This week I faced my first motivational setback with my blogging goals. It has been an emotionally challenging week and for most of it, I simply haven’t felt motivated to do anything beyond hide in my own personal bubble. I have my list of blog tasks that I want to accomplish for the week, all of which are leading up to finally promoting a formal business launch. So this is a really big step for me. An exciting step that has been weeks in the making. So what happens when suddenly I lose all momentum and just want to turn the computer off and give up? How do I overcome this setback and jump start my motivation to continue making progress?
One way, the most obvious, is by having self imposed deadlines. At the top of my to-do list is completing my weekly blog post. While I’m brainstorming ways to get myself back on track, I may as well turn it into my weekly article. So here I am, typing this up on Sunday evening, just a few short hours from scheduled publication. But let me tell you, it has taken a lot more than just my deadline to open up my laptop and start typing again. I had to pull out my list of tricks I use to recapture motivation when I’m just not feeling it. Since it was a struggle for me this week, I’ll share them with you in this post.
Here’s a list of five techniques I use to pick myself up and refocus on a goal when I experience setbacks or a lack of motivation.
Five ways to overcome setbacks and reclaim motivation
Take a break
The first thing I did when I realized I just didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to focus on this blog was accept that I wasn’t in the right mind frame and allow myself to simply walk away from the computer.
This wasn’t easy for me to do. Like I mentioned above, I had already written up my weekly prioritized task list of what needed to be completed by Sunday evening. I still work during the week and don’t always have a lot of time to dedicate to this blog. My task list is key to efficiently focusing on my goals and maintaining forward progress. To deviate from this schedule, I had to accept delays, further loss of momentum and missed deadlines.
As a full-time working mom, efficiency is key. There comes a point where I just have to realize that staring at my computer screen with total inability to focus on anything but my stress level and emotional turmoil, just isn’t productive. It doesn’t help my blog, my goals or my emotional well being. Forcing myself to attempt progress in this state only continues to delay everything else in my life.
Once I realized I had been staring at a blank document for longer than I care to admit, I gave myself a minute to take an honest assessment of how I was feeling and what I really needed. I needed some quiet to process everything that was upsetting me. I needed to touch base with my support system and get the moral support I needed. And I needed time.
I gave myself three days to just not worry about anything but taking care of myself and my family. Along with this, I gave myself permission to deviate from my task list and accept that everything I had scheduled would be delayed by a few days. At some point down the road I may not have the option to do this, but right now it was okay. I even factored in time to reassess how I felt at the end of my three days to decide if I needed more time or not. By thinking about this ahead of time I knew it would be easier for me to accept further delay without adding additional stress.
Revisit your why
While this technique didn’t directly apply to the setback I was negotiating, it often is an essential step to regaining motivation.
Whatever your goal is, it is vital to understand your underlying drive to be successful.
Your underlying drive comes from your why. Why is this goal important to you? Simply saying you want to lose weight is not enough to maintain motivation. It’s not enough to overcome setbacks (like when you slip up and binge on ice cream after a bad day at work) or maintain motivation to keep logging calories and exercising when you just want to give up because the scale isn’t moving. You why is what will keep you going. Why do you want to lose weight? Perhaps because you want to be able to run alongside your young daughter when she learns how to ride her bike without training wheels. It is to be able to keep up with her on the playground and be healthy and fit as you raise her to be a healthy and fit individual. Your why provides the reason to keep going through the hard times, even when you don’t want to.
So if you are experiencing a setback or flagging motivation, take the time to revisit your why. Remember why you have this goal and how important it is to you that you succeed. Imagine how you will feel if you stop now and give up. Then imagine how you will feel when you do stick with it and find success. How will your life be different and better when you succeed?
After all the work I have poured into this blog already, and all the reasons I have for starting it in the first place, giving up would just be devastating to me. My why is big enough that even after taking a few days off, I know I’ll be able to jump back in again, with better focus and progress than I was capable of before the needed break.
