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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Increase Motivation When You’re in a Slump

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How to Increase Motivation When You’re in a Slump

Before Bruno Mars became a fixture of every wedding playlist ever, he wrote the Lazy Song—a chart-topping ode to just chillin’. In this reggae-infused track, your mother-in-law’s favorite singer proudly proclaims, “Today I don’t feel like doing anything, I just wanna lay in my bed.” It seems Bruno Mars also needed help learning how to increase motivation.

How often have you felt this kind of desire to do nothing? It’s such a common sentiment that religions dedicate entire days of the week to it. You might just need a rest, but what if you feel unmotivated every single day? Well, that is called a slump.

First, know that you’re not alone. A 2017 study found that 85% of employees are disengaged.[1] We go about our tasks in a fog, and some of our days are so redundant that they could inspire a Bill Murray spoof.

In the past, the greats regained motivation through exploration. Before recording the White Album, The Beatles trekked through Northern India and studied transcendental meditation. Steve Jobs did the same, met a guru, and invented the iPhone. Prince Siddhartha left his royal palace one day to realize full enlightenment and became the Buddha.

But with borders closed all around us, the closest thing to wanderlust is grabbing a pizza across town—not quite as invigorating.

The good news is that you don’t need to live like a monk to get back on track. Motivation is everywhere around us; we just need to know where to look. This list is meant to help you overcome a slump—find the sources that speak to you, or just try each one for a day.

Here are some tips on how to increase motivation when you’re in a slump.

1. Unplug (For Real This Time)

You won’t hear this much in the blogosphere where eyeballs mean dollars, but if you’ve stared at a computer screen for the last ten days, pause for a moment and change your surroundings. That work email or application can wait for a moment. Take your lunch to a park, or go for an urban hike.

Listen to the sounds of nature, smell the plants and flowers, breath in fresh air, and feel how the wilderness teems with life. Focus on being entirely in the present moment, and you’ll realize the world didn’t suddenly end in the past year.

2. Put Some Motivation in Your Ear

If you’re stuck in a slump, I’ve found that all it takes is one rousing speech to change your mindset. Changing your mindset is a great way to learn how to increase motivation.

The right motivational content at the right time can transform your attitude. Pop in your headphones, and do a Google search for “motivation.” There are thousands of speeches on YouTube, even mega-mixes of motivational speakers like Joel Osteen, Wayne Dyer, Les Brown, etc. TED has inspiring speeches by Dan Pink, Angela Duckworth, Tony Robbins, and more.

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If you need another motivation boost on top of this, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: Activate Your Motivation.

3. Give Back to Others

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Mahatma Gandhi

When you’re hurting, the best thing you can do for yourself is to help others. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true.

When you focus externally on making a difference in the lives of others, it provides you immense satisfaction, which can also improve motivation. These acts of service make your problems look and feel smaller. Most importantly, you feel more empowered to overcome any challenges you face.

Try this: Go to volunteermatch.org and find a charitable opportunity that is meaningful to you. I promise that giving back will lessen the weight of your problems.

4. Call Your Most Positive Friend

We’ve all heard the adage, “You are the sum of your five closest friends.” It’s true because what our peers say affects us.

If you suffer from negative family members or peers, their cynicism will slowly infect you. Instead, drown them out. If your mother is pessimist-in-chief, tell her you to love her, and then draw some boundaries. Spend more time with people that are always searching for the silver lining.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend or that acquaintance you haven’t spoken to since high school. If you don’t have anyone like that in your community, join Facebook or LinkedIn Groups for positive thinkers. Attend a virtual Meetup of like-minded individuals. Don’t overlook the importance of your inner circle as you’re learning how to increase motivation.

5. Find Your Creative Side

Creativity is an essential skill and will gain more importance in the future. It’s one of the few things that can’t be automated, outsourced, or offshored.

One unseen benefit of the lockdowns was that many people finally had time for creative projects. By invoking our imagination, we can often break through mental blocks at work. This can help us increase our motivation to do things.

Have you ever wanted to write poetry, play an instrument, or paint? Stop talking about it and start doing it. Pull out a piece of paper or buy a starter kit online, and unleash your artistic side to break through your slump.

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6. Create a Bucket List

In the 2007 film The Bucket List, two terminally-ill seniors played by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson decide to live their best life before kicking the bucket—think sky-diving, traveling the world, and taking a safari.

