How to be motivated when you are not?
Whether you don’t feel motivated to clean your house or to lose weight, lack of motivation can be the biggest obstacle that prevents you from achieving your goals.
When you are not motivated to complete a task (or even start one), consider the possible reasons why you feel a degree of difficulty. Then, develop a plan that will help you get everything up and running. Keep in mind that not all strategies work for everyone, or in all situations. Perform some behavioral experiments to see which strategies best help you fight demotivation and achieve your personal goals.
Consider the reasons behind why
Sometimes, lack of motivation can be the problem. On other occasions, it is simply the symptom of a major problem.
For example, if you are usually a perfectionist, your lack of motivation may be due to the fear of not completing a task without facing problems. Until you address this need to “be perfect”, it will not be possible for you to regain your motivation. On other occasions, your lack of motivation can cause you to postpone things. And the more you postpone things, the less motivated you will feel. In this case, improving your motivation to do the job can help you feel better and perform better in the personal and professional sphere.
Therefore, it is important that you take a few minutes to consider why you might be having some problems to motivate yourself.
Below are some common reasons for the lack of motivation:
Avoidance of discomfort. When you perform a mundane task, or you are trying to avoid feelings of frustration by dodging a difficult or boring task. Sometimes the lack of motivation also comes from the desire to avoid uncomfortable feelings.
Doubts about you and your abilities. When you think you can’t do something, or you’re convinced that you can’t tolerate the anguish associated with a certain task, you’re likely to have a hard time getting started.
Being overloaded with tasks. When you have a lot of things to do, you may feel overwhelmed. And this feeling can end your motivation.
Lack of commitment to a goal. Accepting a task simply because you feel obliged to perform it, can mean that your heart is not really in it.
Mental health problems. Lack of motivation is a common symptom of depression. It can also be related to other mental illnesses, such as anxiety. That is why it is important to consider whether your mental health may be affecting your level of motivation.
These are just some of the common reasons why people sometimes lack motivation. It is possible that along the way you will discover that your lack of motivation is due to other problems, such as the fear of what people think or the desire to please everyone. Therefore, carefully consider the underlying thoughts and feelings that could be affecting your impulse.
Act as if you were motivated.
You may be able to deceive yourself to feel motivated by simply changing your behavior. Acting as if you were motivated will change your actions and therefore also change your emotions. For example, instead of sitting on the couch in pajamas all day waiting for motivation, get dressed and move. You may discover that this action increases your motivation, which will make it easier to move forward.
Practice this exercise. When you feel unmotivated, ask yourself: “What would I be doing right now if I felt motivated?” Consider what you would wear, how you would be thinking and what actions you would take. Then, do those things and see if your level of motivation increases.
Discuss the opposite
When you are struggling with motivation, you may come up with a long list of reasons why you should not take any action. You might think: “It’s going to be too difficult” or, “Anyway, I’ll never finish it.” This type of thought will keep you stuck. Try to argue otherwise. When you think you’re going to fail, discuss all the reasons why you could succeed. Or when you think you can’t finish a job, list all the obvious reasons why you could complete the task. Arguing otherwise can help you see both ends of the spectrum. It can also help you remember that an overly pessimistic result is not necessarily the absolute one. There is a possibility that things will work better than expected. And you may discover that developing a more balanced perspective will help you feel more motivated to try it.
You might think that being hard on yourself is the key to motivating yourself. But the evidence suggests that self-criticism does not work. Research shows that self-pity is actually much more motivating, especially when you are fighting against adversity.
A 2011 study by researchers at the University of California found that self-pity increases the motivation to recover from failure. After failing a test, the students spent more time studying. But this time they spoke to themselves positively. The students reported a greater motivation when practicing self-acceptance (a key component of self-pity). Self-pity can also improve mental health (which can increase motivation). A study conducted in 2012 and published in “Clinical Psychology Review” found that self-pity decreases psychological anguish, reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression and reduces the harmful effects of stress.
So, instead of self-criticising yourself and punishing yourself for the mistakes you could have made, create a kinder inner dialogue towards yourself. However, this does not mean that you should repeat exaggeratedly positive statements such as “I am the best person in the world.” Recognize your flaws, mistakes and failures honestly. But don’t feel hurt or unhappy with yourself.
Talk to yourself as you would speak to a trusted friend. Ask yourself: “What would you say to a friend who had this problem?” It is likely that you are much kinder to a family member or friend than you usually are with yourself. So start treating yourself like a good friend.
