When you want to do all of the things and none of the things at the same time
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You have a million ideas in your head (or maybe just one big one- that’s okay too!) and want to get to work on whatever it is you’re thinking about, but you don’t have the motivation to do any of it. I like to keep a small list of things that help switch my lever from “eh” to “let’s do this!” I’ll also include a short list of things to try to avoid to keep your motivation once you have it.
9 Things to do
1. Start Small
It’s great to dream big; I highly encourage it, but sometimes the bigger we dream, the more unattainable our goals seem. Start with small goals and work your way up. Keep your big picture in mind, but break it down into smaller pieces. Find your flow and start making bigger goals with longer timeframes. Lots of times, the biggest hurdle is starting. If we make starting seem less daunting, we will be more likely to start.
2. Write about it
Writing not only helps us to be more creative, but it can help us focus too. You can write about something specific, or you can just free-write. Don’t make it daunting. Tell yourself you’re just going to write a sentence or two. From there, you can be done if you want, or you might feel like continuing. If you don’t have a journal, you can use one of our free printable journal pages from our free printable section.
3. Plan ahead
Use some kind of planner or just paper and pen and map out what you want to get done and when you want to get it done. Stay flexible with it. Nothing has to be set in stone, but seeing a loose timeline of your goals can help keep you on track and help you determine how much has to be done every day. Feel free to use this free printable goals planner page!
4. Take a walk
Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery to get our brains and bodies moving. The fresh air and sun encourage feel-good hormones that can improve our mood and motivation.
5. Listen to a podcast
Take some time to pick out a list of podcasts to have on hand for when you’re in the mood to get some motivation through your AirPods. There are hundreds of podcasts out there for motivation, and there might also be podcasts about what you’re specifically working on or need motivation for. Pairing this one up with #4 should get you double the motivation points, right?
6. Read a book
Just like the podcasts, try to have a list of books on hand that you’ve researched ahead of time, so when you’re in the mood to read something motivational, you aren’t stuck looking for one for 30 minutes. Again, if you’re looking for some motivation for nothing in particular, you might prefer a broad topic like motivation, or you might consider finding a book about the thing you’re looking to be motivated about.
7. Watch YouTube
Okay, this seems to be getting repetitive, but just like #5 and #6, have some picked out ahead of time for when the mood strikes or for when you need motivation but have none. Pick a few short 5-10 minute videos you can watch without them taking up your whole day.
8. Take care of your body
Our brains and bodies work so much better when they’re taken care of. Make your job a little easier by not having your body and mind work against you because you’re dehydrated, hungry, or tired (or all 3 at the same time). Eat well, get enough sleep, and drink your water.
9. Spend a few minutes in the future
Pretend you’re you, but five years from now, looking back at you on this day. Imagine yourself in two different scenarios: one where you gave up and one when you kept going. Remember, five years from now will come either way. Will your future self wish you’d kept going? My guess is YES.
9 Things to avoid
1. Mindlessly scrolling
If you’re trying to stay motivated, stay on social media as long as you can. Opening one of the apps oftentimes starts with the idea of just checking to see what’s going on for a few minutes, but it rarely ends that way. Social media is designed to keep users on the app for as long as possible, but precious time, energy, and motivation get sucked out of us before we even realize what’s happening. The easiest way to avoid this is to avoid social media altogether when we need to stay focused and motivated.
I know, easier said than done, but stress can scare away motivation in a second. Finding ways to minimize stress can be incredibly helpful for keeping motivation levels high. Make a running list of things that help you combat stress and keep it on hand if you feel stress winning the fight against your motivation. Try going for a walk, talking with a friend, journaling, and not taking on more than you can handle (again, easier said than done, I know).
3. Negative self-talk
You’re in control here. If you want to get or stay motivated, the last person you need working against you is you. Don’t tell yourself how hard this will be or that you can’t do it. Negative self-talk will build a dark cloud around your motivation like nothing else. If you feel self-doubt creeping in, take a few minutes to jot down some things you’re proud of yourself for and what you’re excited to accomplish.
4. Fear of the unknown
Sometimes fear of the unknown holds us back because it makes us do… nothing. We don’t do anything because we fear change or failure. If you find yourself doing nothing because of this fear, remember the whole looking into the future exercise you did above. Remember, the future will become the present whether you act or not. Don’t find yourself looking back, wishing you’d taken those first steps and never stopped.
5. Overworking yourself
Staying motivated is the goal here, not working ourselves sick. Finding a balance is key. Working hard and staying focused is great, but taking breaks helps avoid burnout, which usually loses us time and motivation in the long run.
6. Expecting too much
Make sure what you’re expecting of yourself is realistic. Expecting way more than you can handle will only set you up for disappointment and probably lead to negative self-talk (see #3). It’s okay to push yourself. Just don’t push yourself beyond your limits, or all your motivation – and probably your confidence – will show itself out the front door.
Get rid of any nonessential distractions. Turn off your social media notifications and the television. Tell your friends and family your plans so they can keep their distance if necessary while you need to stay motivated. Let them know you’ll check in with them when you can, but you need some time to stay focused.
Some will probably group this with the last one because clutter can definitely be a distraction. But having a nice clean space to work in can do wonders for our motivation. If you need the motivation to make yourself a nice meal, for example, starting with a clean kitchen makes the job so much easier.
9. Giving up
This one is probably obvious and maybe a little corny. But it’s important. Avoid giving up at all costs. You can always change course if you discover what you’re trying to do isn’t what you want to do anymore, or maybe it isn’t great for your mental health. Don’t give up altogether, though. Start over, change directions, regroup, take a break, but don’t give up. You’ll thank yourself late- at least, you should thank yourself later!
Staying motivated isn’t an end goal. It’s something you’ll have to work at and do over and over again. With practice, you’ll find what works for you. Keep it up and share below what works best for you. Maybe you’ll help someone else to get motivated.