Three Hacks to Get Unstuck and Stay Motivated

What happens when you’re feeling unmotivated? We all have days like that, and sometimes those days turn into weeks or months. Sometimes, it’s just the external environment that makes you unmotivated. Or it might be a rough patch in your personal life or professional career.

Lack of motivation and self-doubt can also seep in when we’re on a steep learning curve. Really any time we’re doing things outside of our comfort zone. We may get so unmotivated we just cannot take the next step. We get frustrated with ourselves and may even experience a lack of enjoyment; the struggle, the difficulty to keeping on keeping on, the plugging through it leaves us wondering – “is it just me?” We look around and see all these motivated people so happy and accomplishing great things. It deflates us further (for another VLOG, are those people quite so contented?)

In other words, when we’re feeling unmotivated, we see we’ve got a problem on our hands.

Or do we?

Consider this. Maybe it’s actually a cue to take a look at our life and see what expectations we have of ourselves, whether it be tasks, inflated hopes and high expectations.  Maybe it’s a chance to consider if we’re really happy and if our life and career is working as it should. Maybe it’s a chance to ask, “what can I let go of?” It’s also an opportunity to revisit what’s working, what’s worked in the past, and make shifts to fix a few things.

One of the greatest gifts of being unmotivated is that you get a chance to ask yourself, “How have I been on autopilot?

For those of you who run your own businesses, keep your household going, are leaders or have an organization depending on you, you may feel an extra sense of responsibility to keep your motivation level high. Here are some suggestions that I use in my own life and share with my coaching clients when they find themselves unmotivated:

  1. Backtrack

Revisit the last time you were unmotivated. What helped you get back on track? You already have the answers within. You’ve done this already.

Four years ago, when we were going through a very serious family crisis, we had to make some pretty big decisions. I left my job to start my own business and the kids switched schools midway through the year as we moved to a new community. Circumstances and the monumental changes that were in front of us were exhausting, and many times, we were not motivated at all.

Looking back to that circumstance, understanding the steps we took to be able to figure out what that next path was, and to be brave enough to take it, makes it easier to follow those same steps now. In fact, I was so excited to do that, it got me so motivated to translate it into action, that I built a virtual program with all these steps called, “52 Weeks of Greatness: Satisfaction, Clarity, and Direction in Work and Life.” I work my own program because it worked in the past. What it reminds me is, if I could get through that difficult tie, I can get through other demotivating times. So, look at your own journey, about how you’ve been able to get motivated again because there’s gold in your experience.

  1. Practice a daily self-recognition ritual

When I first made the leap, I had no one telling me if I was on track or not. So, guess what I thought? I wasn’t on track! I had to start recognizing myself every day. Literally. I’d take a piece of paper (yes in the shape of a FROG) and acknowledge one thing a day that worked. At first, it was tough. Then it got easier and I’d think, “Oh I could write that down, and that thing, and that…”

How does this help with motivation? It celebrates your successes. It’s a concrete strategy or ritual that reinforces this too.

It’s like setting a goal. We’re more likely to do it when we make a decision and know exactly how to execute it in a simple way.  Then, when you achieve the goal (even if it’s a tiny one like writing an acknowledgement on a piece of paper), you get a dopamine hit, the juicy achievement chemical, that your brain loves which elevates your mood. Good mood increases motivation. See the cycle?

  1. Decide how you want to spend your time

Take a look at all the things that are taking up your time, particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed; lack of motivation can come from being too busy and distracted – “where do I start?

Ask yourself, “Is there something that I can put on hold or stop completely?” When I was feeling very overwhelmed, it almost paralyzed me from moving forward. What I noticed was that I had too many things on my plate for my business and that I was having to start making choices about family or work.

As a self-proclaimed family-first entrepreneur, I make choices every day about what to say yes and no to, which clients to work with, and even how far to travel for work based on fit with family and lifestyle. Leaving money on the table used to scare me (okay, it still sometimes does) but I am actually less motivated when I make more money but feel misaligned. What are your priorities? How can you use them to determine where you wish to spend your time and resources?

These are the top three things I suggest for you to get you back on track when you’re unmotivated. What additional tips do you have? Comment below.

Now, you may have read this not because you are the person who’s unmotivated. Maybe it’s somebody in your life. Maybe it’s somebody on your team, in your family, or a friend. Someone you know is a rock star yet they may not see it in themselves at the moment. Share this with them with a note you know this will pass and you hope these tips will help. And if it helps, I have three complimentary modules from the 52 Weeks of Greatness Program you, your friends and your colleagues are welcome to take (just click this link to take advantage of it)!

I hope you found this really helpful because:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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