Sure, many of these things are out of reach in 2021, but there’s still plenty of life experiences you can check off in order to boost motivation.

It’s a fantastic time to learn a language, practice photography, or get your start in amateur film-making. You can write that book that you’ve been putting off for years or train to run a marathon. You might rent an RV and explore the backroads of your country.

The possibilities are endless.

7. Listen to Music That Moves You

There’s never been a better time to go deeper into your favorite genres of music or to branch out and explore something new. Start with a “Best of” list, like the Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Use websites like Soundcloud and Spotify’s Discover feature for finding new artists. Genres like classical music help people focus and inspire their creativity. Most importantly, they can help you get out of a funk and back to being productive as you learn how to increase motivation. Achieving your goal will feel a lot easier with some inspirational music in the background.

8. Start a Gratitude Journal

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” -Neale Donald Walsch

Let’s take some lessons from this horrible pandemic—a simple but profound one: just appreciate everything that we have.

This isn’t our first crisis, and it won’t be the last, so let’s take heart in gratitude for the simple pleasures in life. Appreciate that satisfying meal, the roof over your head, loving friends, and family. It’s easy to fall into the cycle of wanting more. Instead, build the habit of writing down three things you’re grateful for in your journal every day.

You don’t need to list a million items. Instead, go deep into why you cherish a few people and things that mean the most to you.

9. Cherish Past Victories

Most people don’t chase their dreams because of fear. They don’t think that they have what it takes—talent, resources, connections—to accomplish their goals. The best antidote is to relive your own victory story.

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Think back to a time where you did something that you previously hadn’t thought possible. Maybe you earned a promotion, got an A in a class, or traveled solo. If it’s been a while since you stepped out of your comfort zone, go back to your childhood.

Remember how you learned to ride a bike when you were scared, made a new friend, or asked someone out even though you were shy. We’ve all overcome fear in the past, so keep it at the forefront of your mind as you learn how to increase motivation each day.

10. Jot Great Ideas Down

You likely have dozens of great ideas each day, but life is a constant stream of distractions. We often forget about these ideas before we can give them a second thought or use them to create measurable goals.

Many comedians and artists get their best ideas in random moments—on the bus or waiting in line at the store. When a motivating idea or thought enters your mind or when you hear it outside, write it down immediately. This way you can refer and build on them later, rather than let them fall into the quicksand of time.

11. Sweat out Stress

I am a firm believer that an incredible workout (and a delicious recovery meal) can cure almost any bad day. It’s no coincidence that so many successful people like to run or jog.

Exercise brings levels of mental clarity like nothing else. If you can’t go to the gym, follow home workout videos on YouTube or stream fitness classes on apps like Peloton. If you prefer doing cardio outdoors, go for a run. 

If you want to build muscle, buy a pull-up bar or kettle-bells and get to work. If you have bad joints, go for a swim in your nearest lake or ocean.

5 Best Workouts to Try at Home. When you exercise, you enhance your… | by Herbalife Nutrition | Herbalife Nutrition | Medium

    The bottom line is that there are so many fun ways to stay in shape[2] and get endorphins flowing, and it can help you as you learn how to increase motivation.

    12. Disable the Distractions

    The average person gets interrupted once every 8 minutes. It’s no wonder that people struggle to stay focused.

    Put your phone on do-not-disturb, or shut it off completely. Do the same for your desktop apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or email. If you’re in a noisy environment, get noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. Follow the Pomodoro Method and set a timer for 25 minutes.

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    By reducing distractions and scheduling regular breaks, you will find yourself getting more done and going deeper into your work. You’ll thus get better results, creating a virtuous cycle of motivation.

    13. Learn From History

    If you’re not sure how to become the best version of yourself, follow those who inspire you. Maybe your idol is a parent or mentor—ask them about their past and find out how they grew to be the person they are today. Investigate the lives of famous people and find where their success left clues. Start with biographies or autobiographies.

    Finding inspiration will help you learn how to increase motivation in the long run.

    14. Just Breathe

    The most important part of my morning routine is meditation. You’re probably familiar with some of the benefits of mindfulness, such as feeling calmer and better able to handle stress by reducing negative thoughts. Through consistent practice, I found that my mental clarity and focus improved, too.

    We all have a “monkey mind” that’s always on the move, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. All of life’s distractions consume our thoughts, even when it’s unproductive. By meditating, we can consciously choose which thoughts to interact with. Through this practice, you also gain the mental space to operate at peak motivation and inspiration.

