that we freeze and motivation to accomplish that task vanishes. Remember that everything, big or small, begins with the first step. Break the task down into steps and bite them off one at a time. You can’t climb Everest in one giant step! You need to take one step at a time, and gradually complete the enormous feat in stages. Gradually you will distance yourself from your lack of motivation as you learn to measure your days more carefully and see that what once seemed too big for you, is not only possible, but achievable.
2. Stop being a perfectionist!
Sometimes we can be unmotivated because we expect too much from ourselves. There is a real pandemic of perfectionism that is attacking people today, where there is such an expectation to achieve great heights of professionalism, to be all things and know all things to all people. This is not possible. We are not machines! If we try to create everything to the utmost levels of perfectionism, we continually put all our time and effort into tasks that in the end are quite meaningless, will not thank you for the effort you have put in, and in fact, make you alienated from the people around you. Your health suffers and your time becomes a wasted commodity. If you’re unmotivated because you don’t think you’ll be able to achieve the standard of perfection, now is the time to start counteracting that attitude. It will take time, but there are plenty of resources out there to help overcome perfectionism and kick your motivation into action.
3. Talk kindly to yourself
Often we can beat ourselves up when we are feeling unmotivated. We demean ourselves and talk badly about our inactivity. It’s important to recognise how we feel, to acknowledge it, and to be gentle to ourselves. Be present, accept how you feel, and if you feel ready, reach out to people you trust. If not, comfort yourself, achieve what you can, and work your way out of the feeling. Small tasks like walking your dog, doing the dishes, taking a shower, preparing some food, are all good tasks that help you to keep going despite how you may feel. Gradually you will begin to come out of your slump and your motivation will take action.
4. Focus on your strengths
Further to what I’ve just said above, play to your strengths. Often lack of motivation hits when we feel overwhelmed by something new, or something that is apparently out with our set of skills. If you’re not ready to tackle the task or event that is causing your lack of motivation, complete the small tasks I mentioned above. Often getting started on something helps kick you into first gear and you will begin to shake off those feelings of inactivity. These activities can often lead you to begin to tackle whatever you’ve been putting off. It’s also important to remember that even within seemingly impossible tasks or situations, there will always be the opportunity to play to your strengths. No one thing has to be done the same way by every person. Take on each thing you’re faced with by playing to your strengths and make it your own. Be your own person!
5. Recognise your achievements
As you endeavour to overcome your lack of motivation, recognise what you have already achieved beforehand, and whatever you do manage to achieve during your motivational slump. Praise yourself for that too. Even the small things are an achievement, so stop focussing on the big things, the enormity of tasks that stop us in our tracks, and notice the little things we manage step by step. You’ll feel so much better, so much more positive about moving forward and kick that motivation into action.
6. Reward yourself
Reward yourself for your small victories. When you will yourself out of bed, when you tidy that kitchen, when you make a start on the task you’ve been putting off, reward yourself. It can be in words, it can be in something you enjoy like food or drink, or a trip to your favourite nature spot. Whatever it is you love, make time for it too. If we don’t keep our life in balance, if we only focus on what we still have to do and don’t recognise what we’ve already done, it’s no wonder we get unmotivated. Make time for yourself and ensure that you give yourself headspace to refresh yourself.
7. No man is an island! Ask for help!
Stop isolating yourself. Sometimes it’s difficult to ask for help because we believe we should be able to handle things on our own. It’s often portrayed as a sign of weakness if we have to concede that we can’t manage on our own. I challenge that notion! It is more a sign of inner strength to acknowledge that we need help, that a task is bigger than we can manage alone. Bring people into your circle of trust, divide and conquer, and then celebrate your victory together. Not only will you preserve your own sanity, but you will forge relationships that you can rely upon as you go forward. You’ll be better able to tackle those things that would stop you in your tracks which brings on the lack of motivation.
8. Educate yourself
Lack of motivation is just one of those things that many of us struggle with. Some more regularly than others. If you are serious about tackling this issue in your life, or if you know someone who has this to deal with in their life, then there is so much help out there. Books, literature, classes, coaches, I could go on. If you need further help in dealing with motivational issues then please learn what it is that is your trigger, and endeavour to overcome it. It is possible! Be proactive. Don’t accept things the way they are, especially if this is a recurring issue you face. If you need someone to talk to about it, here is a link to John Morris’s life coaching.
9. Deal with those stressors
Stress is a major trigger of a lack of motivation. It is linked to the need for perfection, to the need to be all things to all people, to do things on our own, and to the expectations of other people. If we constantly live our lives with these thoughts and expectations upon us, whether put there by others or ourselves, then we are going to burn out or hit that wall where we are unable to go on. Look at yourself, therefore, and recognise where you are feeling stress enter your life and seek to overcome it. Only then can we kick our motivation into action and feel the benefits of a less stressful life.
10. Get that R.E.M
Sleep! One of my favourite words! It is so important to our everyday function. If we sacrifice sleep we are depriving ourselves of the necessary rehabilitation that it provides. If you are struggling to get 7-9 hours of sleep then you need to ask yourself why. Am I working too late? Am I tiring myself out beyond sleep? Do I spend too much time on media devices before bed? Am I suffering from an affliction that I need to overcome that is disturbing my sleep? Sometimes it will be easy to sort out whatever is disturbing your sleep, but other times it will take time and persistence. Whatever your sleep pattern is like, seek to make it regular and as consistent as possible. You will give yourself so much more energy and brainpower to be able to face each day and therefore be more motivated to deal with life’s challenges.
11. Remember to exercise!
Some people are more inclined to exercise than others. I fall into the ‘others’ category, unfortunately. It doesn’t come easily to me. I usually feel self-conscious and struggle to get into a routine. However, recently with the right encouragement, I’ve been able to get myself into somewhat of a routine. So every morning I get up and do a little exercise before I begin my day. If I don’t I’m less likely to get to it during the day. Let’s face it, if you’re having to be reminded to exercise, you’re probably like me and don’t find it easy to get into. So start small. Go for a short walk, or if you have some unused gym equipment, get it out and do 10 minutes. The thing is to start. You’ll get your blood pumping and release those endorphins we’re constantly told are amazing for our mental health! Once you get going you’ll kick that motivation into action and the benefits will abound. Take the first step today!
12. Nourish your body
Eating well goes without saying. If you eat well, you look after your body and therefore are likely to feel better in your body and mind. When you constantly eat the wrong foods like sugar, fat, refined carbs etc then your body is not being supported by the nutrients that it needs. If this is something you struggle with, again, begin small. Swap one thing you know is not doing you any good, work it into your daily diet, and then swap something else. When we look after our bodies with the right foods, we nourish ourselves, influencing not only our physical wellbeing but our mental one too. If we feel better about ourself we are more likely to succeed each day in what we set our minds to.
Don’t be passive
No matter what is causing you to feel unmotivated, it’s important to look inwardly and externally and recognise what the cause is. Don’t be passive about the things that affect your life. It’s your life after all and it should be one where you are able to tackle whatever life throws your way. Seek to improve your mental health so that you can live a motivated and passionate life full of purpose.
Please share this blog with the people you know. Seek to help those around you and be a beacon of encouragement. Leave your comments on the ways you’ve managed to kick your motivation into action. It may just help someone!