Do you know that feeling when you are hyped and ready to take on a new challenge? You are taken over by a surge of motivation and excitement and you’ve made a commitment you fully intend to stick to. It sounds familiar, right?
Perhaps you declared your intention to dedicate more time to self-care, or you signed up to that online course, or invested in a pack of exercise classes, or you set a goal to read 20 pages a day. Whatever it is you devoted yourself to – you meant it when you said it.
Then you get started; initially you are doing well, perhaps you even set out better than you had planned, and it feels GOOD.
We’ve all been there. After that early high, we begin to feel the motivation declining. It’s disheartening – what happened? Keeping it up doesn’t feel as effortless as it once did and you have to push yourself to stick to your target.
Eventually, full-blown procrastination kicks in and your vision is falling by the wayside.
This drop in motivation is worrisome, mainly because you turn inwards. So you begin to question yourself, your capability, and your ability to stick to anything. As well as this, you feel bad that you have spent money or made promises that are feeling like a chore right now.
The problem arises when people use this turn of events to question their own self-worth and self-esteem because they are not as motivated as they once were. I meet too many people who blame themselves for lack of motivation.
What if you were able to take a step back and realize that it is not just you this happens to. Nope, trust me, you are not alone. This is a regular cycle that hits the best of us.
This does not reflect you individually, it’s just your feelings and drive are not at the same peak they were when you started out. Naturally, what goes up must go down – including that high of motivation and excitement.
Much of what is going on can be explained by science. Your initial motivation is caused by the release of dopamine as you imagine your goals and the positive outcome of what you want – these spikes make you feel good and you are driven to take action and keep this feeling alive.
Over time, those spikes reduce, and we don’t feel the same thrill we once did. There are many reasons why this happens. It could be that reality kicks in as you realize there is more to this than you initially understood, or you have become accustomed to the change, or results may take longer than you anticipated, or maybe you may have taken your eye off the prize.
Take a step back and question why you may not be feeling the same excitement. It’s good to do so as it will help you get perspective on what is really going on, rather than simply criticizing yourself.
Once you have reflected (providing you have not decided this commitment is totally sucking the life out of you and turns out to be a terrible idea for you) and got some understanding, you are in a better position to realize you do not have to give up just because you don’t feel the same level of excitement anymore. Nope, you can choose to continue with your plan.
Below I have outlined 7 top tips to help you rise back up when your motivation has dipped. I honestly use these very ideas myself and hope you find them just as useful.
Reconnect with your WHY
First up, one of the greatest things you can do is trigger intrinsic motivation (motivation that comes from within).
Take some intentional time out to check in with your why. Why did you feel excited about this in the first place? Why did you want this? Why is this important to you?
If you want to get your motivation back, then seriously reconnect. Journal, meditate, walk, or do what works for you. Get still and feel into why this is valuable to you and what it means for your life to stay committed to this change.
Quit waiting for the motivation
The best advice I ever read (sadly I’m unsure where) went something like this “stop waiting for motivation to fall from the sky because it’s not going to happen”. Action precedes motivation. You act first and then motivation follows. Just like that time you couldn’t be bothered to meet your friends but once you got there, you had a great time. You were pleased you made the effort.
Schedule it in
Schedule in what you need to do and when. Knowing you have a plan and time put aside can help you to feel better about yourself and the situation.
You are more likely to stick to a plan if you have put it in your diary.
Follow the plan and not your mood
This is a phrase we use in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy interventions for depression. Follow the plan you have made, not your mood. If you follow your mood you may well take no action. Don’t believe your feelings, they are not always talking truth. If you are prone to not doing what you say you will, then this is a good technique to master.
Don’t beat yourself up
Honestly, don’t be so hard on yourself. This reduction of motivation does not reflect your worth or value as a human being. You are simply experiencing a drop in motivation and need to make some moves to power through. Don’t make this personal. The more you beat yourself up, the worse you feel; the worse you feel, the less excitement you feel about doing most things. It’s a vicious cycle.
Check your thought traps
Check in with yourself. Be sure you are not falling into traps of comparing yourself and telling yourself you are not good enough for this. That is not your voice, it’s your fear speaking.
Change is scary for people – we like things to be familiar (even if that means being miserable).
Don’t underestimate yourself here, you can do this. Ask yourself, are you self-sabotaging? If you conclude you are, choose again. Choose your dreams, choose your WHY.
Share your goals
It’s true that accountability can help us to get a boost back. Tell someone your plans or better yet, get them involved. Set up a study hour, share your calendar or have weekly check-ins. It can also add to the fun to have someone else involved.
As a bonus, they may appreciate the opportunity for themselves.
A lack of motivation right now does not mean this is not important to you. You are a step ahead because you are here, which means you have the self-awareness to know your motivation has dropped and you are open to the idea that it can be restored.
Knowing this is only part of the battle, the next part is taking action – this part is up to you. Where are you going to start?