What To Do When Motivation Fails You

We’ve all been there, and it’s no fun at all. I’m talking about that unfortunate period when you sit down to get some work done and no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to get on with things. It’s the worst! That’s exactly why we’ve put together a quick article running through exactly what you should do when it comes to that infuriating time when motivation fails. Whether it’s as simple as going for a quick walk to stretch your legs, or whether you should start looking at building some more disciplined habits into your life, here’s what you should do when motivation fails you.

Motivation is Great However…

It can absolutely abandon you at times. The fact is, life gets in the way and maintaining motivation can begin to seem impossible. One day you can look up, and all the motivation that you count upon to get your work done has deserted you. You’re despondent, bored and unable to continue working. These kinds of scenarios are not uncommon in life. All it takes is one annoying bout of flu, or some argument with the family, and you’re thrown off the path.

This is the problem with motivation. It’s ephemeral and it cannot be counted upon. If you’re dependent on it, you’re putting everything at risk should your motivation fail. We all lose motivation at times, even the most impressive among us. So, what should you be doing if motivation has failed you? What safeguards can we be putting into place to avoid this becoming an issue again?

Never Depend on Motivation

Firstly, you never want to be building a work ethic where you’re dependent on momentary enthusiasm and motivation to get started. If you don’t have routine, organisation and other factors keeping you on the track, and you’re dependent on it occurring to you to get on with it, you’re going to fall behind. Sure, this approach can work for a while, it can even allow you to do some really impressive things. However, it doesn’t take into account all the areas where things can go wrong. It doesn’t acknowledge that some days, you can be ill or whatever, and it certainly doesn’t prioritise consistency.

Consistency is one of the most important things when it comes to achieving huge things. Whether you want to master an instrument or really excel at some project at work, consistently doing small parts until you build up to something huge and impressive. As Aristotle allegedly said; excellence is a habit. It’s not a hat you can pull on one day. It’s something you do daily. Anything else lets you down. The problem with most people is that they massively overestimate what they can get done in a single day, while hugely underestimating what they can get done in a year.

If you just do an hour of something four days a week, that’s no great change to your life.

That’s over two-hundred hours over a year. That could be huge steps toward learning a language.
It doesn’t matter if you spend all weekend trying to learn Spanish, you’re not going to do more than twenty-hours. Then you’ll probably be sickened on it, and have lost a perfectly good weekend of socialising or whatever.

Manage Yourself Like a Team

A useful way to visualise yourself is as a team of people you’re managing. Instead of holding yourself to a ridiculously strict or lax standard, just expect what you’d expect from other people from yourself. And cut yourself a break when you need one. Just treat yourself like a human, and optimise your approach to work as such. When we try to optimise our own output, there’s all kinds of trickiness involved, simply because it’s hard to take an objective look at ourselves and the ways we do things. Just simply visualise yourself as a team of people you’re leading, people whose well-being you’re responsible for. This mindset is great for helping reset the ways you view yourself while taking better care of your mental health. View yourself as a resource rather than some egotistical version of you.

Learn the Skill of Self-Discipline

Fundamentally, the greatest skill anyone can learn is self-discipline. Why? Because it’s the root of all other skills. If you can learn to apply yourself with discipline to anything, you’re going to find everything else in life that much easier. Instead of struggling to work and get things done, you’ve got self-discipline to fall back upon. Of course, it’s not going to fix everything, and self-discipline can fail sometimes too, but building a sturdy discipline is always going to be one of the most unbelievably helpful things you can do.

The best way to view self-discipline is as a muscle. Like any other muscle, if you fail to use it, it will wither and weaken. That means self-discipline is something you absolutely have to prioritise and make use of. Without that regular use, you’re going to struggle to find it when you really need it. Fortunately, all you need to do is make a few simple changes and you’ll start really utilising self-discipline. Things like getting up at the same time every day, showering daily, keeping your room tidy, making your bed, exercising. All these things help you to stay fully in control and keep a clean and healthy lifestyle. I’m not saying never cut loose, but some control when it comes to junk food and alcohol is also hugely helpful when it comes to consistently working on your goals and looking after yourself.

Organise and Strategize

One of the real underrated champions of hard work is organisation. Sure, it’s not a key player, its not the glamourous part of the process, where inspiration strikes or whatever. But it is the logistical part that keeps you able to work consistently, letting you take care of yourself and work in a balanced, manageable way. Organisation has a ton of benefits too. Not only does it mean you’re going to get more done, it also means you’re not going to be stressing about everything you’re not currently working on. You can trust that you’re on top of everything and simply get on with the task at hand. That’s the real value of organisation. If you’re in any way your own boss, that’s absolutely invaluable.

Once you’re organised, it gets much easier to strategize with how and when you work. Simply being able to plan around when you’re going to get this or that done will allow you to really strategize and plan ahead, getting bigger and better things done.

Sometimes, You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees Click To Tweet

Motivation disappearing can feel like the end of the world. You can look up from your desk, after lunch when you’re feeling all sluggish and unfocused, and just find yourself completely without drive. This is the worst! However, it’s always important to note that these little periods of lost focus and motivation will pass if you help them along. There’s loads you can do to help reset yourself in this situation. Here are some of my favourites:

Go for a walk! Just a change of scenery, a little exercise, chat with a colleague or friend. Move around and return to your work feeling refreshed.

Have a drink of water. Maybe you’re dehydrated, worth a shot!

Is it time for a coffee? Caffeine can be a perfect pick-me-up, make sure you don’t drink it too late though, don’t want to disturb your sleep and spoil tomorrow.
Do some exercise. Literally anything. Crank out some push-ups or air squats if you’re not self-conscious!

Write a to-do list. Just get all your thoughts out on what you should be doing right now.

Don’t just sit there. Whatever you do, don’t just sit there letting the procrastination and boredom bed in. This is the very worst thing when it comes to getting through these unmotivated moments.

Ignore Motivation and Do

Lastly, despite all the tips and tricks and thinking about the nature of motivation, all it ever really comes down to is one simple thing. Ignore motivation, and just do. Just pick up your pen or open that word document and get on with it. That’s all there is to it. Don’t bully yourself through it, but recognise that the only thing stopping you right now is you. I know that’s not what anyone wants to hear.

We all want some magic trick that’s going to help us ignore all the boredom and get us charged up to work, but that’s just not reality. More often than not, when motivation fails, you just need to suck it up, have some grit and use that self-discipline to get on with it. Fortunately, we’re all capable of that. What we can do is regularly practice some self-discipline habits, practice some solid organisational habits and that way we always know that we can fall back on our solid self-discipline, or worst case scenario, we’ve got everything organised and planned out.