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How to Get Motivation Back on Track When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

How to Get Motivation Back on Track When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

Earlier this year, I had moved to Bali in search of the inspiration and motivation I had lost years ago. It got to the point where the needle within me no longer moved and that ambitious girl with a long curated bucket list was no longer to be found. So, I talked to my mentor – my father, and with every encouragement, he told me to set my sights high and if all else fails, there are a thousand more other ventures to embark on. I then set off and moved to Bali in hopes to find that motivated girl I once knew.

Six months into my nomadic journey, I noticed I still had no fuel and instead fell in a deeper hole of failures – a long list of rejected jobs, a pool of credit card debt, and an unclear vision for what I wanted to build for myself.

That all changed the night I received a phone call that changed my entire life. My father had unexpectedly passed away and out of thin air that fire within me had begun to burn.

There are two feelings that every one of us can relate to – the euphoric feeling of success and the discouraging feeling of failure. We continuously go through these motions of experiencing limitless possibilities that propel us with more energy, more drive, and more motivation. Then we have those moments where we dip deeply in our doubts that every ounce of effort to swim back up seemingly weighs us down even more.

The truth is, there is a fire in all of us and there always has been. Becoming too fixated on our failures can make it hard to find that fire or even believe that a fire exists – but it does.

In order to find that fire again, you must first re-shift that focus. So here’s how to get motivation back on track when you’re feeling like a failure:

1. Change your focus

Notice how I mentioned my credit card debt, unclear vision, and a long list of rejected jobs, there? That’s all I was focusing on.

Now it’s time to check in and ask yourself, what are you really focusing on?

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  • Is it a number of missed opportunities you wished you had taken?
  • Is it a string of moments and events that didn’t bring you happiness?
  • Is it a project that resulted in a way you didn’t expect after putting in much dedicated hours and hard work?

Sometimes, we get caught up in this cycle of how to’s rather than the do’s – which is more of a distraction than a motivation.

Other times, we don’t even notice how much focus we’re putting in one particular part of our journey or project without taking a few steps back to see the overall picture.

Most times, we focus on our failures and why we haven’t reached that goal versus looking at all the baby steps that matter – and they matter.

As the saying goes,“one step forward, two steps back.” Life’s unforeseen and even predicted circumstances will always put you two steps back. It isn’t to discourage you on your journey, but instead is giving you an opportunity to take a look at how far you have come and to admire how much more you have to go.

It’s about self-assessing and asking yourself what is working for you. It’s also about taking a breather.

See, what I did there? I just re-shifted the focus.

2. Listen to your inner needle

There’s an inner needle within all of us, which we may either not pay much attention to.

There’s much truth to the saying, “you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others,” but here’s the irony – sometimes the motivation lies behind the person you are motivated by.

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Whether it be your hard-working mom who worked two jobs to put food on the table for you while you were growing up, the restaurant busboy who saves his tips in order to put himself through flight school, or your boss who navigates through million dollar contracts with confidence and character, there is a particular reason why that specific person moves that needle within you – it’s an admired quality they carry.

Listen to that needle and find those qualities within yourself and believe they truly exist.

In order to do this, try putting yourself in the shoes of someone you admire.

For an example, the restaurant busboy putting himself through flight school. He’s working a part-time job while saving enough money to attend flight school because he wants to fly the huge aircrafts that he watches from his rooftop everyday. He doesn’t come from a well to do family and lives in a small town without the accessibility to flight schools and proper training programs.

What motivates him to work those two jobs? It’s the dream. What motivates the dream? It’s to build something for himself and to return home in uniform to make his mother proud. The motivation here is his mother, and this is what motivated my father to leave the small island of Guam in order to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot and fly the Boeing 747 aircraft around the world.

Sometimes it helps to look beyond who motivates you, but instead why.

3. Find your “why”

After my father’s death, I had found my “why” and that is to live with intention – the intention to live a colorful life for the both of us.

With every new day is a new canvas, a new 24 hours, a reset button.

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Deciding on your “why” is the first step to regaining motivation, but acting on your why is what gets the ball rolling.

Tomorrow provides to be a new startover, and by acting on your why today, it will bring you something you did not have yesterday and that is confidence.

When you’re in a place when you’re unmotivated and stuck, confidence is gold. Confidence gets you out of bed and with that confidence you have the mindset to conquer.

4. Reach out to your mentor

Mentors play a huge role in your personal and professional growth. They are individuals – with no limits to the number of mentors one can have– who are there to give you advice and also support you during setbacks.

A mentor is a support system to help motivate you when you feel like a failure and believe in you more than you probably believe in yourself. You can count on them to ask the most powerful and hard-hitting questions with no room for you to run from yourself.

When you’re feeling stuck or failing in life, reach out to that person who’s willing to show you that mirror into your internal self and allow them to guide you back.

To help you find a suitable mentor, these things are what to look for in a good mentor.

5. Defy gravity

Everyone has come across a period in their lives when they lose that momentum. It happens.

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Have you noticed how much energy it takes letting a ball fall to the ground compared to throwing it up in the air? There’s more resistance throwing something compared to letting it free fall – consider that your thoughts.

When certain events in our lives knock us off course, the doubts, negativity, and ideas of failure can drown us quicker and faster than it takes to turn those thoughts back around. These negative thoughts can easily turn into a habit of only pointing out everything you have done wrong versus pointing out everything you have done right.

This is a mirror to our efforts.

Losing motivation happens to everyone, and it’s no hidden secret that the ladder to success or the climb to our place of peace is as simple. By picking out the small things to be grateful, happy, and excited about, the swim back up to the surface gets easier.

Final Thoughts

There’s no perfect remedy or magical switch that can instantly bring those feelings of motivation back into our lives. For some people, it takes something traumatic to occur to reignite that fire; whereas for others, it takes reconnecting to the things and people who ground them.

Keep in mind that your defintion of failure can also be limited to your own beliefs and what you would consider it to be. As humans, it’s natural to be hard on ourselves, but self-compassion also means being a friend to ourselves.

Just remember:

  • Taking two steps back isn’t considered a failure, it’s an observation.
  • Reaching out to others isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s self-growth.
  • Losing motivation doesn’t mean you’re off track, it’s a temporary standstill.

Life comes in waves and although it may feel like you’re sinking under, know that what goes down will eventually make its way back to the top.

Featured photo credit: Max Brown via unsplash.com

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Akina Chargualaf

Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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Published on September 25, 2020

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, I think we can all agree that it’s present. When it does show up, it takes over the show. It then becomes difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion. This is probably when self-care finally comes to our mind.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response. According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

Why is this important? While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios. Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as dire, and essentially locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

On a mental and emotional scale, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior.” Everything is interconnected. When our physical body takes a toll due to stress, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

How to Combat Stress?

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

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1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being. Stress is just brewing!

One exercise to get this under control is called a Brain Dump, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up. Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph. Don’t think too much of how it looks. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are — they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It Out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body! If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,[3]

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“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why having a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

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Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice).

4. Interrupt Your Day

This may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also de-stress your day.

As I said in the earlier tip, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing.

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5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture. As I said in a previous tip, moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional. In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment. It’s a beautiful way to self-care!

Final Thoughts

Stress is unfortunately a common part of our life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed, but they will help you manage it better.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress

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