“I’m so unmotivated”
How’s your new year’s resolution going?
There’s a lot of talk about starting new things and getting motivated, keeping old commitments going, managing your mental health, and balancing the work with avoiding burnout.
Let’s first distinguish being unmotivated from being mentally exhausted.
If you’re TIRED, don’t accumulate exhaustion and enter a downward spiral. Stop at a reasonable point. Take an early day off. Reset your mind. Go the f🌕k to sleep.
It’s normal if you just can’t or don’t want to do the task right now. But this feeling will pass if you break eye contact with that task for a while. Your energy is at least as important as time.
If you have the energy but still aren’t feeling motivated, that’s a separate issue. Being able to self-motivate is key. Otherwise, you might wait for a long time for things that make you say “I needed this today!” and do nothing about it.
Here are some strategies to fix the “unmotivated” issue:
1) Create momentum.
I find that motivation isn’t something to wait for because you could be waiting for a long time.
Solution: Instead, if I just do the first step and stick to it for just a couple minutes, I gain MOMENTUM to continue, no longer needing the “motivation.”
“So basically ‘just do it’? Isn’t the problem that I can’t do it in the first place?”
Maybe you haven’t warmed up. It’s much easier to “just do” one micro-step than get overwhelmed by the whole task. Sometimes the first step is as simple as getting out of your chair so you can do that first jumping jack.
The more you move, the easier it is to keep moving. Maintain the momentum. Studies show that we get more motivated when we see progress.
The opposite is also true: An object at rest stays at rest.
Read one page. Write one sentence. Do one pushup. Preheat the oven so you can make chicken instead of getting takeout. Do that one practice problem for your exam. Leave your task undone on your desk overnight as a cliffhanger so you can “close the loop” the next morning.
There are many ways to coax yourself into DOING it.
2) Have an emotionally compelling reason.
Motivation literally means a reason to act.
That reason is a push from behind. You may not want to do whatever you should be doing in this immediate moment, but at least you have a bigger vision. Your motivation is personal.
If you DON’T have a reason… why are you even doing it? Why are you wondering where to get motivation when you yourself don’t have a reason? No wonder you feel like you’re in a void.
It’s like saying “I don’t have a reason to do this. What do I do?”
I don’t understand. You’re asking for someone else to give you a reason to do this. It’s nonsensical to ask for motivation when you have no reason.
Solution: Remind yourself of your reason to do it. Or figure out your reason.
If you can’t do that, you aren’t entitled to complain about being unmotivated. Do it without motivation, or just don’t do it.
3) Develop patience.
Snipers can stay awake for 72 hours at a time.
It’s the long game. You’re a sniper in training, getting into position and waiting for the right opportunities.
So when there’s a setback, we get impatient. We feel they’re going to miss our one chance!
Our desire to get one good result after another causes us to start looking for shortcuts. We lose passion and lose sight of our motive. We become impatient.
Solution: Play the long game. Don’t try to be ready before you’re ready. You may feel set back by one bad result (or even many bad results), but each defeat is fodder for your next victory. Look at the horizon ahead, not the rough waters you’re on now.
Be patient. Things tend to converge to certainty over time.
The point isn’t to win while training. It’s to win while in the ring. Remember what I said about warming up and creating momentum? Performing isn’t the point of warmup either. Use the first few attempts to get in the mode. Go slow to go fast.
4) Procrastination isn’t entirely a problem with motivation. You also need to get clear on what to do.
You may have a clarity problem, not a motivation problem.
If you’re juggling a bunch of tasks in your head, you don’t know which one to tackle, so you don’t do anything.
Solution: Get clear on your tasks. Organize your tasks so you’re not overwhelmed and lost
This is just one example: Plan ahead by writing down everything you need to do + prioritizing what you need to do each week or day.
At work, I do this on a Word document with statuses and notes for all my cases + a handwritten post-it note for the week that I can cross off or annotate as I go.
Make it simple. Complicated apps and systems can reduce clarity.
I hate this one because it works so well. Sometimes we need good-old peer pressure because we’re not gonna listen to ourselves!
Solution: To create accountability, set stakes. Typically this is social or financial.
For example, your friend will post an embarrassing picture of you, or you have to pay your friend $50, for each week you don’t work out. Better yet, make it escrow so you don’t back out. Post this commitment publicly so you have some social pressure.
(Nothing more embarrassing than being seen as someone who doesn’t follow through, like the client who ghosted me when payment was due after stretching out his payment plan for OVER A YEAR after getting the result he wanted, reassuring me about how it was 100 PERCENT going to be done, telling me not to WORRY since he was getting a large windfall, and saying how he was a man of INTEGRITY, how he used to be in debt collection and KNOWS how it FEELS to be on the other side, how this was ALWAYS on his mind, how he wanted to stay FRIENDS, and —
Whew, I’m ok… I’m sure he got in a meteor accident or something. But seriously, I’d be so embarrassed to be that kind of person.)
To cure being unmotivated…
First, make sure you’re not just tired, or doing too many draining activities like busy work or always getting ready to do it but not doing it. Thinking about doing it is more exhausting than actually doing it.
Then try looking for a combination of these things to get you to do what needs to be done:
- Emotionally compelling reason
I’ve given you 5 proven ways to get you going when you don’t feel motivated. I’d love to know which of these strategies you’ll try out to boost your motivation!