Use the 10-minute rule
When you are afraid or lazy to do something, you will always lack the motivation to do it. However, you can reduce your feelings of dread and disinterest by showing yourself that the task is not as bad as you think or that you have the strength to cope with it better than you imagine. For this, try to practice the 10-minute rule. It consists of allowing you to leave a task after 10 minutes. When you reach the 10-minute mark, ask yourself if you want to continue or leave the task completely. You will probably find that you have enough motivation to move forward with her. So, whether you are not motivated to start working on a university or work report, or you are not in the mood to get up from the couch and start your to-do list, use the 10-minute rule to motivate yourself to take action. Starting a task is usually the most difficult part. However, once you start it, it is much easier to continue.
Going for a walk in nature
Fresh air, a change of scenery and a little exercise can do wonders for your motivation. Walking in nature, unlike a busy urban street, can be especially beneficial.
A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking half a mile through a park reduces brain fatigue
Then, instead of walking down a busy street, go to the park or the botanical garden. Being surrounded by nature can provide you with the mental escape you need to resume your project feeling more motivated than before.
Combine a complicated or boring task with something you enjoy doing.
Your emotions play an important role in your level of motivation. If you are sad, bored, alone or anxious, your desire to face a difficult challenge or complete a tedious task will be affected. Improve your mood by adding a little fun to something you feel motivated for. You will feel happier and you may even be motivated to perform the task when you regularly combine it with something fun.
Here are some examples:
Listen to music that you like while doing a work assignment.
Call a friend and talk to him/her while you clean the house.
Light a scented candle while working on your computer.
Rent a luxury vehicle when traveling for business reasons.
Invite a friend to run errands with you.
Turn on your favorite show while folding your clothes.
Just make sure that your fun doesn’t affect your performance. For example, watching TV while writing an article can distract you and affect your productivity even more.
Manage your to-do list
It’s hard to feel motivated when your to-do list is overwhelming. If you feel that you don’t have enough time to complete everything, you may lose all interest in performing the pending tasks.
Keep in mind that most people underestimate the time it will take to carry out something. And when they don’t do it in time, they can see themselves as lazy or inefficient. This can be counterproductive in making you lose motivation, which makes it even more difficult to do more things.
Take a look at your to-do list and determine if it is too long. If so, eliminate non-essential tasks. Identify if some of the tasks can be moved to another day. Prioritize the most important things on the list and move them at the beginning.As a result, you may feel more motivated to get to work.
You will struggle with motivation as long as you don’t take care of yourself and your needs. Lack of sleep, a poor diet and lack of free time are just some of the things that can make your day’s chores more difficult than ever. Create a healthy personal care plan that allows you to take care of your mind and body:
You exercise regularly.
Get enough sleep.
Drink water and eat a healthy diet.
Dedicate time to leisure and fun.
Use healthy coping skills to deal with stress.
Avoid unhealthy habits, such as overeating and drinking too much alcohol.
Recompet yourself for working
Give yourself a small reward for your hard work. You may find that focusing on the reward helps you stay motivated to achieve your goals. For example, if you have a long job to write for the class or the job, you can approach it in several ways:
Write 500 words and then take a 10-minute break.
Eat a piece of chocolate after 30 minutes of work.
Write one page a day and then remember that when you’re done, you’ll have free time to do whatever you want.
Work for 20 minutes and then spend 5 minutes reviewing your social networks.
When you finish work, allow yourself to go out with friends or share with your family.
Consider whether you would be more motivated by smaller and more frequent rewards or a greater reward when completing all your work. You may want to experiment with some different strategies until you discover the approach that best suits your needs. However, make sure that your rewards do not sabotage your efforts. Rewarding your hard work in the gym with a sugary treat can be counterproductive. And bad counterproductive habits will reduce your motivation in the long term.
Seek professional help
If your motivation remains low for two or more weeks, seek professional help. You may also want to seek help if your lack of motivation is affecting your daily operation. For example, if you can’t go to work, your performance at work will be affected or if you can’t motivate yourself to leave the house, this could be a sign of something more serious. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may want to rule out physical health problems that may be affecting your energy or mood. Your doctor may also refer you to a mental health professional to determine if your lack of motivation could be related to a mental illness, such as depression. If so, the treatment may include therapy, medication or a combination of both.