It’s always so exciting to start something new. Whether it’s a challenging hot yoga class or an ambitious marketing plan, we feel so satisfied and productive when we map out a path to success for a new challenge.
If there’s one thing I know about my clients, it’s that they can move mountains when they’re motivated enough. But what happens when that motivation runs out?
Unfortunately, many of our most important activities don’t stand a chance of getting finished without motivation. We feel amazing walking out of yoga class but will do anything to avoid walking into class once the initial excitement fades. We know we get more done with a clean desk, yet put off decluttering when our to-do list seems too long.
If this sounds like you, don't despair! It’s perfectly natural for excitement and motivation to fade the longer you stick with a plan. The key to success long-term isn’t finding new exciting things, but learning to work through phases of low motivation on projects that truly matter.
Here are three of my favorite ways to combat low motivation.
You have limited time. Are you allowing other things to encroach on the time you need for your commitments?
When you’re already lacking motivation for a task, saying you’ll get to it “whenever” is a guarantee it will never get done. Instead, consider blocking low-motivation tasks into your calendar so you can’t push them aside. Remember to set reminders for yourself!
For example, imagine you started doing an online course to improve your skills in social media marketing. You’ve been following along with a series of lessons and loving it, but now find that the sessions are easily pushed aside by your other tasks. Reminder emails to invite you back to the course are not doing the trick.
In this case, you might want to block an hour of your day specifically for learning. Don’t schedule anything else during this time – you owe it to yourself to stick to your business goals! Write yourself a reminder note, set an event in your calendar, and treat your learning hour with as much commitment as you would a scheduled client call.
Make it easier for yourself to achieve your goals. If you know you’ll be busy and distracted in the moment, do some advanced prep to reduce the effort you’ll need to put in later.
Take the example of that yoga class that felt so good and yet, you haven't been back. Let’s say you signed up for a weekly class after work, but you keep cancelling because you’re always running late after a busy afternoon of work.
One way to encourage yourself to go to class is to pack your bag in advance and leave it by the door. Knowing you’ll have everything you need no matter how busy you get during the day will eliminate a lot of the excuses we think up due to low motivation.
Getting ready for yoga could take 20 minutes if you have to drop everything, track down the right pair of yoga pants, rinse out and refill your water bottle. That’s a lot of extra time if you’re already running late. A pre-packed bag, on the other hand, is simple to grab as you head out the door. Not to mention it will be a good visual reminder to go to class!
This is my personal favorite way to keep my motivation up. An accountability group or partner can do a world of good keeping you on track! Team up by telling someone else your goals and asking them to help keep you accountable.
A few months ago I started an online accountability program for freelance translators. I was so excited to see how much progress the participants made, and it even helped keep me on track with my own projects!
Setting weekly goals in this supportive setting helped us focus on building our businesses. Some of us even took the group offline and met in-person at a translators’ conference.
Accountability is critical for success in any endeavor, and this is no different. I may be biased because I offer group accountability programs, but I honestly think supportive accountability from others is the best way to stay motivated.
Working through low motivation can feel boring or frustrating, but working through it can help create a different lifestyle that feels more satisfying.
If none of the above suggestions works, talk to a coach to explore how else you might be creating obstacles for yourself. With a little work, you can reduce these obstacles and move forward. This time of year is especially tough for many people due to the lack of daylight. If you’re struggling to keep up productivity amidst the dark and cold weather, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help!