How to Fight a Lack of Motivation

what to do about discouragement

So much of what we talk about in Impactivity revolves around finding the clarity, freedom, and time to pursue a Dream.

But what happens when you’ve carved out a block of time, you know you should be working on this Dream, but you simply don’t feel like it?

You know what we’re talking about -- that bleh feeling we all get hit with at times, when the motivation simply isn’t there.

### The dilemma

Should we force ourselves to push through, even if we’re not feeling it?

Or should we cut ourselves some slack, stop pushing so hard, take some time to recharge?

Because the truth is, sometimes we simply don’t feel like Igniting.

This feeling can be scary, especially for driven people who are usually on the go. We start wondering if something’s gone horribly wrong. Will we ever get the motivation back? What happens if we keep laying around the house forever…!

Faced with that fear, some of us are hard on ourselves, pushing through when perhaps we should be resting, or taking downtime and then feeling guilty over it.

When these times of apathy strike, how do we know when to push forward and when to step back?

the key to kicking apathy

The key to knowing what to do in these situations is understanding where the lack of motivation is coming from.

Decide first if the apathy is related to something internal, or external circumstances.

Internal stressors, like physical illness, emotionally draining situations, days of being super-busy, or having lots of unusual demands on you can zap your energy for the Dream. The lack of motivation can be linked to one or more reasons your physical or emotional energy has been drained.

Or maybe it’s an external factor, like being confused about what to do next, overwhelmed by the complexity or size of the project before you, or fearful about taking the next step. Perhaps a lack of results, feedback, or progress has you discouraged, questioning your purpose. All of these factors can beat down any motivation you have to move forward.

When the “free” time comes to work on your Dream, you're either already drained of energy for some reason that likely began earlier in the day, or the week, or you're feeling daunted by what’s next.

If you can put your finger on a reason, you’re one step closer to a solution.

And what is the solution? It depends on the cause!

Interestingly, the answers are directly opposite to each other.

two different answers

If internal energy drain (for whatever reason) has crushed your motivation, you need to do whatever it takes to regain that energy. What would it take? Some sleep? Some fun? Some inspiration? What will give life and energy to your soul and your body? It’s time to pull back, because you need to recharge!

But if external fears or issues with the work itself has you feeling apathetic, you need to do whatever it takes to push past those issues. What would it take? Some time spent connecting again with your WHY - the reason you have this Dream and your passion for the people you want to serve? A bit of time spent on chunking down an overwhelming project into bite-sized tasks? Finding a way to make the uninspiring parts of your work more enjoyable?

or maybe it

’s both

It’s not unusual for both internal and external factors to be involved in our lack of motivation. In fact, it’s very common, because as purposeful people, we often are able to keep going when only one or the other hits us. But when you are already feeling a bit physically drained, and you add a bit of fear or confusion about the next step in your Dream, the combination is really tough to overcome. When the work is hard and the body or soul is tired, it’s nearly impossible.

So once you’ve got your diagnosis, it may take a combination of treatments! A little rest and energy-recharge time, perhaps while you think through what’s feeling hard about the work and how you can get past it.

bonus tip

Always be thinking about your work in terms of the energy needed to perform it. Be able to quickly divide tasks into high energy and low energy. Some tasks require deep focus and creativity, while others are more shallow and simple.

Then when you’re hit with times of low energy, rather than throwing your hands up and giving up completely on making any progress that day (Netflix, here I come), pick one of your low-energy tasks. In other words, pair your low-energy times with your low-energy work. Rather than avoiding work altogether, find something that takes the least amount of energy. (You may even find that getting this one task done gives you a little energy boost, just enough to get the next small task done…)

And conversely, when you’re feeling more energetic, don’t waste those times on tasks that can be done when your energy’s low. Use that energy for the deep, creative work that is hardest for you.

sometimes you just gotta crash

Certainly there are days when we need to let ourselves off the hook, crash for a while, and put the work on hold. Perhaps look backward and see where you went wrong, where you might have better preserved your energy or where you legitimately had too much going on. But there may be no way around it.

So in those times, give yourself time off, but then also give yourself a “time on.” Tell yourself when you’re going to be back in the game after your time of rest. Don’t let it go on for an indefinite amount of time, because inertia will always kick in and make you feel like staying in the slow lane.

your dream deserves energy

Understand that your Dream (and everything in your life) deserves your best, so be on guard against things that drain you, and give yourself the time you need to regain your energy.

But also recognize that good rest and recharging are very efficient, and it shouldn’t take you much time, even when you’re feeling like you'll never want to do another thing, to get back to motivation.

None of this is complicated. But our problem is that we simply don’t think. We just feel (apathy, lack of motivation) and then we act (avoid, crash, numb), and then we feel some more (guilt, discouragement, sense of failure).

A little self-awareness can get us back on track with energy and motivation, and short-circuit all of that guilt and discouragement!

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