Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is walk away

Tim Denning
Aug 13 · 5 min read
Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash

Imagine trying to drive your car at 110 kph for seven days straight without stopping. It’s not possible, is it?

Your car will run out of gas; the engine will probably overheat; you’ll fall asleep at the wheel from lack of sleep.

Well, this analogy is how many of us try to operate unconsciously when we are demotivated. It’s a recipe for disaster when we know we aren’t motivated and keep trying to push ahead.

Sometimes the best thing to do when you are demotivated is not to keep doing the work you feel you must do. That work for me is writing. Trying to write when I feel demotivated often leads nowhere.

It’s important to clarify that when I say demotivated, I don’t mean bored, slightly off, or having a rough day. I’m talking about real demotivation, which comes from a string of failures, a major change in life that has stalled, or trying to start something completely new and not finding your stride.

These events can put us in a state that holds us back and takes away our ability to be optimistic. You could also call it stuck in a rut, I guess.

The good news is that demotivation is a temporary state. You can change and recover from it.


You Probably Don’t Need More Inspiration

The minimalist view would be to take part of your life away, rather than add something such as inspiration.

Attempting to be inspired when you are feeling the overwhelming state that is demotivation rarely works. Beating your head against the wall looking for motivation or trying to break through can be exhausting.

Demotivation can lead to giving up if you continually go in circles and don’t try something different.

The last few months, I’ve had a few weeks where I felt completely demotivated. I was worried it would cripple me and potentially ruin everything I had worked for.

Here’s what got me out of feeling demotivated:


Walk Away From the Activity You Need Motivation For

Trying to write when demotivated is tough. Rather than trying to find the motivation or drowning in repetitive practice that still leads to the same outcome of demotivation, walk away.

Whatever activity you need motivation for, walk away.

Doing the same thing over and over and trying not to be demotivated will only make you more frustrated. Frustration and demotivation is a deadly cocktail.

I cured my recent off weeks, when I felt demotivated to write anything, by getting away from writing. Always striving to write something can be exhausting.

When you get away from your goal for a while, you come back missing it, which helps deactivate the demotivation you had previously. It’s not always hustle till you die and do it when you don’t feel like it.

During extreme cases of demotivation, divorcing yourself from your goal is your best option.

Photo by bimo mentara on Unsplash

Parents

A trip to see your parents is beneficial because sometimes you need to remember where you came from to understand where you have to go.

One sunny day, I jumped in the car and went to see my parents. There was lunch, a bag of veggies from the garden, and the sort of welcome a puppy gives you after you say goodbye and come home ten minutes later, and they pretend they haven’t seen you for a whole week.

Your parents get you out of your head, show you love, and give you a rest from feeling demotivated. All your attention goes on them and trying to show them that their sacrifices when you were a kid were all worth it.


Laugh Loudly Out Loud

There is this lady on LinkedIn who goes by the name “Queen of Wipes.” She sells wet wipes for a living, and boy, she is proud of it. When taking a break from feeling demotivated, laughter changes your state.

On demotivated weeks, I made it a daily habit to read her posts and be entertained by them. Her messages seem like a classic comedy routine except they lead you down a path that eventually leaves you with a thought you may not have considered.

Amongst the pictures of her lazy intern Dolly (a dog who has her own LinkedIn page) and her jokes about how people laugh at what she does for a living, is the idea that life is not so bad. Don’t take yourself and your demotivation so seriously.


Sunshine

The days when demotivation grips me by the throat and suffocates any creative ideas I might have, there is a quick escape: sunshine.

I forgot who it was, but some dude on a podcast said whenever you feel demotivated, go and get more sunshine. They said if that doesn’t work, get more sunshine. So that is exactly what I did. I took my lazy ass out of the house, walked down the road, and kept walking in the sunshine until I felt differently.

Surprisingly, it worked. Sometimes all I needed was ten minutes’ exposure, and other times it took a few hours.

Sunshine fills you with energy and warmth.

Sunshine shows you that there is more to life than having to be endlessly motivated.

Staying inside a dark room of your home and walking on a metaphorical treadmill can sometimes be the catalyst to your demotivation.


Human Connection

Being demotivated can be an isolating and lonely feeling. If left unattended for too long, it can lead to a dark place.

Human connection cures loneliness the way a Panadol takes away a headache.

There are two kinds of human connection that I’d try:

1. Your inner circle of friends

These close friends are people you can trust. They are people whose stories you care about and can get lost in at a time like this.

Your close friends know you well and may even have some theories about why you’re feeling demotivated.

2. Complete strangers

When you don’t know someone, you have to try much harder to connect with them. Through this experience, you escape your own stories of demotivation and teleport your mind into someone else’s world.

Strangers say things you don’t expect, and frankly, they don’t care about your demotivation. Connecting with a stranger can sometimes lead to the most unusual friendships.


Demotivation will strike all of us at one time or another. It’s nothing to be afraid of and is a good time to separate yourself from your goals—not for too long, but long enough that you can change your state.

Using these tactics, I recently got over my brief few periods of demotivation. I took the pressure off myself to always be 100% and be that inspiring guy on the internet and realized that every now and then it’s OK not to be OK.

We have our off days, and our motivation goes up and down.

Trying to combat demotivation is not always the best answer. Sometimes all that does is make you even more frustrated.

Next time you feel demotivated, create some space.

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Tim Denning

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Viral Blogger - Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship. www.timdenning.net

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