How to feel motivated and get back on track is something we all need. And it isn’t always easy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how well life is going for you…at some point, you won’t feel motivated. When you feel like you can’t get motivated, you’re more likely to feel depressed. When you get depressed, you wonder how to feel motivated. It becomes a catch-22.
Here are 5 ways you can try to feel more motivated. Oh, and by the way, these aren’t written in any particular order.
The 5-Minute Rule
I don’t know where I learned this rule, but it helps me feel more motivated. It’s my own personal rule and I use it a lot. I only have to do whatever it is for 5 minutes and then if I want to, I can stop. It doesn’t matter if it is work-related (I’m a self-employed copywriter), working out, cleaning the house, or whatever. For me, if I can just get started, I am usually fine. I set an alarm for 5 minutes. Once I hit that mark, I’m usually fine to keep going. It’s very rare that I’m not. Having C-PTSD, there are a few days that are really rough and maybe I do need a break, but it doesn’t happen often. Getting started is usually the hardest part for me. I can’t recall where I picked this technique up, but I’ve been doing this for years.
Mel Robbins’ 5-4-3-2-1 Trick
I tend to freeze up even when I start out my day with all the motivation in the world. When I freeze up, obviously the motivation goes away. This trick is a countdown that helps propel me (and you) to action. The goal is to not think and to just act. You countdown from five to one and then you just do…even if you don’t want to do it. To put it bluntly, Mel Robbins often says that motivation is bullshit and we should just act instead. Our brains and moods often follow our actions. (Science also backs this. It isn’t that we behave our way away from C-PTSD, depression, or anxiety per se. It is more that we change certain pathways in our brain during that specific time. We can change certain behaviors and thoughts. It does not mean that if you take meds that you should ditch them. You should never just stop taking your meds!)
Rewards Are Your Friend
Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a reward for getting through something tough. And what you decide is worth a reward is up to you. What’s tough to me may not be tough to you and vice versa. Rewards don’t have to be big. They only need to be something for you to look forward to doing or having. A few years ago, I worked with a multi-millionaire business consultant who was putting together an online course (this was back before online courses were all the rage). He would put together his daily “battle plan” that included everything he needed to do each day. If he completed everything on his list, he rewarded himself with a visit to a specific coffee shop (not Starbucks; it was some little locally owned place) where he indulged in a fancy drink while he sat there with his phone on silent. He didn’t think about business, clients, or anything else.
A few years before meeting that client, I read an interesting article written by Buffer. It was about productivity. I tried to look for the article, but I couldn’t find it. It discussed working with your body’s natural attention span to help feel more motivated naturally. I found that mine fell into a pattern of working for 90 minutes and taking a break for 25 minutes. So, during that 25 minute break time, I would do whatever I wanted without giving myself a hard time. Of course, I also have OCD so I tend to obsess about my work. Over time, that particular practice became more difficult (the not-giving-myself-a-hard-time).
Visualize the End
I am a sucker for endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and all the good feeling mindfuck chemicals (and store-bought are fine if you can’t make your own). One of the most powerful motivational tools I use is visualization. I find that when I really get into the moment in my own head and really feel what it will be like to be in the moment and even finished with the thing, it can really motivate me to get it done. It doesn’t matter for me if it is getting some exercise (I never want to do it…but I do love how I feel when I am done), cleaning (I do love the smell of a clean house), or getting work projects knocked out (you’d think after being self-employed for seven years that work projects wouldn’t cause this much anxiety, but here we are).
Do It for Spite
I am one of those people that hate being told by anyone or anything what I am not going to do or sometimes what I’m going to do. I mean, I don’t mind following the rules that are put in place for a reason. I behaved myself in school. However, being someone who was told by my bio parents and an ex-husband that I was worthless and couldn’t do anything right…well, I’m not here for all of that. And you shouldn’t be here for any of that noise either. Because we both know it’s a lie. We can do whatever we want to do…even when it’s hard. Sometimes, we just have to take a deep breath and do the hard things for spite…because it needs to be done.
Related: How to Be Enough in the Moment
How to Feel Motivated: Motivation Is Just a Feeling
Motivation is just a feeling. We can’t always live our lives ruled by how we feel. It would be fucking amazing to feel motivated all the damn time. No one is happy all the time. No one is excited all the time. No one is ecstatic all the time. No one is angry all the time (I mean, it sure seems like some people might be, though). No one is any one singular emotion all the time. The same is true for motivation.
We just don’t live our lives relying on one feeling all the time. We do things in spite of. And sometimes that includes lack of motivation. That doesn’t mean that we necessarily stop looking for ways to feel more motivated. I look for ways all the time to feel more motivated. I like to feel motivated. I want to get things done and feel good about it. I want to look forward to it. But…at the end of the day, things still have to get done whether I feel like doing them or not because that’s part of life.
Do you have a specific way that helps you feel more motivated? What is it?