Have you ever had a time where you just wake up and you don’t want to do what you’re supposed to do for the day? Beyond just one day, have you ever experienced a period of time where it feels like motivation left the building and you’re left wondering how the heck you’re going to get anything done? It’s easy to blame yourself or claim the title of “unmotivated” for yourself when that’s simply not helpful nor is it the case.
But just because you’re in a funk, doesn’t mean you are going to or that you need to stay there. While it’s important to experience highs and lows and feel all the feelings that come along, it’s also important to look at opportunities that can enhance small pieces of our lives so that we don’t stay stuck.
So if you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated, let’s walk through a few solutions that might help you troubleshoot and get back on track — at least for a little while! My hope is that these 5 actions will be things you can return to anytime you’re feeling stressed, uninspired, overwhelmed, burnt out, overtired, or unmotivated in general.
1. Get quiet with yourself.
When my general mood responds with a big fat “NOPE” for the majority of my responsibilities, I know it’s usually a sign that something deeper is happening. We don’t just randomly become burnt out or uninspired — it’s this path that usually involves taking on too much, having boatloads of pressure placed on us, being out of alignment or feeling tied to too many obligations.
The BIGGEST thing I can recommend is, don’t keep ignoring or numbing the problem and assume it will resolve without getting to the root. There’s likely a reason for why you’re feeling this way. An article from Business Insider that shares research behind what actually impacts our motivation says that, “You can’t be pressured into taking initiative; performance is highest when people take it themselves.”
So take a quick stock of the stressors and pressures in your life. Do you have a zillion deadlines that you simply can’t keep up with? Do you feel like people are counting on you to do too much? Did you agree to something you wish you wouldn’t have? What do you actually need to be managing and controlling that’s currently on your plate? Is there anything you can hand off or get rid of?
Take inventory and do your best to remove the unnecessary from your plate, if you can. Seek out ways to protect your time, and create margin within your days. Set standards and boundaries that don’t allow others to pressure you to take initiative, but that allow you to get to the heart of your why which will motivate you far more than any other human could.
2. Don’t be afraid to play.
This past year and a half, I’ve spent more time playing than I think I EVER have before in my adult life. And the funniest thing has happened as we’ve spent so much time these past many months biking, hiking, hunting for bugs, going on family walks, putting together puzzles, scribbling in coloring books and playing old-school card games…
My work-life, creativity, and motivation in general have seemed to soar during this time. Of course like anyone else, I have my off moments and funky days, but overall, I’ve noticed my approach to even my more serious responsibilities has this lighter, more easygoing, more natural and relaxed feel to it, and I absolutely credit a lot of that to this time we’ve spent simply playing. It’s like I found this new identity of myself, one that appreciates playing for the sake of playing.
Trust me, you deserve to be able to let go, be carefree, and play. Brene Brown says, “The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.” She’s found in her research that play is actually vital for human development, and so incorporating ways to play is not only a benefit to our motivation — it’s imperative for living a full, healthy life.
If you have kids, get on the floor with them and watch them play, get inspired with how they create their own fun and if you don’t have kids, think about yourself as a child. What would your child aged self be disappointed to know you no longer do? What would they be sad to find out you’ve let go of? Maybe that’s where you should start!
3. Do some light research.
Okay, so don’t hate me for jumping from play to research, and if it helps, we can call it “seeking inspiration” rather than research. But sometimes when I’m feeling unmotivated, it’s really a problem with feeling creatively fatigued and uninspired.
It may sound counterintuitive to focus on someone else’s work, but it actually helps to see how others are showing up and pursuing their dreams and goals as a way to give ourselves a boost. I’ll often jump on Instagram or Pinterest to scan accounts that I admire and save posts that I love, or I’ll turn on an audiobook or an uplifting podcast that helps reshape my perspective and feel more in tune with my vision, desires, and priorities.
Do some intentional inspiration scrolling but keep in mind, this practice only works if you consume the content that lifts you up and inspires you to take action toward showing up as the best version of you. Use it as inspiration not for imitation, but when you see what others might be looking for or find content that inspires you, it might spur you back into creation.
4. Change up your routine.
I recently was talking to my neighbors and I said, “Sometimes routines can turn into ruts” and I meant it. Sometimes we get on the hamster wheel of showing up or creating that it feels impossible to get off but something that once gave us clarity and structure may have become something that makes us feel stuck or trapped.
Sometimes a simple shake up in your norm is all it takes for a refreshed outlook and recalibrated approach to what needs to get done. Routines can help us know what to expect and how the day will play out, but sometimes they can get us in a rut if things become too predictable and practiced.
Whether it’s shifting your priorities to match your energy, changing your environment, or switching up your creative process, take a look at which routines fuel you and what drains you! Pay attention to what’s working and also pay attention to if those things shift! Like I said, just because you start a new routine doesn’t mean it has to be your forever normal.
Give yourself the space and time to notice your flow states, notice what lights you up, and also pay attention to what distracts you or pulls you off course — hello, I think most of us can admit that might be our phones and devices so maybe just moving those out of our spaces could be a little boost of motivation we need.
5. Connect with others.
This journey of entrepreneurship can be isolating, and when you’re trucking along solo, day in and day out, it can be easy to lose steam and lose sight of where you’re going or the impact you’re making. Even if you have a team, whether they’re remote or not, YOU are the only one who experiences the height of pressure and responsibility to carry all the responsibilities of your business from scaling to serving to simply showing up.
But there’s something beautiful when we intentionally try to connect with others, to find others to lean on and when we challenge ourselves to share how we’re doing or where we’re getting stuck. Even though it might feel like it at times, you don’t have to go it alone, so get in touch with someone or even ask a loved one to remind you what you’re an expert in, how you make a difference, or how they would describe you to get that feedback that might spur on your motivation to keep going.
Maybe joining a mastermind would get you a community of like minded people to lean on and troubleshoot or commiserate with, or even just joining free Facebook groups for business owners or people within your field could be hugely beneficial. If you didn’t know, we have a massive community of Goal Digger listeners waiting for you inside our Goal Digger Facebook group! The point is, it’s up to you to seek out ways to create a sounding board and community, even if it’s small, that helps keep you grounded, because it’s an enormous motivator to feel understood.
Find a place to start
Sometimes when I know my workload isn’t overly crazy or my boundaries aren’t out of whack and I’m just feeling plain unmotivated for what seems like no reason at all, it’s often just because I’m distracted, pursuing the wrong things, or unfocused. Sometimes we set the grandest, loftiest dreams in front of us but refuse to make any sort of progress because it all feels so intimidating, so big.
In those times, it helps to simply start something, anything, that will allow me to gain momentum. Sometimes we need to prove to ourselves that we are capable of making progress or moving ahead and that can be the momentum that turns into motivation.
Before I know it, just the act of STARTING physically helps my brain to catch up, and once I’m going, I get into it and I’m invested. Momentum can lead to motivation, so where can you simply start? Sometimes that’s really all it takes to boot a lack of motivation, and as hard as it feels to start, that’s often *the* hardest part, and it’s downhill from there.
I hope you feel a little fire lit under you today, to take the power of your own motivation back and allow yourself to create the environment, schedule, boundaries, and relationships that keep you feeling energized and motivated to keep going!