By: Marcelo Gonzalez
As we enter in to fall and winter rapidly approaches, often times we can find ourselves lacking the motivation to complete goals or engage in tasks. With cooler temperatures and shorter days, many can find it difficult to get excited about work, get errands done, or engage in self-care activities.
It’s of paramount importance to be aware of any mood-related factors to lack of motivation as this can be a symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression or other types of mood disorders. Those who experience ADHD can also find themselves not being able to get things done. Barring those more nuanced contributors to lack of motivation, there are some specific thing we can engage in to increase movement to task when we find it difficult to want to engage.
When trying to tackle a task or a to-do list an overall lack of motivation may not completely stop you from engaging but the task will often cost a greater deal of energy.
At times it can actually feel painful, or just make us feel bad trying to complete the task we are not motivated to do. These options for creating motivation are not just exclusive to environmental changes. It can be difficult to create motivation for a task that we are disinterested in or that we find cumbersome or menial and many times we create a cycle of additional stress.
Often times a conspirator to lack of motivation is avoidance, avoidance can be a default reaction to the task, interactions, or situations that we feel discomfort towards. Follow these hacks to get that motivation engine started.
- Am I avoiding?
- So often lack of motivation can be intertwined with coping through avoidance, i.e. creating distance between yourself and the task; rumination: overthinking as a way to avoid uncomfortable feelings around a situation; rationalizing: finding ways to possibly put a task further down the priority list, etc.
One of the best ways to start engaging in a motivational mindset is to create awareness around the use of avoidance. Ask yourself: Am I avoiding? For most, the answer will be yes, and from that awareness, we can create movement towards motivation.
- What have I done for me lately?
- Self-care can be the create the great return on investment when it comes to motivation. There really is no better alternative to creating movement than doing something you truly enjoy. Fill your day with several rewarding activities to recharge your life/patience batteries.
One helpful way to accomplish this is thinking small. Self-care can come in many forms. Yes, the big ones like vacations, spas, and hobbies are great but most of us can’t fill our daily lives with these kinds of activities. Think of 10 or more things you can do under 10 minutes (ex: doodling, breathing exercises, reading articles on topics that interest you, listening to music, lighting candles, stretching, a walk, etc.) Ultimately these should be things you can do throughout the day, and be like a habit. This is one step you cannot skip if motivation is your goal if you fill your tank with things you enjoy those impossible tasks will be much more acceptable to tackle.
- Plan! Plan! Plan!
- Make a list of what you need to do and really plan it out. Plan based on your energy levels and environmental factors like maybe a task shouldn’t be done until after a meal. Prioritize your list base it on importance your ability if today is already a busy day adding five more things to my list might be enough to completely send me over the edge and put me in a space where nothing gets done. Also, plan based on what’s worked in the past. If I know that I need to get task A done to be able to do Task B then plan accordingly.
Think about the factors that normally inhibit your motivation and plan around those, “I know that I hang out with friends on the weekend” then don’t plan an important task on the weekend because more than likely hanging with your friends will take precedence and kill any motivation you may have had to get that task done. Understand that not everything may get done today, and that’s okay! Plans can also include rewards at the end of task completion for that extra boost to reach your goal.
- Have you tasted the low hanging fruit?
- Tackle the low hanging fruit to create some movement towards the more daunting task. Taking care of more easy things on your to-do list can create a sense of accomplishment and create enough forward momentum to address the more energy-intensive Although these things may be lower on your list as far as prioritization, they can create just the boost you need to get out of that motivation slump.
- Stop “Should-ing” all over yourself!
- Remove “have to”, “supposed to” or “should” from your experience. Having the added pressure of feeling like not having a choice is a total motivation bomb. Eliminate these words from your vocabulary and replace them with words that add choice and allow for freedom. Turn things around by using words like “want”, “can”, “could” and then add a way that you can get behind. For example, “I should get a haircut today” could be “I want to get a haircut today because I always feel great/renewed with a fresh cut!”
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- It’s so important to give yourself the ability to ask others for help when you need it. It can be difficult but important to find the strength to let go of a task and give yourself the permission to ask someone else to step in so you can focus on the task that may be of higher priority. As great as it may feel to check something off that list and get a boost, we can also suffer from list overload when we have a macro view of what needs to get done. If it’s a task you don’t enjoy and can’t find a part that you can get behind, ask someone else to do it. No use draining what little motivation you might have when you could be doing a task that at the very least is enjoyable enough to leave zero-sum balance of motivation/energy.
- Avoid that bird’s eye view.
- The big picture is great for planning, but it can definitely burst your motivation bubble when it’s time to get things done. Take some time to focus in on your task and reign yourself in when you get distracted by the full list. This is the easiest way to get distracted and lose any interest in completing a task. Create a ritual for focusing in whether it breathing exercises, talking yourself up, figure out a way to give the activity all of your attention until it’s completion. If you can stay out of the macro view you can avoid the motivation drain of list overload.