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How to Effectively Overcome a Lack of Motivation

How to Effectively Overcome a Lack of Motivation

If you are not motivated from the outset, you won’t have the impetus to take the first step you need to accomplish what you want. If you don’t find a way to stay motivated until you reach your goal, you won’t have the energy you need to get there.

Getting motivated about what you want to do is always easy; but staying motivated afterwards is far more challenging. It is far simpler to get motivated than it is to stay motivated.

How easily do you go from motivation to apathy? Zig Ziglar said it perfectly when he said that motivation doesn’t last, just like bathing, which is why it is recommended daily.

Here are 4 common reasons why you lose motivation and what you can do about it

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1. It is too far out of reach

One of the most common reasons to start losing motivation is when the task starts to get more difficult than anticipated. Have you ever felt really motivated to begin with, but as time goes by your motivation quickly disappears as you realize how challenging it really is? If you don’t feel confident that you can do what you want to and your goal seems too far out of reach, you won’t feel very motivated to take action.

  • If you start to lose confidence and hesitation occurs, don’t give up. First ask yourself; “What is making this so difficult for me?” You want to identify what is causing you to feel this way and what would give you more confidence to continue. Write down whatever comes to mind. It could be that you lack some skill, self esteem, clarity, or time, etc
  • Once you have identified what is causing this, you can now come up with ways to overcome this and you will feel motivated to keep going forward. Instead of giving up on your goal, find a way to feel more confident about your abilities, create mini-goals to support your bigger goal and get motivated again. If you give up because it becomes to difficult, you will be giving up on a lot of things in your life.

2. Feeling trapped

Have you ever felt motivated about what you are doing but felt stuck to take action on it at the same time? If you feel stuck you will procrastinate and quickly start to lose motivation to keep going.

Whenever you want to do something new or take action on a goal, you need to have your feelings and actions aligned. When your feelings are not aligned with the action, nothing will flow and you will feel stuck.When you feel trapped, check in with yourself and identify whether it is the action or your feelings that are stopping you. What are your thoughts and true feelings towards this goal and the actions that you need to take to get there?

Let’s say you are a freelancer looking to take on more clients, this is your main objective. One of the strategies you chose is to send out your portfolio and pitch potential clients. You know this strategy has a high success rate so you have decided to include it in your plan.

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  • If your feelings and thoughts are not aligned, you would think this is a good step to take, but you might then feel stuck because you lack confidence in approaching potential clients and selling yourself. You will get stuck and lose motivation.
  • If your actions are not aligned, you would feel confident in your abilities to sell, but you don’t think this is the best action to take to reach your goal, you reluctantly chose it because you read it was a good thing to do. You will get stuck and lose motivation.

Identity what is keeping you stuck and change what needs to be. Get unstuck and you will get the motivation you need to push forward.

3. You cannot see the return on your investment

Just because something is good for you, it doesn’t mean that you will immediately be motivated by it, you need to have a high return on investment. You need to see a clear and motivating connection between the efforts you put in and what you get out.  A huge mistake is ‘assuming’ that you will be motivated by something and riding on a false sense that ‘this should be motivating’ when it simply isn’t.

You will start to lose motivation when you feel that you have to put in much more effort than you what you think you will get out in the end. There are two ways things you could do in this situation, either decide that it isn’t worth it or spot the reasons why this is something really awesome to do.

  • Intrinsic rewards are more motivating than extrinsic rewards so you can start by connecting your objectives to your values. When your objectives are aligned with your true values, you will find it easier to put the effort in and stay motivated.
  • Then, link as many benefits to what you want to do and bi-benefits, the benefits of those benefits. Find as many meaningful reasons why your intentions would be good for you as you can. Challenge yourself to come up with a list of at least 10 benefits to renew your motivation again.
  • Lastly, you could also get clear on what will happen if you don’t take action. You might find that you are more motivated to move away from what you don’t want than to move towards something you do want.

4.  Feeling disappointed

Ever felt like you were on a canoe rowing upstream, against the current? It is a constant struggle and it feels like you are just not making any progress not matter what. When there are so many struggles, obstacles and challenges ahead and you go from disappointment to disappointment, you lose motivation very quickly.

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Imagine turning the canoe around and letting it flow downstream instead. You can do this by changing the way you are looking at the situation. Feeling let down is not a nice feeling, no one wants to feel let down. Is it possible that there is a message in the ‘let downs’, they are neither good nor bad? Often we keep attracting the same experience until we learn how to manage it in a different better way.

Sometimes you just need to keep hearing the ‘no’s to get to the right yeses’ or sometimes you need see the gift in the situation instead of reacting blindly and only seeing what you want to. These could also be the exact challenges you need to overcome to grow and support you when you reach your goal in the end. If you feel disappointed it is because of the way you see the situation, is it possible there is a better way to look at it? If there is, you will no longer feel a lack of motivation in anyway.

 

If you want to effectively overcome your lack of motivation, identify why it went and then, take massive action to seek out that motivation again – it is always there, you only need to take that extra step to find it and bring it back.

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To your success!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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