Motivation Refueled: 12 Ways to Find It if You Lose it Along the Way

by Henrik Edberg

Motivation Refueled
Image by nicolas_gent (license).

.“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Zig Ziglar

“I was thinking one day and I realized that if I just had somebody behind me all the way to motivate me I could make a big difference. Nobody came along like that so I just became that person for myself.”

Staying motivated until you reach your goals and dreams isn’t always easy. There are often roadblocks, plateaus and valleys along the way where you can get into a slump. Or a rut. And feel like your motivation has flown away.

So today I would like to share 12 ways that I have used to find that motivation again. I hope you’ll find something helpful here.

  1. Refocus on doing what YOU really, really like to do. When you really like doing something then the motivation to do it comes automatically (most of the time). And when you really want something then it simply becomes easier to push through any inner resistance you feel. So if you lose your motivation, ask yourself: Am I doing what I really want to do? If not and if possible, refocus and start working on that very important thing instead.
  2. Make a list of upsides. Write down all the benefits you will get from achieving something, like for example getting into better shape or making more money. Save it and then pull that list out of the drawer whenever your motivation is lacking again and review it. Or put it somewhere where you will see it every day until you reach your dream. This is a powerful way to reconnect with your motivation and reasons for taking action.
  3. Make a list of downsides. You can combine this with the list of upsides to give yourself even more motivation to start moving and get things done. Ask yourself: how will my life look in 5 years if I continue to stay on the same path as now? How will life likely become worse for me and maybe even for the people around me? Try to see the negative consequences as vividly as you can in your mind to kickstart your motivation to start going for that positive change again.
  4. Spend 3 minutes with remembering your successes. If you lose your motivation then it is easy to get stuck in looking at your failures and so you get stuck in that slump. So instead, sit down for three minutes and just remember your successes. Let them wash over you and refuel your inspiration and motivation.
  5. Go for a bigger goal. Set a big goal that inspires you even if it may seem a tad unrealistic at the moment. If you have too easily achievable goals then you may find that they don’t give you that motivational spark and drive. When you start to think a bit bigger then you get motivated and your mind starts looking for the solutions that will help you achieve that goal. Thinking too small can leave you with a “meh…” feeling or make you feel like you can do it later.
  6. Remember how far you have come and compare yourself with yourself. Comparing what you have and your results to what other people have and have accomplished can really kill your motivation. There are always people ahead of you. So focus on you. On your results. And how you can and have improved your results. This is important because it’s a great motivator to see how much you have improved and how far you have come. Often you can be pleasantly surprised when you do such a review.
  7. Reconnect with optimism. How you perceive what you are doing or are about to do makes a huge difference. The positive and constructive way of looking at things energizes and inspires you. It makes it easier to keep going even when you hit roadblocks. So ask yourself questions like: What is awesome about this situation? What can I learn from this and what is the opportunity in this situation? How can I or we solve this and what is the next small step that I or we can take to do so?
  8. Work out. I like this one because even if you feel too frustrated and down to do ask yourself the right questions you can still drag yourself to the gym or wherever you go to exercise. And if you just do your pretty mindless repetitions then your body will do the rest. Endorphins, testosterone and other chemicals will be released. Inner tensions will loosen up and leave your body. Your negative emotional pattern will be broken. And new energy will be added to your body.
  9. Talk about it. Sometimes you just need to let it out and talk to someone about your motivational low point. Letting it all out can release a lot of pent up emotion and let you get a new, more positive and healthy perspective on things. Often we build our own small or medium-sized problems into big scary monsters in our minds. Letting the monsters out into the light and letting others see them can make us realize that we were making a too big of a deal of it all. It allows us to lighten up a bit, to not take things too seriously and to start moving out of the self-created slump. So talk to a friend or family member. Or try an anonymous internet forum with likeminded people.
  10. Remember to have fun. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the seriousness of a task and the stress and tension of completing it. So remember that you are allowed to have fun when you are working on it. There is no rule that says you have to be all serious about it all the time. When you can, create fun in a task. Compete with yourself to finish it even faster than you did the last time, whistle a nice tune while working or have fun and joke around with your co-workers and class mates.
  11. Start moving and let the motivation catch up with you. Many times I have found it better to just do it and start working instead of trying to motivate myself to get going. At first what you do may suck quite a bit and it’s hard going. But after a while inspiration and motivation seems to catch up with you. Things start to flow easier and your work is of a higher quality.
  12. Take a break. Yeah, sometimes you just need to take a break. Perhaps your time-plan for your goal or new habit is just too optimistic? Maybe you have worked harder than you can manage right now. Then take a break. A few hours or days of rest and recuperation can change how you feel in a remarkable way and recharge your batteries.

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Jaky Astik November 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm

One good way is to forgive. Most of the time, we simply can’t forgive and that simply keeps bubbling in our minds. The thought bubbles make it utter impossible to stay motivated.

Stephanie Clark November 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I especially like number six – compare me to me! What’s the point of comparing myself to my industry’s super-star? Best to recall where I was six years ago, revel in where I’ve come to five years later, and then I can look at those super-stars and set my goals according to what they have achieved that I would like to also achieve.
Great list, excellent reminders of how to stay motivated!

Andrea November 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Right on, Stephanie! I couldn’t have said it better. #6 is my takeaway too.

