More Motivation: How to Find Motivation When You Need It Most
Sometimes motivation is difficult to muster. When you find yourself dragging to finish things at work, knock out your to-do list, or even crawl out of bed, you may need to get creative to regain your motivation.
If your motivational levels are already low, how can you gather the energy or inspiration to raise them again? Is there a way to increase your motivation, so you have even more than usual?
It’s human nature to want to find the easiest or most straightforward way to do something–it’s why hitting the snooze button or watching another episode of your favorite TV show is easier than cleaning the house, for example. However, it is possible to increase your motivation (the science says so!).
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Think of your motivation as a muscle that you need to exercise to strengthen.
To begin increasing your motivational levels, it’s best to think about your motivation like you would the muscles in your body.
When you want to become stronger, you develop a workout routine that involves different exercises to achieve your desired results. However, if you run straight to the gym and try to lift the heaviest barbells, you’re going to struggle immediately because your muscles haven’t been conditioned to handle that heavy amount yet.
Think of your motivation the same way. If the prospect of magically gaining tons of motivation seems as farfetched as lifting that massive barbell on your first try, it’s because it is. Rather than pressuring yourself to be instantly super-motivated (spoiler: it will not work), permit yourself to test new motivational techniques on yourself in small steps.
Over time, these small steps will lead toward an overall sustainable increase in motivation. According to Forbes, when you approach building motivation the same way as exercising and strengthening muscles, you’ll see results that last. Much like the way many trips to the gym will lead to muscle increase, many small attempts at building motivation will lead to motivation increase!
What Causes Motivational Levels to Dip
Occasional dips in motivation are normal and natural. If everyone were “on” 24/7, their motivation would disappear extremely quickly! It’s normal to have good days, okay days, and bad days concerning your motivation.
However, there are some specific causes for motivational levels remaining low or in some cases, disappearing completely. For example, a lack of motivation can be caused by:
- Past Trauma: If you’re burdened by trauma (especially trauma that hasn’t been explored or discussed with a mental health professional), your motivational levels can feel nonexistent. Trauma responses cause people to lose focus, energy, and desire – a combination that dampens motivation.
- Stress and Anxiety: A common response to feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety is to shut down completely. Rather than tackling your to-do list or devising a system to handle what’s causing you anxiety, you may experience feelings of total disconnection or disinterest. As a method to handle your anxious feelings, your motivation disappears, and you don’t accomplish anything.
- Lack of Sleep: When your body isn’t getting the rest it needs to function properly, your motivation feels completely drained. Your body requires consistent quality sleep to repair itself and prepare for the next day – if you aren’t giving your body that opportunity to heal and relax, you’re putting yourself in a situation where you’ll lose motivation quickly.
- Insecurities: If you’re suffering from insecurities, your motivation can disappear. For example, if you feel insecure about your appearance, you may lose motivation to dress nicely or do something to make yourself feel better about how you look. Often, insecurities plant negative thoughts in a person’s mind, such as “Why bother,” leading their motivation to plummet.
- A Negative Environment: If you spend too much time with toxic people or in some negative, unpleasant environment, those “bad vibes” begin to rub off on you! Unfortunately, spending too much time in negative spaces can zap your store of motivation. When everything around you feels bleak or miserable, it’s tough to find any motivation to do anything.
- Feeling Lost: Many people lose motivation when they feel like they don’t have any direction in life. This fact makes a lot of sense – if you don’t have a road map to guide you on your journey, it isn’t easy to know where you’re going or how to get there. When you’re feeling lost in life about what you want to do or what your purpose is, your motivation can feel zapped since it isn’t being directed in any specific direction.
- Lack of Control Over Yourself: When you lose control over yourself, your motivation plummets. For example, if you aren’t taking time to exercise, eat nutritious foods, set your boundaries, keep your schedule organized, attend medical check-ups, and do other activities needed to keep yourself balanced, you can feel like you’re losing control over yourself.
Often, when people feel like they can’t keep their personal business organized, they lose motivation to try doing anything else outside of themselves.
How Can You Strengthen Your “Motivation Muscles”?
