Turn Setbacks into Setups

How to Find Motivation and Move Forward Like a Boss

January 23, 2019

Let’s just say it: slumps happen. Sometimes, it’s the winter darkness, a grueling job, family drama, a feeling of failure.


We need motivation—it’s what incites us to act, to change, and to grow. It makes us feel important and worthy, and it helps us move forward, so it’s crucial to our sense of purpose and happiness. But waiting for that motivation to strike? Well, let’s just say you might be waiting for a long time if you sit around waiting for inspiration to come to you.


Even the most successful, achievement-minded people feel demotivated at times. But the difference is that those high-performing people have strategies to help them move past their slump. Learn why demotivation happens to us, and what you can do to cultivate your personal motivation (even when you least feel like it).


Why We Feel Demotivated


Demotivation strikes for a wide range of reasons. The most important thing to do is to be aware of why you feel demotivated, and then to acknowledge the slump or obstacle before you start to move forward. Here are some of the most common reasons we feel a lack of personal motivation:


You’re afraid. You’re worried about the risk involved in your own goals, you don’t know how the future will play out, and you aren’t yet sure you want to move forward—so you’re being a little extra hesitant and careful.


You’ve set the wrong goals. You’ve set goals you don’t really care about, goals that are more focused on what others think of or want for you than what you want for yourself.


You’re not sure what you want. The future feels hazy or unclear, and so you don’t know how to step forward—or even where you’re going.


The challenge is wrong. Either the goals you’ve set are too small, and you’re more bored than inspired—or you’ve set a goal that’s too large, one you can’t actually imagine accomplishing.

You’re emotional. After a trauma or loss, when we feel alone, or when we’re totally burned out, it’s hard to find the mental space to move on. Sometimes when we’re stuck in a dark place, we just need time to recalibrate our thoughts before stepping back toward motivation.


How to Cultivate Your Own Personal Motivation


Shaking yourself off and getting out of a slump doesn’t necessarily need to be a weighty undertaking. In fact, you might just find that a few simple steps, especially ones that help you start reframing the way you approach your life and goals, may earn you that “Eureka!” moment of inspiration.


Set one clear goal. Sometimes you’re demotivated because there’s simply too much going on, and you can’t focus completely. Set one clear goal instead of splitting your attention (and motivation) between a list of goals.


Find your inspiration. This looks different for everyone: maybe you need to take a walk, maybe you need to do research, maybe you need to sit down for coffee with a friend. It sounds obvious, but sometimes reading up on your goal, thinking about it, and talking about it with others can help energize and excite you, allowing you to focus on the outcome you’re seeking.


Think about the end goal, not the difficulty. Every goal is difficult to reach, and just thinking about working toward that end result can feel really draining. But consider the advantages and highlights of what you’re doing—What will you get out of it? Where will it take you in the end?


Choose the right goals. Your goals need to interest you, and they also need to provide the right challenge. Make sure you’re not setting a goal so small you’ll grow bored, or something so large you can’t imagine reaching it.


Plot your way forward. Break your goals into smaller, bite-sized pieces, use visual representations and charts, create lists—whatever you need to make your goals feel manageable.


No matter how demotivated you feel, it’s not hopeless. Taking baby steps can get you started on the path to real change, helping you get (and stay) motivated through the ups and downs of your goals.

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