When progress toward your goals slows down because you're not taking regular action, it might be time to renew your motivation.
Reignite your motivation when it's fading
January is traditionally a time for making resolutions and thinking about big goals to pursue. Often we start strong but lose focus within a few weeks. (We've all heard that cliché about the gym that's full on January 2 being empty by January 25.)
Of course, this can happen any time of the year when we start a project with enthusiasm, but over time that enthusiasm fades. So the question I wanted to think about this episode is how can we re-energize ourselves, renew our motivation, and regain momentum when it starts to fade, so we can continue to pursue our goals energetically?
What is motivation?
The dictionary defines motivation as:
- The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
- The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
Why motivation fades
Mindset — internal reasons
Maybe the new routine becomes too routine and it doesn't inspire you to action. You're simply going through the motions.
Over time, the attractiveness of the new and novel fades. Maybe it started strong, but it got hard and/or routine, and you feel less motivated to keep persevering.
Maybe the goal or project you're pursuing isn’t enough of a stretch to keep you interested.
We talk ourselves out of trying because we’re dissatisfied with our ability or the “quality” of what we’re producing. We don’t give ourselves the chance to learn and improve, and we beat ourselves up when our first effort is not perfect. Perfectionism saps our motivation and discourages us from even trying.
I'm a member of a mastermind group with some other writers. At one of our recent meetings, I shared my struggle to write my book proposal. One member gave me an assignment to “Write a really bad proposal!” She is absolutely right! Once I have some words on the page, I can fix them, but you can't fix a blank page.
You are not making the progress you hoped to make or feel like it’s not making a difference. This is a time to ask yourself a couple question:
- Are your expectations realistic? Did you expect it to be easier than it is, to be finished faster, or to make a bigger splash?
- Do you simply need help? Do you need to find someone to teach you a skill you need to accomplish what you’re pursuing so you can get back on the right track?
Circumstances — external reasons
- Are there people in your life who discourage you?
- Are you feeling isolated and without support?
- Do you have too much on your plate?
First steps in renewing your motivation
Look at your health
If you’re feeling generally unmotivated, having a hard time doing anything, look at your health. Is there a physiological reason you’re feeling unmotivated?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you getting decent nutrition or enough water?
- Do you have an illness such as a chronic thyroid issue or even just a cold or flu?
If you're feeling lethargic and generally unmotivated, consider scheduling a physical with your doctor to rule out or treat any medical condition that might be affecting your energy level, concentration, and focus.
Evaluate the goal or endeavor
If you’re lacking motivation with respect to a particular goal or endeavor, evaluate it. Is it the wrong goal, or the wrong time?
Don’t give up just because it’s hard, but evaluate whether you’re pursuing the right endeavors for the right reasons.
Check out past TPW episodes for more information and ideas about knowing when to quit or let go:
Suggestions to re-ignite your motivation
Assuming it’s not the wrong endeavor and it’s something you want to continue pursuing, what are some things you can do to reignite your motivation?
Find a few people whose accomplishments you admire
Be inspired by those who’ve overcome obstacles. These examples can remind you that if they can accomplish what they have with those obstacles to deal with, you can keep going.
- Amberley Snyder: The young woman who’s paralyzed from the waist down but competes in barrel racing (Today.com article)
- Check out Love Meg’s YouTube video about renewing motivation when you've lost it
Manage your mind
How we think determines how we feel. Find ways to encourage yourself and to focus on the positive. Notice when you are talking yourself out of things and learn to turn your thinking around.
- Read motivational, positive materials
- Collect quotes that inspire you, and post them where you’ll see them
“Effort is never wasted, even when it leads to disappointing results. For it always makes you stronger, more educated, and more experienced. So when the going gets tough, be patient and keep going. Just because you are struggling does NOT mean you are failing. Every great success requires some kind of struggle to get there.
The next step is always worth taking. Seriously, no matter what happens, no matter how far you seem to be away from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will make it. Have an unrelenting belief that things will work out, that the long road has a purpose, that the things you desire may not happen today, but they will happen. Practice patience. And remember that patience is not about waiting – it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard to make progress every day, and knowing that this journey is worth it.”
Create a playlist of music or podcasts that get you pumped and ready to go
- Certain music helps me keep going when I run
- Certain YouTube videos motivate me to clean house
- Certain podcasts motivate me to take action when I’ve been feeling overwhelmed or discouraged or even just tired
Remind yourself of your why
Do you have it written down? Pull it out and review it. Read it out loud. Post it where you can see it.
“Think beyond yourself. Motivation only lasts so long when we’re focused solely on ourselves. Think about how your mission will help others, and you’ll tap into a new well of motivation.”
Plan a reward for yourself
Treat yourself to a massage, Starbucks treat, vacation, lunch with a good friend, a new tool or new supplies for your project, something else that is meaningful to you, that you can look forward to.
Surround yourself with people who are excited and enthusiastic
- Attend a relevant conference
- Join a local or online group or club of people who are doing what you want to do
- Find or form a mastermind group of like-minded people who will inspire and encourage you, hold you accountable, and help you brainstorm solutions to the obstacles you’re facing
Find an accountability partner
Find someone you can share your goal with and then report regularly on your progress. That can motivate us to keep going.
- Find a friend or someone who’s pursuing a similar goal to yours
- Consider a coach if you want a “disinterested” third party
- Work with a personal trainer
What do you think?
Are you still feeling motivated day-to-day to pursue your goals and making a life that matters? How do you keep yourself motivated? Please share your ideas in the comments section below this post or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group or send me an email.
Resources and Links
Articles & Youtube Videos
- Amberley Snyder – Cowgirl Magazine Article
- Amberley Snyder – Today.com article
- Love Meg’s YouTube video
- 10 Things to Remember When You’ve Lost Your Motivation
- Why We Lose Motivation Once in Awhile and How to Fix It Forever
Previous TPW Episodes
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