Strategies for Motivation When in a Rut
Motivation naturally shifts up and down throughout life. Sometimes we feel like we can conquer the world. Other times, it feels that just getting out of bed is the biggest accomplishment.
These shifts are normal, but sometimes motivation gets “stuck” at a lower level than we would like for longer than we would like. It’s that feeling of being in a rut… and sometimes it feels like you’ll never get out of the rut.
But do not fear! Here are some solid strategies for motivation that can help get you “unstuck” and feeling motivated again. Give them a try!
Strategies for Motivation When in a Rut
Remind Yourself of the End Goal
Whatever it is your trying to get motivated for, there is usually some end goal or milestone you’re trying to reach. Envisioning that goal and what life looks like once reaching it is one of your strongest sources of motivation. It is like the fuel that keeps the fire burning inside to keep pursuing your goal and not giving up. If you lose sight of the goal, it’s quite easy for the fire to go out and for you to just want to give up.
The truth of that matter is that most good things in life doing are NOT EASY to obtain. The road to achieving the end goal may be filled with obstacles, doubts, and low motivation. That’s why it’s important to revisit your reason “why” you’re pursuing the thing you want to get motivated for and always remember that your efforts will be worth it in the end. Adopting an optimistic perspective will also help!
Try Motivational Tools and Techniques
There are dozens of motivational tools and techniques out there that can be used to help increase motivation. Here are some various tools and techniques to give a try.
Caffeine, used in moderation, can be a great way to get yourself motivated. Not so much energy drinks (especially because most are also loaded with sugar which will cause a crash later), but more natural sources of caffeine like coffee, teas, and dark chocolate are all great choices. They can be especially useful for getting yourself through that difficult part of getting started.
The power of smell is a strong one and this sense has been linked to brain activity in many ways. Certain scents can lead to increased motivation, and that is where aromatherapy comes in. Choose your essential oils carefully and then use them safely by either diffusing or applying to the skin with a carrier oil blend. Check out this aromatherapy article for some ideal oils for motivation and energy.
Just like our sense of smell can impact our energy and motivation, so can our sense of hearing. Upbeat music can help pump someone up and increase energy levels. Instrumental music or ambience can help with focus and creativity. Other music might help with finding sources of inspiration. There are tons of playlists on Youtube for exactly this type of purpose, just type “motivational music” into a Youtube search and you’ll find a bunch. I’ve also been a big fan of Brain.fm for focus-oriented music.
Believe it or not, lighting levels can actually play a role in motivating us. This is one that may require a bit more trial and error to see what works, but it’s worth experimenting with. Generally brighter lights are more conducive for motivation, but not always. If bright lights don’t work, try dimmer lights, or maybe even very minimal lighting. Colored lighting can also be an option to explore.
Reading Inspirational Stories
Whether it’s a short quote or a full-fledged story, a lot of motivation can come from reading inspiration and motivating content. If you’re pursuing a certain goal, there are likely to be books, videos, or other quotes focused around that goal. Check them out to see if they help motivate you.
Meditation / Breathing Techniques
Meditation and various breathing techniques can also provide a source of motivation. Something as simple as intentional and focused deep breathing can increase focus and motivation. Meditation can also really allow you to center and balance yourself, allowing you to tap into a source of motivation.
Approach Things in a Different Way
Sometimes motivation can be found by approaching things in a different way. These changes can be simple as a different time of day, a new place, or just utilizing different resources or tools you would have never really used before. If you typically find yourself seeking motivation for an activity in the evening, perhaps try shifting that activity to the morning or another part of the day.
You may also find motivation from changing your environment for the activity you need motivation for. If you normally do the activity at home, it may help to get out of the house. This is often why many people go to libraries, coffee shops, or gyms (to name a few places) to pursue things because doing the activity at home may not be best. If you have been getting out and that’s not working, try staying home instead to do the activity!
Lastly, embracing an open-mindedness to utilize new tools or resources you might not have ever used before can be a great help. If you’ve tried the avenues you think would work and they haven’t, what do you really have to lose by taking a chance to try something different? It might just be the exact right thing to use for boosting your motivation.
Connect With Your Peers for Support
Motivation can often be found from fostering social connections with others, especially if you find people in the same (or similar) situation as you. Your peers can be one of the best sources of motivation by lifting you up when you are down and serving as a reminder you are not alone. This is especially helpful considering there are few things worse for motivation than the feeling of isolation. It’s always reassuring and motivating to know you have some good peeps by your side.
And finding people to connect with is easier than ever thanks to the power of the internet and technology. There are communities, meetup groups, and other resources other there for people with similar goals, interests, and pursuits to find one another. A good starting point could be as easy as going to Google and typing in the thing you’re pursuing and seeing what comes up. Make sure to look for local groups, too! Finding and becoming part of these groups can help provide a constant source of motivation. Lastly, don’t forget about your friends and family as they can also be great supporters and motivators.
Talk About It
It’s amazing how talking about things can really help motivation. In fact, “talk therapy”, the idea of talking about things to clarify them or put things in perspective, is one of the most consistently effective therapy methods used by professional counselors and therapists. By opening up and discussing the way you’re feeling or the thoughts you’re having, you often find pathways to solutions and better outcomes.