There are a variety of methods you can use to begin strengthening and increasing your motivation. Like an actual workout or fitness regimen, the way you choose to strengthen your motivation is unique to your preferences and needs. It may take some time to determine which strategies work best for you. To get started, consider the following options:
1. Implement more routines throughout your day.
It’s tough to feel motivated if you also feel overwhelmed. If your days feel unstructured and chaotic, try implementing some routines throughout your day to make things a little more predictable. When you get accustomed to some basic daily routines, you’ll feel less scattered and have more energy to channel into motivation.
2. Identify your role models and observe their habits.
A great way to inspire more motivation within yourself is to learn more about how your role models get work done. Take note of how people you admire like to work. What motivates them? How do they push through tough times when they don’t feel inspired to keep going? Picking up tips and tricks from people you admire is a great way to boost your motivation.
3. Create and use a personal mantra.
A mantra, or a short statement used to reinforce a belief in yourself, is an excellent way to stoke the fires of motivation. Mantras can be unique to your specific needs or situation; you can also borrow one to use as inspiration.
Make it a habit to repeat your chosen mantra to yourself regularly–the more frequently you repeat it, the more you’re going to believe it! If you need some ideas to borrow for mantras, consider the following:
- I can handle this situation.
- I am strong enough to get the job done.
- I’m capable of anything if I set my mind to it.
- I’ve done this before, and I can do it again.
- This will get me closer to my goal.
4. Make yourself more accountable by sharing your goals publicly.
Motivation is easy to lose when you’re trying to accomplish something by yourself. If your motivation is feeling low, raise it by sharing your goals publicly.
While social media can cause many problems, this is an area where it can come in handy–share your goals and progress toward them on a social media platform. If you aren’t comfortable with social media, keep your friends and family in the loop about your aspirations.
When you share your progress and growth with others, accountability will raise your motivational levels and keep you going. It’s easy to slack off when you’re trying to do something alone, but when you share your aspirations with others, you immediately feel more pressure to stay motivated.
5. Break up big tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
If a task you need to complete feels too big, it’s easy to lose motivation to get started instantly. If the amount of work that needs to get done drains your motivation, restore it by breaking up these bigger tasks into smaller ones.
Rather than approaching any task with an “all or nothing” mindset, permit yourself to handle it in small parts. For example, if cleaning your whole home feels too overwhelming, try handling the cleaning one task at a time.
After you sweep the floors, allow yourself a short break. Next, unload the dishwasher and take another small break afterward. The house is still getting cleaned, and your motivation is more likely to remain intact.
6. Trade out your negativity for more positivity.
When you approach life with a “glass half empty” attitude, motivation can plummet. If you don’t see anything good or worthwhile about your life, it can be challenging to find the motivation to do anything. If everything feels so negative, you may think there’s no point trying to do anything anyway.
Learning to trade a negative attitude for a more positive one is key to building motivation. Learn to stop negative thoughts in their tracks and replace them with more positive (and more factual) positive self-talk. For example, consider this example of trading negativity for positivity:
Original negative thought: I probably won’t be good at that, so I’m not going to try.
Replacement positive thought: I don’t know if I’m not good at that unless I try. I can always practice and get better.
7. Create some visual representations of your dreams and goals.
Feeling motivated to accomplish something is difficult when you have a difficult time determining what you truly want. Consider making some visual representations of your goals to make them feel more concrete and easier to visualize.
To do this, you can keep a written list of your dreams. You can also create vision or mood boards, which are collections of images that represent what you want to accomplish. With these visual reminders, it’s easier to picture what you want for yourself, which helps increase your motivation.
The Bottom Line
Finding motivation and increasing your motivational levels when you need it most requires time and patience. For best results, approach motivation-boosting exercises and methods using baby steps.
As you incorporate small moments of motivation-boosting habits throughout your day, your motivational levels will increase.
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Anthony Langmartey is a dedicated life coach and internet entrepreneur. From an early age, he showed empathy and a keen interest in understanding people's emotions. Anthony pursued knowledge and skills in psychology and personal development, which fueled his passion for positively impacting lives. Now, as a life coach and entrepreneur, he empowers people to transform their lives, achieve their goals, and find lasting happiness.