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Pursuing Your Goals: What to Do When You’re Not ‘Feeling’ Motivated

What to Do When You Lack Motivation

No matter how hard you try, it can sometimes be impossible to get motivated. However, you don’t actually have to be motivated to complete a task, start a project, or reach your goals. Your mind is infinitely malleable, so use the following brain hacks to convince yourself you’re in it.

Act Like You’re Motivated

Remember that motivation isn’t a prerequisite to act. In fact, you can start the day off by “tricking” yourself into feeling motivated. Instead of sitting around in your pajamas all day, get dressed and get moving. Then ask yourself, “what would I be doing if I felt motivated?”

Whether you do your hair and makeup, shave your face, or wash the dishes, do that task and put yourself in the right mindset. In a few minutes, you should feel more motivated.

Argue The Alternative

When we’re struggling with motivation, we often come up with reasons for why we shouldn’t take action. Try to argue the alternative by coming up with reasons why you’ll actually succeed because it’ll remind you that an overly pessimistic outcome isn’t 100% accurate every time.

However, don’t encourage toxic positivity. If your work environment isn’t supportive of your goals, you can use job sites that review employers based on career growth and purpose.

Practice Self-Compassion

Beating yourself up for not being motivated isn’t going to help. Studies show that loving yourself increases your motivation to recover from failure. A key component of self-compassion, self-acceptance, decreases psychological stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Speak to yourself like a trusted friend because you’re likely to be more kind. Remember that healthy self-compassion balances acceptance and improvement; it isn’t a pity party.

Give Yourself 10-Minutes

The hardest part of any task is starting it, but after you get over that initial hurdle, it’s smooth sailing, for the most part. Think of a task you’re dreading, like cleaning the house or working out. When you approach the task, tell yourself that you’ll quit after 10 minutes if you want to stop.

More often than not, you’ll want to keep going. You’re already doing the task, so it’ll be much easier to keep going. Plus, you won’t want to stop and kill the motivation you already have.

Rework Your To-Do List

When you find it difficult to get motivated, you’ll notice your to-do list getting longer and longer. If you don’t reduce the number of projects on your list, you’ll become overwhelmed. While you may have a lot to do, you don’t have to complete everything today, and that’s okay.

Start reworking your to-do list by prioritizing the most critical tasks. Anything that you can do “later” can be moved to another day, making today’s tasks more digestible and manageable.

Work on Self-Care

You may stop taking care of yourself as your tasks start piling up, but if you don’t focus on your needs, it’ll be even harder for you to get motivated. Create a healthy care plan that includes eating a healthy diet, exercising, sleeping, drinking water, and making time for leisure and fun.

Keep in mind that “fun” shouldn’t include unhealthy habits, like binge eating and drinking alcohol. Using bad habits as a coping mechanism will surely tank your motivation.

Reward Yourself

It’s always nice to receive a reward after a hard day’s work, but it’s challenging to come up with rewards that don’t stall your progress. For example, if you want to lose weight, eating a piece of chocolate after every 30 minutes of work may work up an appetite and cause you to overeat.

Try to brainstorm different kinds of rewards that don’t lead to sabotage. You’ll also want to experiment with different strategies and reward frequency to find an approach that works.

Speak to a Psychiatrist

If you usually don’t have an issue with motivation or you’ve been experiencing a low mood for some time, you should make an appointment with a psychologist. There are several reasons why you may lack motivation, including mental health issues, self-doubt, and avoidance.

Adult ADHD may be the culprit if you seem to hyperfocus on some things but can’t keep your attention locked to your work. If you’re constantly missing deadlines or your lack of motivation is affecting your daily functioning, that could be a sign of depression, anxiety, or agoraphobia.

About the Author
Sarilaya Cada is a freelance content writer. She is interested in a wide range of fields, from project management, to education, to engineering.