“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” – Unknown
I have a dear friend named Sarah. Sarah is this wildly talented, creative woman who often finds herself discouraged. I remember I watched last year as she breezed through her short term goals, but couldn’t make anything happen long term. Time and time again, I’ve watched as Sarah falls into a funk and struggles to pull herself out in time to make bigger goals happen. It’s cost her some wonderful opportunities, a few promising men, and her self-esteem has certainly taken a hit. After watching it happen again about a year ago, I decided to very carefully broach the topic with her. I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries, but I had a hunch that I could help her out.
One afternoon, she was telling me about a narrowly failed business venture. “Everything was going really well, and as the deal got closer to closing, I lost the motivation to close it. Then I began avoiding it for fear of screwing up, and then I screwed it up. Now, I’m back at square one.”
“Do you think you sabotaged yourself?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s just that once I get down on myself, I can’t pick it back up quickly enough to recover without ruining everything. I just can’t stay motivated no matter how much I know I want it.”
I was happy to hear Sarah identified her own problem. I was aware of it before I had suggested something else, but I knew I could only offer her help if she could identify the problem herself. Once she gave me the green light, I did just that, and now I’ll share those same tips with you.
7 Tips to Keep Yourself Motivated When You’re Not Feeling It
1. Not Everyone has an Unlimited Pool of Determination and Passion
Sometimes, successful people lead us to believe that they keep going, 24/7/365 based on sheer willpower and passion. You hear buzzwords everywhere and you think that if you just find that one thing that drives you, you’ll be all set. Naturally, if you believe this and find yourself struggling to find that one thing, you might feel defeated. Remove the notion that you’re missing a secret ingredient. You aren’t missing anything. Rather, you’re misunderstanding, which brings me to my next point.
2. Endurance is Essential
Don’t mistake endurance with discipline either, as that’s another common mistake. Endurance is the ability to do the same thing, over and over. It’s knowing that your task may not get more interesting, may not change, but is serving its purpose toward your greater goals. You can work on your endurance by starting small and working your way forward.
3. Don’t Drain Yourself of All Your Resources
If you have trouble getting motivated, it’s important to set your goals small and very clear at first. The feeling of successful progress will be fuel later on. In the meantime, your goals won’t be large enough to overwhelm you or bring you any anxiety. You can always build on them where you feel comfortable, but not absolutely having to give you room to breathe.
4. Evaluate Your Definition of Success
Here’s a hint: if your definition is a specific milestone, it’s not a solid foundation for your plans. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t become successful when Facebook was invented. He became successful by meeting his goal and seeing it’s future potential and continuing to build on his original goal. Success isn’t a single destination; it’s a journey with endless potential.
5. Go Easy on Yourself
Beating yourself up for your shortcomings only brings you closer to giving up. It’s easy to be understanding and forgiving with others; it’s harder to do with yourself. Know that you aren’t a robot. You are allowed to ask others for help. You’re allowed to find a shoulder to cry on from time to time. Learning to balance your emotions will help you feel more stable as you pursue your goals.
6. Make it Fun
When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have different feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it. Why do you think it happens? It’s simple. Some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do, usually with a little change of perspective. A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions. How can I enjoy this task? What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others? How can I make this work the best part of my day? The answers will come to you as long as you’re committed to the goal of getting the most positivity from the situation at hand.
7. Reward Yourself
This is everyone’s favorite tip, since rewarding yourself is always pleasant. I’m happy to confirm that this is one of the easiest, yet most powerful ways to stay motivated. Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will be goal markers for rewards. As soon as you achieve a goal, take the time to reward yourself. For some tasks, even a short break will suffice. For more demanding tasks, you may want to make your reward more enjoyable, like a trip. Don’t worry about whether your progress is reward-worthy in the eyes of others. Do it all for yourself. The more you reward yourself for progress honestly made, the more motivated you will feel as you reach new milestones.
After our talk, Sarah realized the changes she needs to make. Now, she feels empowered to pursue all the opportunities that present themselves to her. She’s become wildly accomplished in a short amount of time. Think of yourself and where you are. If you’re not in the place you want to be, that in itself should be plenty of motivation. Enjoy! Enjoy the process! Life is not a race, it’s a journey.