We often talk about identifying and setting goals that motivates you. However, your goals may not motivate you all the time. There are moments when you feel drained and lazy, and the low energy level lasts for hours, days or even weeks.
What should we do then?
It is perfectly normal to have times like this. We are all humans and it is necessary to relax at appropriate times in this marathon of life. Yet as we start to enjoy a bit too much of our lazy times, it is important to figure out the way to continue our journey of growth.
Good news is the fact that you have reached this link or somehow searched “searching for motivation” or similar phrases on Google, you are just a step or two away from restarting your engine!
Where does your motivation come from?
Motivation is the internal urge that pushes you to work towards a goal.
If you constantly have a growth mindset, motivation comes more easily because visualising achieving your goal gives you excitement and you feel energised to take actions towards your goal. Learn more about growth mindset by reading Change Your Life by Developing a Growth Mindset.
Reaching a goal, however, is often not a smooth ride. Sometimes we may feel exhausted because we are not achieving much despite the consistent hard work. Especially for some long term goals, we could be stuck in a particular step or stage and feel we are not getting anywhere.
The fear of failing, self-doubt and other negative emotions come into our way and diminish the effect of the emotional inspiration you originally get from visualising your goal. At this point, when you think about your goal, it gives you more stress than positive feelings. The more you think about it, the more it makes you question your ability to achieve the goals.
Finding your motivation back then becomes key.
Activating your passion
The “Do Something” Principle
When you are motivated, you do something.
When you do something, you become motivated, too.
In fact, motivation is not just a cause of action but also an effect of action. This is called the “do something” principle.
Applying the principle, rather than lying in bed to wait for an energy spike from nowhere, you should always get up and do something. If you are supposed to study for an exam but don’t feel motivated, pick up a textbook and read a bit, just a bit to begin with. If you plan to do a run but don’t feel energised, just start with a little jogging. Trick your mind to at least make a start.
To do something is to create momentum. The momentum drives your mental bicycle so that energy flows continuously to keep it moving. Once you have created the momentum, you will start to feel more motivated to do more of what you desire.
Identify your sources of energy
Some people become motivated in the morning if they have a nice breakfast and get dressed in work clothes; the other people are energised at night when they are alone in a quiet room; some others feel like working after a run or after tidying up the work desk. There are numerous factors that would affect our productivity and energy levels.
As we get energised by different things, it is important to observe your own pattern and identify what helps with your motivation. The environment, preparation work, state of mind and habits are things that you can manage to maximise your energy level.
Motivation dips when things are repetitive and mundane. Even if you enjoy writing a lot, there are still times when you feel tired of doing it the same way you do every day. When this happens, consider making a change or adding some variations. Change the environment by going to an outdoor cafe. Instead of starting your day with work, take a detour to the park. Little things like these help break the routine and can potentially give you new sources of motivation.
Maintaining your drive: the use of a to-do list
Now that we have learnt to generate motivation, let’s look at how we can keep our driving force up.
A way to stay motivated is single-tasking, that is, to do one thing at a time with your full attention. And once you have completed a task, cross it out from your to-do list. This is a highly useful technique when you are working on a relatively big or time-consuming task.
The longer you have worked on the task, the less excited and motivated you become. At this point, you should review your to-do list, check off the items you have completed and if possible, break your tasks down further and begin again with the easier ones. The use of a checklist gives your mind a little pause to reorganize the things that need to be done. It also allows your energy to flow again from accomplishing a small task.
Make sure you give yourself a break at appropriate times to freshen up. If you have not finished your planned task, make sure you time your recess so that you won’t end up chilling for three hours.
Discipline is key here.
Recycling your motivation
At the end of the day, it is vital to reflect on your progress and achievements. If you think you have made good progress, give yourself a little treat or reward; if you think you have achieved little, you should still give yourself some credit for at least trying.
Trying does not guarantee success but it is a sign that you are somehow improving and moving towards the direction of your goal. Accept that it is part of life that some days are just less productive than others and don’t stress about it.
Growth is often described as a “two steps forward, one step back” process. For example, you have finished your “strong abs” challenge for three days in a row but you failed on the fourth day. Despite the slip on the fourth day, you should nevertheless see your three-day success as an achievement.
The point here is, though we should stay motivated as much as possible, we need to accept that we can be tired, unmotivated and we do fail at times. Once these times are over and we regain motivation, we are back in the game!
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