Ever felt unmotivated and simply not in the mood to do anything?
Yeah, me too. Even though I'm always motivated and all ready to take action on my goals, I have times when I feel disconnected with my inner muse. No matter whether you are Seth Godin or Robert Kiyosaki, all of us have our own down times where we don't feel like doing anything. It happens. Our productivity plummets to an all-time personal low as we drag our feet around on things we should be doing. It can be frustrating.
When left unchecked, this lack of motivation can get out of hand. Rather than let your productivity yo-yo based on your mood, you should learn to get in control of the situation and counteract with self-motivation strategies. Below are my 9 strategies to deal with situations of low motivation, and they have been proven to work wonders for myself, my readers and my clients.
- Design your vision
One of the biggest reasons why we are not motivated is because we are not connected with our vision. Specifically, the vision of what we are trying to achieve. What are you working so hard for every day? What do you want to get out of this? What is your dream outcome? What are your end goals? What will excite and spur you to move forward?
While I'm busy writing and growing my blog, The Personal Excellence Blog, every day, I never lose sight of my end vision. My vision is to have a reader base of millions, travel around the world to speak to people, launch my books and touch the lives of people everywhere. I may not be there yet, but I know I'll reach there as long as I keep working hard. For example, after 1.5 years, The Personal Excellence Blog is now read by over 100,000 readers a month and I'm an established personal excellence coach and speaker in my country (Singapore). Even just typing about this now is making me feel very inspired by what's ahead. With a big vision, it spurs me to create endlessly, rather than settle for status quo.
- Get clear on the 'WHY'
Lack of motivation can come from losing sight of the "WHY" - why we do the things we do. We are so busy with work and managing different areas of our life that every day turns into a routine of activities. It becomes a race to get as much done, without consciously evaluating why we are doing all these things.
Why do you live? Why do you do the things you do? Why do you slough away at work? What is it for? What do you want to get out of it? These are all important questions to ask ourselves, and important questions to have answers to. If you don't have the answers, perhaps it's time to seek them out.
Discovering my life purpose in 2006 has given me endless drive in life. I discovered my passion in helping others to achieve excellence and live their best life. This realization has led me to make bold life decisions, such as quitting my regular, well paying job 2 years ago to pursue my passion in personal development. Since then, I have started The Personal Excellence Blog, coached hundreds to achieve excellence in their lives and started The School of Personal Excellence (my training school). This "WHY" drives me every day to reach greater heights and accomplish more.
- Have deadlines
Your goals should come with deadlines so that you will be spurred into action. After all, by Parkinson's Law, work takes as long as the amount of time we give to it. Not setting a date can cause us to slack off and dwindle on the task. If we set deadlines, we will be triggered to get things done by that date. Specifically when do you want to achieve this? What is your cut-off date? Subsequently, set the deadlines for your weekly and daily tasks too.
Some of my clients told me they don't want to set deadlines as they don't want to stress themselves into achieving the goals. That's a cop-out. Stress from deadlines is only because you attach yourself to the outcome. The deadlines for your goals are meant to be reference points so you can achieve them. You should strive to achieve them, but not beat yourself to a pulp if you don't achieve it. Commit to your deadlines, but don't attach yourself to them.
- Take a rest
Sometimes when we feel unmotivated, it's cue for a rest. Just like a car with no fuel needs to be refueled, if we run out of energy, we need rest. I was in a slump before and it took me a couple of months to realize it was because I wasn't resting at all. I was just working day-after-day and my mind and soul rebelled by taking a hiatus. I couldn't get new ideas for my writing and some items on my task list became chores rather than enjoyments.
So, stop doing whatever you are doing and take a breather. What are some of your hobbies? Spend some time doing them. Get away from your computer too. Engage yourself in things that interest you. Go take a walk in the park, hang out with friends, listen to music, rest, watch a movie, etc. Simply relax. It'll give you renewed focus and energy.
- Do things you love
Sometimes, lack of motivation is a sign from our subconscious that we're not doing things we love. Do you spend a good portion of your time doing things you don't like? This applies to anything, from hanging out with people you don't like, or doing work you are passionless towards.
You don't need to do things you don't like to do. If you feel dead towards something, then stop doing it. There's no point doing things you don't love. Life is too short to be spending it that way. Create an action plan to get out of things you don't like and move towards things you love. As long as you keep yourself stuck with things you feel dead towards, you will forever be held back by them.
For example, after working 2 years at my last job, I reached a state where I completely dreaded work. I was working in brand management and skincare, which was very different from my passion to help others grow. I loved weekends and hated Mondays. I would be hauling myself out of bed and dreading my feet to work during weekdays. Finally, I told myself - this was it. I submitted my resignation letter and left in Sep '08. I never looked back ever since.
- Soak yourself in motivational materials
Surround yourself in inspirational materials, such as self help books, podcasts, inspirational stories of people, inspirational speeches, motivational quotes and personal development blogs like Dumb Little Man, Zenhabits, Lifehack and Seth Godin's blog. Every morning, I set aside some time to read personal development blogs as well as people who inspire me. In my room, I have motivational quotes plastered on my noticeboard, and I have my vision board of my biggest dreams and goals in life. Just looking at them is a simple reminder why I do the things I do (tip #2).
Here are some inspirational materials you can start off with:
* The Way to Happiness
* Steve Job's famous Standford Commencement Speech
* Randy Pausch's Last Lecture
* Philosopher's Notes is a great podcast resource - it condenses the wisdom of self help books into short podcasts
* 101 Inspiring Quotes of All Time (free ebook with over 300+ quotes - Most Inspiring Quotes of All Time)
- Surround yourself with competition
One of the best ways to motivate yourself into action is through competition. When you are in lone man's island, it's easy to descend into a mode of stagnancy. However, when in the face of competition, you will push yourself to do better and better. Look at your goals, and see how you can spice things up with competition. Trying to lose weight? Get friends with similar goals to join in and see who can reach the goal the fastest. Want to grow your business? Benchmark yourself with some of the top people in the industry.
- Hang out with motivated people
As Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Do you notice that when you are around positive people, you become more positive afterward, even when you are by yourself? Similarly, when you hang around motivated people, their vibes will rub off you naturally too. It's kind of like diffusion. You will get motivated and be triggered to take action.
When I'm around higher consciousness people, I consequently get more ideas and feel more stirred than usual to act on my goals. This is why I make it a point to surround myself with positive friends. Even my browser favorites are filled up with blogs and writings of positive people. Reading them almost always give me added inspiration.
- Remind yourself of things you are grateful for
What are the things you are grateful for in your life? Your family? Your friends? Your health? Your life? What are the things that make you happy to be alive and motivate you to live? There are so many things I'm grateful for that the list is endless. I love being alive. I love living my passion, exercising, nightfall, the morning air, sunrises, my friends, my room, my elmo (a birthday gift when I was 15), living a vegan lifestyle, and many, many more. Being aware of these inspires me live life to the fullest.
List down all the things that you feel grateful for in a document somewhere. Feel the gratitude and love for those things that you have. Chances are, there is at least someone in this world who wants this but is unable to get it. Whenever you feel unmotivated, look at this list. It'll remind you of things worth living for.