Anyone else struggle to get things done? I don’t know about you, but lack of motivation can feel like a curse. I know that I want things — I want to be successful, to write another blog post, to get out of bed at 5AM (ha!) But sometimes it’s so freaking hard to do what I know needs to get done. Thankfully, I’ve picked up a few tricks for how to get motivated when I’m totally not feeling it. It’s not always easy, but it’s beyond worth it.
Create a Vision Board
Vision boards are everywhere these days. There are countless blog posts touting the benefits of creating a vision board, but — in all honesty — I wasn’t a fan. That is, until I realized that having something to *look* at when I’m not feeling motivated makes a huge difference. Now? I’m a total vision board convert.
I’m not crafty (at all), so my vision board is 100% digital. I have one on both Pinterest and Instagram, and I use them to save images that relate to the dream life I’m working to build. I love saving inspirational and motivational quotes, photos of my dream home, places I want to travel, and more. Basically, it adds an extra layer of “reality” to what I’m working toward.
It can be hard to motivate yourself to get things done if you aren’t keeping the reward in mind.
Vision boards make that easy! Instead of slogging away at a job you feel “meh” about with no end in sight, your vision board is a reminder of your why you’re doing what you’re doing, where you want to end up, and — most importantly — what you should do to get there.
It’s true. I’m willing to stoop to bribery, and it’s my secret self-motivation weapon. Whenever I’m struggling to finish a task (okay, or start one), I like to come up with a reward. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Sometimes, we just need a little extra kick to get us started.
Some of my favorite bribes include a snack, a trip to the store for a Redbull — or a bottle of wine for dinner — or thirty minutes of guilt-free reading. Got a show you’re obsessed with on Netflix? Use it to motivate yourself! I don’t watch Netflix while I’m working — otherwise I end up, ya know, watching Netflix instead of working — but I absolutely bribe myself with the next episode of whatever show I’m watching.
To make things even easier, I keep a running wishlist on my phone of things I *really* want. This might be a massage, a new lens for my camera, or something different. Obviously, I don’t want to start splurging every time I mark off a single task, but using a bigger item can be great motivation for staying on task for several weeks or finishing a larger project.
Newton’s first law states that an object at rest will remain at rest, and an object in motion will remain in motion — unless it’s acted upon by an external force. I like to think this applies to human beings and our motivation as well!
It can be difficult to get started from zero, so I like to make it impossibly easy to gain momentum. On days when I’m struggling to get out of bed, I put everything on my to-do list. Brushing my teeth? Check. Drinking water? Done. Feeding the dogs and myself? Crushed it.
Every time we cross something off a list, our brains get a hit of dopamine that makes us want to keep going. Cross several things off, and suddenly you’ve got forward momentum that can be leveraged to crush whatever goals you’re struggling with.
A word of advice? Make sure you don’t add extra things to your to-do list. Postponing things to avoid them doesn’t help! I’ve done this in the past, and it’s a subtle form of self-sabotage that can be a major roadblock. I’ve wasted entire days on meaningless tasks to avoid doing something that only took me thirty minutes. (Yep.)
Friends are a great source of motivation, especially when you know someone who totally gets where you’re coming from. (And yes, internet friends count!) One of my best friends did weekly check-ins with me while I was stuck on my last project, and all she did was ask me how things were going. That little bit of motivation helped me stay on task, and it also gave me someone to talk to when I was stuck.
There are so many kinds of accountability partners, and the possibilities are endless. I’ve joined a local Mastermind of female entrepreneurs, and I also check-in with my Discord group and another Facebook group for writers on a regular basis. Every once in a while, we even do friendly competitions for those of us who thrive under pressure.
My partner has been a huge help in this area too. There have been times when I’ve texted him saying, “Hey, I need you to tell me to do this thing,” and he does. He asks me immediately (and pesters me throughout the day, if needed) until I finally get it done.
Feeling super social? Find someone you can meet for coffee once a month. Definitely not social? Think outside the box! There’s even an app that can help you reset your habits, encourage you, and keep you accountable. Everyone’s different, and you can do whatever works for you.
Raise Your Vibration
Not gonna lie, I wasn’t a fan of the phrase “raise your vibration” until recently. If you’re not familiar with the Law of Attraction, raising your vibration is simply a different way of saying that you’re changing your thoughts, energies, or attitudes toward something.
When we’re demotivated, we don’t feel like doing anything. Moving, working, thinking…it can just feel like so much effort. That’s why I love the term “vibration.” It reminds me that I can go from feeling stuck and motionless to vibrating with energy and positivity. Raising your vibration *feels* way more active than simply saying “be positive”, and that’s why it works.
The more excited I am about something, the more likely I am to actually do it.
Think about what makes you feel really freaking great. For me, it’s listening to an upbeat playlist of my favorite songs (or the entire soundtrack of The Greatest Showman), listing out things I’m grateful for, or simply lighting a candle.
I like to imagine I’m setting the mood for the work I need to get done and the life I want to build. Over time, I’ve created my own little rituals that lift my spirits in a pinch without spending too much time on things that are distracting. Grabbing a cup of tea or coffee, dancing to my favorite song, and lighting a candle isn’t exactly a labor intensive process, but it makes me feel amazing.
Try a Pattern Interrupter
There are times in life when we get stuck. Really stuck. When that happens, even the best tips for increasing your motivation can fall flat. Whether that’s you now or not, learning how to embrace pattern interrupters can be an absolutely invaluable tool.
When I get trapped in a cycle of lethargy, negativity, and a lack of motivation, sometimes it’s because I’ve been doing the same freaking thing for so long that my brain is screaming for a change in routine. This is where the pattern interrupter comes in.
You can do something small (but still unexpected), like picking up your computer and working somewhere you’ve never worked before, to give yourself a much-needed refresher. Feeling more brave? Try turning off your phone for an afternoon — or an entire weekend — and step outside of your comfort zone. Wander around a new part of your city, try a new food, or do that thing you’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage to try.
Even the smallest change can make a huge impact.
Personally? I like to use small pattern interrupters when I’m feeling depressed or beating myself up mentally. My favorite strategy doesn’t even involve leaving the house or changing out of your pajamas, and you can do it anywhere in the world.
Next time you’re feeling particularly down, find somewhere private, and take a deep breath. Now? Let it all out, and I mean all of it. When I do this, I wave my arms in the air, stamp my feet, wiggle, make weird faces, yell silly sounds, and embrace my inner ridiculous child. It sounds so crazy (believe me, I had to write this paragraph more than once), but it works so well. By doing this, you’re literally disrupting whatever pattern you’re stuck in — whether that’s negative thoughts or something else — and it can help give you an instant fresh start. From there, you can decide to do whatever you want.
But that’s the catch — you have to choose to act.
And when it comes down to it, that’s what learning how to get motivated is all about. It’s not some secret that only some people have unlocked, it’s not a mystical life energy floating through the universe, and it’s not impossible for you to master. It’s a choice. You’re choosing to ditch your limiting beliefs and to do the thing that you know will move you closer to your goals. And that is one of the most powerful sources of motivation in the world.