Losing motivation and how to fix it
Last week was a real struggle. I came back from holidaying in Byron Bay to a storm of unforeseen issues at work and life. For some reason I let these things affect me and my mood. It distracted me from my goals and what I need to execute that week.
Motivation is an interesting thing. It’s the reason why you want to do something. It’s the fuel that gets you going. It’s a feeling and as we know, feelings don’t always necessarily last….
“Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea, without consciously realising it, that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action… I really don’t know why we believe this, because it is 100 percent nonsense.”
Heidi Grant, social psychologist
And then when motivation disappears, procrastination kicks in.
So why do we delay doing the tasks that get us closer to the things we want?
To combat procrastination and to kick start my motivation again, I got back to basics…
Revisiting your ‘why’:
Why are you doing this?
Who or what is your motivation?
E.g. I’m doing this uni course so I can have a better career. This will create satisfaction within myself doing something I’m passionate about, but also financially will create more stability.
Then with your ‘why’ - see it, feel it, hear the sounds that accompany the end result, elite athletes visualise their performance ahead of time so why can’t you?
Figuring out the reasoning for lack of motivation and procrastination:
The next step is identifying the actual problem that’s causing me to avoid the activity. This way I can then appropriately choose which action needs to happen next.
Reasons for procrastination could be:
1. Feel like I’m not making progress
2. Feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start
3. I’m afraid of failing
4. I just dislike the task itself
Cool beans, now we’re at the fun part. What do we actually need to do to make this happen?
If you’re feeling like you’re not making progress…
It’s hard to feel motivated when you have to clap for yourself.
Humans are intrinsically motivated by instant gratification and considering that most projects are rarely built overnight, this tendency is rather inconvenient. So how can we feel instantly gratified? Give yourself some small wins by celebrating milestones.
I like to do this 2 ways:
I’m food driven, so I set myself a task and when I complete it I get a snack or a coffee. Yep, that simple.
When I really am hardcore procrastinating I go back to when I started and revisit everything I’ve have done this far. I like to have a calendar reminder set for once a month, and to write down all my stats and activities/actions I’ve taken so I can see how the project has grown. This way when I’m struggling with motivation, I can look back at my growth and then share the news (#humblebrag) to a loved one.
If you’re not sure where to start - create a plan…
If I’m feeling overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, I start by writing a list.
“A major source of stress in our lives comes from the feeling that we have an impossible number of things to do. If you take on a project and try to do the whole thing all at once, you’re going to be overwhelmed.”
- Tony Robbins
So break down:
What are the things that I can control?
What are the steps that I need to take? Get specific and very detailed
What are the tools I need to accomplish it?
What are the obstacles in my way?
Are there other potential obstacles that I can think of?
What steps can I take to work through those obstacles?
What can I do to create an environment that eliminates distractions and helps me focus?
Breaking down each step (in dot point 2) into small pieces and then crossing them off is the best feeling (and goes back to receiving instant gratification).
If you’re afraid of failing…
Stalling due to fear of failure or perfectionism can get to the best of us. This tendency can show up for us in the form of delayed launch dates, missed deadlines, and “productive procrastination” (I like to proscrasti-bake).
When the fear hits me I talk it through with my close circle of humans, because it’s always way less worse/scary than it actually is.
If you just dislike the task…
Probably the most common reason for procrastination.
In this situation, instant gratification can work wonders (love a food reward), or a strategy called “if-then planning.” The process involves identifying the specific steps needed to complete a task and — most importantly — where and when you will do it.
For example: If it’s 10 a.m. then I will stop what I’m doing and and call that person I don’t want to talk to.
Also just holding yourself accountable. Research shows that after setting a specific goal, 70% of individuals who sent a weekly update to a friend were successful in meeting their achievements (met either halfway or fully), compared to the other 30% that did not. So perhaps get an accountability buddy on board to check in and keep you in line.
These are just some of the methods that have worked for me over the years of university, work and life. Obviously everyone has unique personality traits, motivations, distractions and reasons for procrastinating.