    15. Reframe Your Questions

    Let’s say that you are demotivated by a problem that seems impossible to solve. What you can do is invest a lot of time upfront framing the right questions.

    In the Tribe of Mentors, author Timothy Ferriss encourages his readers to ask, “How would it look if this [endeavor, goal, etc.] were easy?”

    In The One Thing, author Gary Keller suggests you ask yourself, “What is one thing I can do that would make everything else less important or unnecessary?”

    Think about the problem you want to solve, and ensure you ask the right questions. Also, consider if you have assumptions baked into your line of thinking. Remember: it’s always better to ask (the right) questions than to assume. These methods can turn a frustrating problem into an inspiring solution.

    Final Thoughts

    Everyone encounters a slump at least once in their lives, but what differs from person to person is how they handle it. There are many ways that you can improve motivation when you’re in a slump. You can start with these 15 tips on how to increase motivation to help you overcome that slump and be the best that you can be.

    More on How to Boost Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Tegan Mierle via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Gallup: The World’s Broken Workplace
    [2] Herbalife Nutrition: 5 Best Workouts to Try at Home

    More by this author

    Chris Tubbs

    Biz Dev Leader, MBA, Marathoner, Triathlete, and Writer for Knowyourbest.com

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    Published on October 27, 2021

    The Psychology of Motivation: Why Is Motivation So Powerful?

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    The Psychology of Motivation: Why Is Motivation So Powerful?

    Motivation is an important driving force in people’s lives. It can affect both minor and major aspects of your life. Oftentimes, one’s level of motivation—or lack thereof—can determine their level of success.

    In this article, I will discuss the concepts of motivation and psychology and present six psychological motives that drive people. Moreover, I will present some tips on how you can get motivated and discuss reasons why motivation is so powerful. I will also add my thoughts from my world where motivation plays an important role: the world of athletics.

    What Is Motivation?

    Research indicates that motivation has many definitions. The Oxford Dictionary defines it in several ways:[1]

    • “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a certain way.”
    • “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”
    • “Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behavior.”

    We can conclude from these definitions that motivation is the driving force behind what we do and the key ingredient to accomplishing goals.

    There are two primary types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is doing an activity to attain an outcome, usually a reward of some kind. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is “an internal drive for success or sense of purpose.” Research states that the more effective of the two—the motivation that leads to the best results—is intrinsic.[2]

    Kevin Kruse validated the value of intrinsic motivation when he wrote,

    “Life is about making an impact, not an income.”

    Stephen Covey said it a different way,

    “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone tries to light that fire, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

    What Is Psychology?

    American Psychology defines psychology as “the scientific study of the mind and behavior.”[3] There are six insights that psychology has brought to us regarding the forces behind motivation.

    1. Money and rewards – Some people are driven to make as much money as they can so they can flaunt their wealth in their community. Others see money as a necessity to take care of their families.
    2. Desire to be the best – I believe that the key factor to be the best stems from a willingness to prepare. Michael Jordan and Tom Brady are prime examples of the 5P’s—”Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”
    3. Helping others –  Albert Einstein said it best when he wrote, “I can think of no reason why we are here but to help others.”
    4. Power and fame – I think a great number of people who attain fame do not pursue it. They simply go to work, roll up their sleeves, attain fame, and remain humble.
    5. Recognition – Take it with a grain of salt. It can vanish quickly and permanently!
    6. Passion – I am from the same town as Rudy Ruettiger from the movie, “Rudy.” I do know Rudy well and I can say without hesitation that it was his passion that got him admitted into Notre Dame, to play football there, and to get his outstanding movie to the public.

    Why is Motivation So Powerful?

    I believe that the goal of extrinsic motivation is to get people to reach intrinsic motivation, which is a very powerful driving force. Below are the five main reasons why intrinsic motivation is so powerful.[4]

    1. It Leads to Better Persistence

    I can think of no worthwhile endeavor that I was involved with that was easy. Most accomplishments face obstacles and failure along the way. Persistent people beat them.

    Persistent people develop a strong Failure Quotient (FQ). Losing is a part—and often a big part—of an athletic season. According to Stan Kellner in his book, Taking it to the limit with basketball-cybernetics: A revolutionary mind-training program for winning performance, those who do succeed in developing a strong FQ approach losing in two ways: learn from it or move on. Moving on may be the tougher of the two to accomplish, but it is essential for future success. An oft-used refrain in athletics is that you need to have a short memory—forget the failure and move on now.