Assess the underlying cause of your setback or drop in motivation
As I was staring at my blank screen and realizing that I wasn’t anywhere close to the right frame of mind to get work done, I started reflecting on why I was having such a hard time. Once I walked away from my computer and accepted that I needed a break, I took some time to think about just what was causing my distress.
Actually, the cause of my distress was clear. How I was handling that distress was not. Until I had a better understanding of my emotions and started addressing them, I knew I would be next to useless in most other areas.
So if you have a setback, take some time to evaluate what caused it. Accept that it is okay to have setbacks. Even if it was caused by a mistake you made, mistakes are learning opportunities. Be grateful for it! So long as you take the time to understand how your setback happened, you can figure out how to prevent it from happening again. Once you know what not to do, you are one step closer to knowing what you can do that will bring successful results next time.
If you are experiencing a drop in motivation, take some time to assess the underlying cause of that shift in forward momentum. Is there another stress in your life that is using up your emotional stamina? Have you lost sight of your overall goal and the reason it is important to you? Or is it as simple as a disorganized and messy workspace that is distracting your focus? The underlying cause could be super simple or large enough that you have to revisit and adjust your overall goal. Until you really evaluate the cause of your diminishing motivation and make appropriate corrections, you won’t likely recover and get back on track.
Take care of yourself
I think this is one of the most important techniques. There is only so far you can get on an empty tank.
If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s very difficult to take care of anyone, or anything else.
If you keep experiencing setbacks, take some time to assess how you are doing. Are you feeling healthy and happy? If the answer is no, incorporate some time in your day to take care of you. You will be amazed at how productive you can be when you feel great, both emotionally and physically.
Start small and slowly add to a new routine. Wake up a little earlier and go for a walk. Substitute one bad dietary habit for one good one. Take a little break from it all and incorporate some alone time into your day. Small steps add up to big progress so long as you stick with it.
If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, down on yourself or unproductive, try taking a few days to focus on your health and happiness. Take 3-5 days to eat clean, exercise, hydrate and catch up on sleep. I find it really difficult to get started (I totally understand how much easier it is to snack on anything and everything unhealthy when under stress) but every time I do take these few days to recapture my health, I find it so much easier to refocus and gain back momentum. I’m just happier and more productive.
Break down your goal into small actionable steps
If your goal is too big and overwhelming, it’s hard to know where to start or how to make any progress. As soon as you feel like you aren’t making progress, it’s easy to give up.
Instead of just throwing in the towel, take that goal and break it down into many small and actionable steps that you can focus on. Prioritize these steps and then focus on them one at a time. Once you have them all written out and ordered such that each one takes you closer to your end goal, there’s no need to look ahead to the next step until you complete the one you’re on. This goes a long way towards minimizing overwhelm.
All you need to do is focus on one small step at a time. Soon enough you’ll be amazed at just how far you’ve come.
We all experience setbacks in life and dips in our overall motivation to make progress on goals and ambitions. But those setbacks don’t have get the better of us. Use these five techniques to overcome those setbacks and regain motivation to successfully make progress on your goals.
- Take a break (set a time limit and try to refocus, add more time as needed)
- Revisit your why
- Assess the overlying cause
- Is it related?
- Is it some other stressor in your life?
- Address each accordingly
- Take care of yourself
- Take a few days to eat clean, get some exercise and do something fun
- Break down you main goal into smaller, actionable steps.
- Prioritize these steps and then focus on one at a time, not looking at the next step until you’ve completed the one before it.
In all honesty, this week and been a really emotional and challenging week for me. Sometimes life has a way of just getting in the way. This was the first setback I experienced with this blog, all because life got a little challenging and I just wasn’t focused or motivated to put in the work. But once I employed some of these techniques, I was able to pull it back together just in the knick of time to make my Sunday night publication deadline. And I’m so proud of myself for doing what was necessary to take care of myself, take the necessary time off, and then refocus when I needed to.
Give these techniques a try next time you experience your own setbacks and lack of drive and motivation. Or, do you have additional techniques that you use? Leave a comment and let me know what works for you!