It’s easy to recognize when you’re physically tired. You haven’t slept normally in days or even weeks. You can’t remember the last time you saw the inside of a gym. And enough caffeine is racing through your bloodstream to keep a small elephant alert.
When your motivation is down, the effects can be worse than physical tiredness. You can’t concentrate, you procrastinate and become as lazy as possible. What’s worse, it is hard to tell that a motivation recharge is what you need.
Why You Might Need a Motivation Boost
I think at this point it is important to distinguish between needing an occasional motivating boost, and constantly needing to motivate yourself. If constant motivation is necessary for you to complete anything, you probably lack the intrinsic motivation of satisfying work. Recharging your enthusiasm can’t make up for a lousy job.
But even the most energetic and inspired people can go through a dry patch where their motivation falters. Here’s just a few potential reasons:
- Negative feedback. I’d be lying if I felt the same after reading a piece of harsh criticism than glowing praise. I’m sure you probably feel the same. A few harsh blows to your ego can cause waning motivation in all but the most stoic and enlightened human beings.
- Disappointment and failures. We can be our own worst critics. Just as a big win can fill you with enthusiasm, a big mistake can dampen your motivation.
- Routines, habits and missing goals. Spending weeks doing the same things repeatedly can make it easy to lose sight of why you started doing them in the first place. Zig Ziglar once said that motivating was like bathing. It isn’t permanent, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t insist upon doing it.
- Stress and frustration. I know people who were excellent students but did horribly on tests right after a break-up. Sometimes an upset in one area can reduce your motivation in another area, even if it is otherwise enjoyable.
Creating a Motivation Recharge Minute, Hour or Day
The headline of this article suggests creating a motivation recharge day. I find this can be useful to take time going over all of your goals, reviewing your progress and planning for the future. The effect on your motivation can be incredible. But the times you feel the least motivated are often the times you have the most pressing commitments. An entire day might not be possible.
I’ve found you can inject a bit of motivation into a few minutes or an hour. The effect won’t be as powerful as taking an entire day to recharge, but it can still be helpful. Here are some tips for how to recharge your motivation:
- Dissect Solvable Problems - Is your motivation waning because of a problem in another area of life? If that is the case, ask yourself whether the problem has a fast solution. If it does, the best way to fix your motivation is to fix the problem. This could be talking to a friend you had a fight with or sorting out a disorganized room.
- Avoid Impossible Problems – There are some problems that can’t be solved, or aren’t worth the effort to do so. Losing your wallet, making a bad first impression or messing up a presentation can’t be fixed, so trying to solve them will probably have the opposite effect.
- Listen to Audio Tapes – Are a lot of self-help tapes nothing but common sense wrapped up in an emotionally satisfying package? Probably. But that emotionally satisfying package can still be useful if it helps build your enthusiasm. Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and many others have motivational tapes which can get your ideas going again. Hopefully reading this post can get your ideas going.
- Read “Lifehack” Blogs – There are plenty of blogs dedicated to self-improvement, including lifehack.org. Getting a few snippets of good ideas can get your motivation flowing again.
- Review Your Goals – Go over all of your goals. Go over how you plan to achieve them and spend time thinking about what they consist of. It is easy to lose sight of your overall direction when you’re caught up with a daily routine. This is also the time to make corrections and plan new goals if your old direction doesn’t suit you anymore.
- Get an Energy Donation - Spend time with people that make you feel motivated and good about yourself. I don’t suggest spending all your time with a personal cheerleading team. That might lead to missing important information that might be negative. But being around people who are positive and can get your ideas flowing again can boost you out of a motivation deficit.
- Avoid Energy Vampires – Brad from 30sleeps calls people who drain your motivation, “energy vampires”. Avoid these people like the plague. Having people who can deliver bad news is important, but otherwise don’t spend time with these people. If you are forced to be with these vampires because of a work or school environment, then at least dedicate a few days to avoid them while you recover your motivation.
- Have a Project-Kill Day – Sometimes the best way to recharge your motivation is to accomplish something meaningful. I’ve found setting aside a day to accomplish more than usual (waking up early, getting done several major tasks right in the morning, etc.) can rebuild the faith you have in your abilities.