    2. It Enhances Engagement

    In their research, Kuvaas and Dysvik found that “intrinsically motivated employees were more likely to be highly engaged and more involved in their work, as well as display a greater readiness to step up and take responsibility.”[5] People who step up to the plate get things done!

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    All great athletes are motivated to work on their own. Very few people realize all the time they invest on their own. When Michael Jordan came back to the Chicago Bulls after his stint in baseball, he and the Bulls lost in the playoffs. He knew he had to get his basketball legs back, but he had signed to make the movie, Space Jam. So, he had an outdoor basketball court built on the movie property so he could practice between and after sets. Even the greatest basketball player ever still needed to practice on his own.

    3. Intrinsically Motivated Learning Is More Effective

    Hinton Zigler presented the power of learning succinctly when he wrote,

    “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”

    I have always believed great teachers do four things: they know their subject matter, they are organized, they teach with enthusiasm, and they care about their students in and out of the classroom. However, no matter how outstanding that teacher may be, if the student is not motivated to learn, he will not learn. In the last analysis, only one person is responsible for your body of work—you!

    4. We Perform Better When Intrinsically Motivated

    When we are intrinsically motivated, we strive for perfection in any task we take on. Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, stressed the efficacy of perfection when he wrote,[6]

    “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

    Motivated people do find excellence and find it often.

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    5. Intrinsically Motivated People Are More Likely to Stay

    Motivated people stay with you through the tough times, but non-motivated people leave when times get tough.

    When a new coach is hired to take over a program, they are often hired because the program has fallen on bad times—they are losing. There is a real possibility that it will take three to five years to turn the program around, and that is why new coaches are often given five-year contracts. Given this reality, the coach must recruit or draft talented players. However, that is not enough. They will also want to bring in players of character because they stick with you through the tough times.

    5 Ways to Get Motivated

    According to Kendra Cherry, there are certain psychological factors regarding motivation that you can use to your advantage. She claims that these psychological techniques can help you feel more motivated in life.[7] Below are five ways to get motivated.

    1. Use Incentives Carefully

    Be cautious with rewards. She emphasized that we should not compliment someone for being smart or athletic—instead, compliment them for the effort they make to be smart or athletic.

    In addition to complimenting someone for their effort, we took it one step further. We found that a good number of people could give great effort on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday but could not reach down and find that same effort on Thursday and Friday. So, we told our athletes that effort is not enough and that the difference between good and great is the consistency of effort. The great ones can find the best they have to give daily. None of us have our “A Game” every day, but the great ones consistently find their best.

    2. Introduce Challenges

    It often seems to me that the challenges I have been most apprehensive about have been the best things I have ever done. I have traveled overseas to present basketball camps and speak at clinics. I certainly found this work challenging. I wanted to give presentations that would be valuable to the players and coaches, and I was nervous. The one thing I found that helped me get through nervousness was preparation. I spent a great deal of time preparing for these challenges.

    3. Don’t Visualize Success

    This goes against the modern theory of visualization. The usual concept is to see yourself doing the activity successfully. Instead, Cherry believes that you should visualize the steps it will take to achieve success.

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    I do not necessarily agree with her on this premise for motivation. I believe in visualization—you should see the goal, the end result. Shooting free throws in basketball is a great time to visualize. I believe seeing the ball going through the net is more important than trying to break down all the steps to get to that objective. Visualize the success.

    4. Take Control

    Cherry does not promote trying to dominate a project. She does, however, promote ascertaining how you can contribute to the success of the project.

    Most projects you undertake necessitate teamwork, and it is important to understand that you are part of a team and that your main goal is to contribute to the team’s success. In athletics, we look at this concept a little differently. We want the team to develop the “Disposition to Dominate.” It is still about the team, but we want the team to dominate.

    5. Focus on the Journey, Not the Outcome

    In athletic competition, you want the outcome to be victory, but your focus cannot be on the victory. Your focus must be on the process it will take to get the victorious outcome. If you fail to concentrate on the things you must do to achieve success, you will never arrive at a successful conclusion.

    Final Thoughts

    The psychology of motivation gives us insights into the kind of mindset we need for us to excel in life. Those who pursue perfection leading to excellence are the most powerful and productive people in any organization. They don’t need extrinsic motivation because they are driven internally—it’s in their DNA.

    More Tips on Gaining Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Quino Al via unsplash.com

    Reference

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