Even if a discussion doesn’t lead to any groundbreaking discoveries, just being able to share your challenges, struggles, or thoughts to get them “off your chest” can really do wonders. It can feel like a gigantic weight has been lifted off your back and you’ll often feel rejuvenated and motivated to pursue your goals again. If you have people who are willing to listen, don’t be hesitant to talk with them!
Mental Health Counseling or Therapy
Depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns are NO JOKE. There is also absolutely no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed to seek treatment or therapy for mental health conditions. There is an unfortunate stigma towards mental health concerns in America, but forget all of that. Your health and well-being are what is most important. After all, if your body was not working properly, you would go to the doctor. If your brain isn’t working properly, you should seek treatment just the same.
At the end of the day, mental health conditions can have serious adverse effects on motivation. In most cases, it will prevent motivation from ever occurring. That’s why I feel it is very important to seek mental health counseling or therapy with a trained professional if you are struggling. Taking that step to seek treatment can lead to such a happier life with a much better quality of life. A trained professional will know the best ways to help you and the results can be significant.
Even if not struggling with mental health, having a “life coach” can also help. These individuals are trained to help you throughout all of life’s challenges, and they can certainly play a part in helping you find motivation for what you want to do.
Take a Break
We live in a pretty fast-paced world and it’s easy to feel the need to always GO GO GO. However, the truth is that we ARE NOT robots and we all burn out after a point. Burning out is a big problem for motivation and it’s a bit too easy to find yourself in this spot. Once burned out, finding motivation for anything is almost an impossible task. It’s your body’s natural way of telling you to TAKE A BREAK!
And taking a break is exactly what needs to be done sometimes. The body and mind need rest. They cannot function well otherwise. It’s like trying to drive a car without oil. You might get somewhere because there is gas in the car, but the lack of oil will eventually cause the engine to stall and the car to stop. Even worse, the lack of oil often causes the engine and other internal parts of the car to be badly damaged! Rest and sleep for our body and mind is like the oil in the car. It’s critical and we can’t go without it.
I personally am a big believer in the idea of “purposeful rest”. It means planning time to be restful or relaxed in order to keep energized for all we want to do in life. It also helps to recharge your mind and body when things get stressful or overwhelming. It’s a proactive approach to not getting burnt out in the first place. If you do find yourself feeling a bit burnt out though, always remember, take a break!
Do Something Else for a Bit
If taking a full-on break doesn’t feel like the right solution to you, I would at least recommend doing something else with your time and energy for a bit. This is an alternate way to recharge your body and mind so you can have better motivation for the things you want to do.
It doesn’t necessarily even matter what you do as long as you do something else. Maybe it’s something fun. Enjoying one of your hobbies, hanging out with friends, or taking a trip somewhere you like to go. It can also be something more serious. Starting a new project, pursuing a new goal, or tackling some chores and errands that have been on the back burner too long.
Whatever you choose, you’ll notice that doing something different tends to rejuvenate the mind and body. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and I definitely believe this to be true. The more we do one single thing day in and day out, the lower our motivation typically gets over time. In some cases, people may even put up mental blocks against doing it after a certain point. Doing something different, however, helps remove this mental block, and refocuses and remotivates us for the things we want to do.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Having a “growth mindset” is generally defined as having the perspective and belief that you are the master of your own destiny. People with growth mindsets believe in the value of hard work, determination, and resilience. They see challenges as opportunities to grow and failures as learning experiences. They empower themselves by knowing that their efforts can lead to the changes they want to achieve.
This is opposed to the “fixed mindset” that is generally defined as the perspective and belief that a person’s ability and skills are constrained by static factors set from birth. A person with a fixed mindset often believes that people are either good at something or they are not. They are quick to give up when encountering difficulties or challenges. They recognize they have strengths, but they fail to see their potential.
Based on these descriptions alone, it can be easy to see why adopting (or embracing) a growth mindset can lead to better motivation. The person with the growth mindset simply knows that deep down, they are capable of doing the things they want to do. Just that belief alone opens the door for better motivation in the long run. You can check out some strategies for achieving a growth mindset with this article.
Celebrate Successes to Build Momentum
I believe a lot in the idea of “momentum” as a motivational strategy. This is the idea of setting, achieving, and recognizing successes along the way to the end goal. Each of these achievements, no matter how small, creates momentum. The momentum, by default, is motivating. It reinforces our hard work and the time and effort we invested. It encourages us to keep going.
That’s why it’s super important that you celebrate even the smallest of successes. Even if what you managed to do seems insignificant to you, recognize that it’s at least one step closer to your goals. Celebrate that! Feel good that you did something and let that help motivate you to do that again, or even see if you can do more. By shifting our perspectives to see even small achievements as successes, we allow these events to create momentum and that always leads to motivation for doing more.
Next time you feel stuck in a rut with motivation, give these strategies for motivation a try – I hope they help! Let me know in the comments, as well, if you have any strategies for motivation that help you. Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a great and energized day!
– Mr. Happy Work