Overcoming Lack of Motivation in 3 Ways: Before it Becomes Habitual
“Small things — if not corrected — become big things, always.” — Benjamin Hardy
I hadn’t written a single article in over two weeks.
I hadn’t sent an email to my subscriber list in the same amount of time.
My Dad had started asking me why he hadn’t seen my articles pop up in his Medium feed.
You see, I had just returned to Colorado after living in Costa Rica for 3 months. I went there to launch my writing career. But I hit a lag in my motivation a week before I left the beach.
I had a lot going through my mind:
- Do I apply for a job when I get home?
- What type of course should I launch?
- Am I even good enough to be doing this stuff?
- Am I a huge fraud?
- Was this experience a waste or did I actually change my life?
You know. . .typical fear monger stuff.
So while my fear was skipping merrily about my head, I stopped writing. I stopped communicating with my fans. I stopped iterating. I froze.
When I arrived in Colorado (and actually froze, because the temperature difference between Costa Rica and the Rockies is SIGNIFICANT), I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.
I was at the point of no return, where I was either going to fully commit to this dream or quietly slip out the back before too many people noticed me.
For a few days there, I wavered.
But here’s what I did to pull myself out of this temporary lag in motivation and productivity BEFORE it turned into a critical failure.
1. I checked in with a mentor
This was the turning point for me. Aram Rasa Taghavi, a fellow writer on Medium, reached out to schedule a call.
Aram and I were in the same writing course together, and he was doing incredible work, publishing valuable articles daily, and was increasing his followers and subscribers significantly.
I was a bit ashamed taking the call, I felt like a fraud and was embarrassed about my lack of productivity in the recent weeks.
But I jumped on anyways, and was vulnerable and honest about where I was.
I could have easily put up a shield and pretended I was further along than I was, and that everything was fine in my neck of the woods. But it wasn’t and I’ve learned that being honest and vulnerable is the only way to live.
So I was straightforward. When he asked I told him I was thinking about going in other directions (maybe a podcast?), and that I had slacked off and hadn’t reached out to my subscribers in weeks.
He quickly reminded me of something I knew, but hadn’t been practicing: stick with it, just write and publish and don’t EVER leave your list hanging for weeks.
It was simple, really. He reminded me to do the thing I set out to do (write), do it well and do it often and don’t neglect the people who were willing to give me their email address.
It’s business 101. Keep it simple, and take care of your people.
I had gotten to a place where I was dreaming up different ventures and ideas because I was tired of pushing forward on the thing I started out with.
I hadn’t given it enough time and consistent effort to see results, so I was doing what most people do: I was questioning myself and quitting before I had even really tried.
This is mistake #1: Don’t stop pushing when it gets hard, or when the fear takes over and you’re wondering if it’s worth it. Stay committed, stay the course.
Most people quit. The average person stops right before they make serious headway. It only takes a little more effort than the average person is willing to make in order to reach the top.
It took a conversation with a peer-turned-mentor to keep me going. Because he was executing and seeing results, I respected his input, and he motivated me to keep going.
Make friends with people that are a few steps ahead of you so you have someone to chase and so you have people that have been where you’ve been recently to talk to.
And remember to choose these people wisely: don’t take advice from anyone you aren’t willing to trade places with.
2. I got plugged into my routines
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition” — W.H.Auden
The point of having routines is to create circumstances that force your hand into action.
No matter what, we all have routines in place. Whether your routines are forcing you to be productive or motivated to complete your work is another story.
This distinction — whether your routines are bringing you closer to your success, or further away — is what separates the dreamers from doers.
When I arrived back home to Colorado, I was in a situation where I needed to recreate my habits and routines. I didn’t have a job and was trying to continue launching my writing career and monetizing.
I had a clean slate to start from. Thankfully, I had spent the last 3 months building habits that force me to write, be creative, and plug into my intuition so I can be effective in my work.
So when I hit this lag point, I realized I wasn’t sticking with the routines that force me be productive.
- I wasn’t journaling effectively
- I wasn’t really concentrating during meditation, and I wasn’t doing my practice consistently
- I hadn’t established a daily writing goal
- I didn’t really have a vision of what my next step was, nor did I make a daily check list to accomplish those things
All of these routines, when used correctly, force me to be productive and continue writing and building my business.
When I’m not using them, they’re useless and I flounder.
So I got clear again, and wrote out in detail what my priorities were every day. I wrote out an idiot-proof list of what things I was going to do every morning before I started work. I set my alarm for 5am and I got out of bed ready to do work every morning (without hitting snooze).
Mistake #2: Don’t assume you’ll be successful with anything without establishing a routine that makes it fool proof to complete what needs to get done.
We are easily distracted and taken off course. Establish the right routines that make it nearly impossible to fail or not do work.
It took realizing that I was throwing my days away because I hadn’t established a list of priorities and a routine that forced me to do the work. So my momentum and productivity was failing.
As soon as I recognized this, I was able to turn it around and reestablish the routines I know make me more productive and successful.
3. I forced daily accountability
Accountability is one of the top reasons people fail at their New Years Resolutions. It’s an incredibly effective tool to make sure you actually follow through with your goals.
But it can be a difficult thing to establish. When I returned from Costa Rica I wasn’t sure if I should get a full time job.
I don’t have a secret trust fund. My husband doesn’t make enough money to support us on his salary alone. I have to contribute.
I got scared, and ended up applying for a position that popped up in my Facebook news feed. But I haven’t heard back and I don’t expect to.
This created a very real form of accountability. I’m making just enough money to get by on a few odd jobs, but my life is kind of in a stand still until I start making a steady source of income.
In making the decision to not get a full time job, I’m suddenly accountable to myself to follow through with my goals.
I doubled down on the accountability by committing to writing one article per day for the entire month of January.
Mistake #3: Don’t think that simply making a choice to do something will force your success. Create checks that hold you accountable to finishing what you started.
The best kind of routines are those that have ingrained accountability.
I committed publicly, within a think tank group, to write one article per day. This is forcing me to act on the decision I made to become a successful writer and monetize my business.
The very important layer of accountability on top of that is the one in which I am living a life of bare minimum until I am able to make an income from my business. This is a forced circumstance in which I must act and I must follow through in order to succeed.
I have experienced these lags hundreds of times before, and will likely experience them again. I know that they are dangerous and potentially lethal to dreams.
I have kissed away my own success when I allowed the lag to turn into a habit.
But I have created circumstances in which I have no other choice but to move forward.
I have created checks and balances to keep executing. I am holding myself accountable.
AND THAT has made all the difference.
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