Losing Motivation in 2020?

This is a highlighted quote from the blog post.

Photo by  Luis Vidal  on  Unsplash

Photo by Luis Vidal on Unsplash

It was hard for me to pick up the pen today.

At the beginning of 2020, I had set goals for myself to “become prolific,” dreaming of a day when I could have 50-plus articles and 50-plus podcast episodes to my name by the end of the year.

It may be trivial to people who write 3–5 blogs a week, but for me, it was hefty because I’d never produced consistently like that before.

At the beginning of the year, I was on fire. I had never felt so motivated in my life, easily waking up at 5 a.m. every day to meet my goals on top of working a full-time job.

But I knew I would lose motivation at some point.

I would get to a point where it’d be harder to continue producing, and the inertia of my “past self” would try to suck me back in.

It was incremental. Little by little, I could see myself slipping. My mornings started getting lazier and lazier, and I just felt tired all the time.

If you’re feeling this way, know that you’re not alone.

The reality is: it’s not easy. Life happens. Work starts picking up, the kids get sick, breakups get in the way, anxieties crop up.

As I sit here today writing this, just know that I’m right there with you. I’m writing for me as much as I am for you.

Pick Up Where You Left Off

My mentor once presented this scenario:

You’re walking with a bag of groceries from the store back to your house, and you drop all of the items. What do you do?

Do you go all the way back to the store to replace everything you dropped, only to start the long journey back home again?

Or would you pick up what you can, and continue on your way?

A lot of people feel that once they’ve lost momentum, it’s the end. They’ve lost their drive, their edge, their fire. They feel like they have to start over.

The reality is: you’re not who you were when you first started.

Even if you feel that you’ve lost all your progress, that’s more a mental block than it is a reflection of reality. You don’t have to start from scratch.

Will it really take that much time and effort to get started again? Ask yourself, “Is there something I can do tonight to make progress toward my goals? What about tomorrow? This weekend?”

What do you need to do to pick up the pieces and get started again?

Although you may have less than what you started out with, all you have to do is gather your belongings, take stock of what you have, and make a decision to find your way back home.

It’s All About the Why

“He who has a ‘why’ to live can bear almost any ‘how.’”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Often, people launch themselves into the New Year with nothing to carry them except their motivation and fire.

But motivation fades.

So what’s going to carry you when all of that disappears?

It’ll be that core why.

If you find your motivation dwindling and you’re starting to slip on your goals, it’s not too late to ask yourself why you were pursuing those goals in the first place.

For example, if you were trying to get in shape, why is that? If the answer is to look good, ask yourself why you want to look good.

Keep unpeeling the layers and follow the trail of Why? until you get to the core reason.

Be honest with yourself.

Because you might say something that sounds good like,” Oh, I just wanted to feel healthier.

But is that actually the reason?

Or are you avoiding the fact that you’re doing it to impress that cute new girl at work? Or that you’re doing it to spite your ex and get the perfect Kardashian revenge body?

Don’t settle for the hasty surface-level answer. Dig to get to the real core reason.

Once you’ve figured out why you started in the first place, ask yourself if that reason is actually enough to keep you going.

In the past, maybe thinking about your ex was enough to set fire to your insides and get you moving.

But as you grew and matured and worked through your anger and insecurities, you outgrew that “why”.

You’re realizing that in order to reach your goals, you’d have to step back into being that angry and resentful person.

Is that worth it?

Or have you left that person behind for good?

If you’re realizing that the “why” you had at the start doesn’t work for you anymore, then create a “why” instead.

For example, you might say, “ I want to work out for myself and not for someone else.” But even then, that might not be enough. Ask yourself honestly: Is that “why” enough to motivate me toward my goals?

If not, then there’s a reason for that.

Maybe deep down, you don’t actually believe you’re worth the effort.

Maybe you don’t care at all about getting in shape, but everyone around you always seems to be talking about their fitness plans and it makes you feel bad if you can’t chip in.

Dig into what makes you tick and don’t settle for superficial motivations.

Having an authentic motivator and a deeply rooted “why” will stoke the glowing embers to bring back the fire when it starts to die. Willpower, by itself, won’t work.

Letting Go

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”

Tao Te Ching

Maybe you’re realizing that you don’t actually have a good reason to reach your goal.

Be okay, at that point, to let go of what you had in mind from the beginning or change directions.

It’s okay to pivot when you find what truly drives you. Move forward with the understanding that your motivations may continue to change, and that you’ll likely have to pivot again in the future.

Let them change. Be honest with yourself. Don’t hold onto things for the sake of holding on.

Learn to let go.

It’s Just a Break

It helps to know when you’re just taking a break instead of completely giving up.

For example, last week I was feeling really tired. I didn’t have the motivation to write or wake up early, and I just wanted to be alone and sleep.

When this happens, listen to yourself and trust that you’ll come back on the other side.

Sometimes, we just need a break.

Our bodies tell us what we need, if we only listen.

Be a Good Boss

Instead of being a demanding and unreasonable boss that yells at her employees when they miss a few days, be the compassionate boss that knows that life happens and that employees are humans with entire lives outside of work.

When people get the rest they need, they’re a lot more efficient and happy.

However, this only works is if there is trust that goes both ways.

On one side, the boss trusts her team to keep their promises and meet deadlines.

On the other side, the employees need to honor their word and be transparent with their boss, fairly negotiating timelines to make sure they can complete the work required of them.

Often, people swing to either extreme. Either they promise that they’ll get something done but then don’t do it, or they stick rigidly to predefined expectations without room for error or setbacks.

In one case, they watch themselves miss the mark over and over again, slowly degrading the trust they have to keep their own word.

In the other case, they’re denying their own humanness, sticking rigidly to metrics and routines and creating an environment ripe for shame.

Negotiate With Yourself

“Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.” — Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance

It may sound like common sense for a good boss to not micromanage and berate employees when they don’t do exactly what they expected, but often we don’t treat ourselves like an understanding boss would.

We yell at ourselves and point out our own flaws and inadequacies when we don’t do things exactly right, or we’re on the other extreme, rationalizing errors or the fact that we’re not making much progress.

Even when we do get the work done, we don’t reward ourselves or congratulate and celebrate our successes.

The process of negotiating with yourself may look something like this:

If you’re exhausted tonight and really don’t feel like doing xyz, then don’t.

Instead, negotiate the terms. If you don’t do xyz today, then when will you do it? If you don’t do it at all, then how will you make up for that later?

Maybe it means that you’ll do it tomorrow morning or in between classes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself for missing a day, but also make sure to keep doing what you committed to so that you can build trust with yourself.

If you criticize yourself for not meeting some predefined standard, you may just create internal shame and self-hatred. Sometimes, that shame can make things worse, because as you start associating your goal with negative emotions, you start avoiding it more and more.

It’ll start feeling like an obligation instead of something you’ve chosen to do for your own benefit.

If you’re losing steam in 2020, this post is for you.

Take it as a wake-up call to evaluate your life with eyes wide open.

Pick up where you left off. Don’t start back at the beginning.

Figure out your core “why” or find one that’ll keep stoking the fire of your motivation.

Negotiate with yourself by eradicating both judgmental rigidity and empty promises from your internal dialogue.

Trust yourself to take breaks and come out refreshed and motivated on the other side.

Be a good boss to yourself, and learn to understand what your mind and body really need.

Note: To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish this one, but being the good boss that I am, I told myself I could have some steak for dinner if I finished this post ? Hey, if it works, it works!

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