Madeleine, Psychotherapist and Counsellor in W9 and W2 November 8, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Stephanie and Andrea,

I so agree with you! It is really good to take stock sometimes and see how far we’ve come. And sometimes it is good to notice that some of one’s peers who are no more gifted than oneself have charged ahead because they had more audacity – and then we might get a bit bolder, too. This, sadly, I feel is still often a challenge for us women.

Geraldine November 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Oh so true…re: the need to celebrate our own successes, big and small. How often is that left while we focus on what we failed at or could have done better. Another gem here Henrik, thank you!

Sijispeak November 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

Hi sir am readig ur blog post Letting it all out can release a lot of pent up emotion is very nice sir thanxx…..

Jan November 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Ive had a great day today (its 20:30 in germany) because i keep these tips in my mind all the time. Thanks :)

Petr Mihulka November 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I’d like to pick up on Jaky’s comment. I see forgiveness as probably the most effective way of cleaning up the past and recovering one’s energy. Forgiveness is what I call “detoxification of emotions”. It is one of the most important keys to becoming free enough and strong enough to start implementing any other new things in life. Thanks for the great post and thanks to you Jaky for the comment.

Kian | Awesome Life Coach November 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The other thing I like to do that wasn’t mentioned in the post is to create a vision board, where you put of all the things you want e.g. your dream house, your dream car etc. Looking at your vision board everyday is nother great way to stay motivated.

Justlife November 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I agree with you, Kian. A vision board will certainly reminds us what we’re striving for and never simply give up half way.

Emily November 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I want to add: think about the WHY. Why are you doing a thing in the first place? Thinking about the ultimate results of a goal, plan, dream or action helps to re-ignite the fire of passion.

Shawna S. November 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I like the idea of making a pros and cons list, that can really be helpful when making big decisions. This blog was an easy read.

Justin November 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Great post for staying motivated Henrik. The key point for me is to have fun while staying motivated and achieving my goal. When something is made fun it can be done almost perpetually.

Jarrod | Cultivating Heroes November 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Adding onto building the negatives (stacking the pain for staying where you are) I love the question “What will happen if you don’t” and “What won’t happen if you don’t”. Often our answers feel very unsatisfactory to ourselves.

vishal November 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I like this post a lot. It really helps to keep going. We all know that we have got priorities and goals to achieve but due to the busy routine we deviate & then regret about the results. It is really a good idea to keep reminding ourself about the ways to motivate. I specially like point 7 “Reconnect with optimism”. We will never get disappointed or demotivated if we master the habbit to find out the positive out of everything that happens with us.

Henrik Edberg November 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Thanks a lot for adding your own tips, guys! Much appreciated! :)

Peter Y. November 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Great tips! I find that listing down the upsides was very helpful to me. Now I have a clearer picture on why I’m working towards my goals and it’s not as difficult to stay on course.

Rod and the Pursuit of Happiness November 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

All of these are great. I appreciate #6, but #5 pumps me up more than anything. Even if the current goal seems a tad overwhelming, connecting to an even bigger challenge with an awesome payoff gets my motor running like nothing else.

I first came across this idea when doing standing broad jump in junior high school in Rockville, Maryland, 1964. A few could do better than 7 feet, but I was stuck at 5’4″. Then I got a bright idea. I looked at the 10′ line and said, “Ah, there’s 5′. I can do that easy!” I let the idea sink in and jumped–7′ 3″. Not a bad ROI for a 10-second investment.

Harriete Alcantara November 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm

What strikes me most from these tips is “Reconnect with Optimism”. Often times, the struggles which I experienced drops me into negativity. But its good to be reminded of this equation : Positive Thinking + Positive Action = Positive Results .

Mr. Frank's Place November 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I would like to add gratitude to this list. Being grateful for what you already is critical to be able to receive more in your life. Being grateful everyday is a great feeling.

Charlie Aden November 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Great post – I really need this at this time of year! It’s so tempting to just go into hibernation for an English winter! ;-)

Ashwini Damani November 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

hey that was a really nice article…
Happiness more often then not comes in surprises and in places where we dont expect. Just posted a very touching story on my own blog about how a simple act of selflessness can give happiness abound..Do check out the story. Linked it here for easy access

Ruchira Agrawal November 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

Just came across your blog Henrik, what a wonderful resource. I have just begun blogging myself – The Wise Leap – and while reading the internet came across your place here on the web. What a great article. You have mentioned many great points. Motivation speaks to different people in different ways. What works for one, doesn’t work for another. One thing I have observed that works very well with many is if they realize ‘WHY’ they are doing something. If that WHY is strong and logic or emotion around it makes perfect sense, reminding yourself of that alone, when you find yourself slipping can bring you back on track. Thank you.

Agatha Tefora November 24, 2011 at 5:59 am

6. Remember how far you have come and compare yourself with yourself. – It’s true. I am more appreciative and thankful of each and every achievements I have made along the way. This keeps me more motivated to doing the things I have planned out. And instead of comparing myself to other people, I get inspired by their achievements.

Melbourne Counsellor November 28, 2011 at 6:48 am

Thanks, these are some great tips for getting back on track. I have a related post on why people procrastinate; it’s more complex than it might seem! Explains some of the reasons people need to get re-motivated in the first place. Your readers might find it interesting
Keep the posts coming!

Kelsey November 28, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I get really unmotivated when I get distracted, so I try to set my away messages online and then use Focus Booster (free time countdown) to stay focused.

Cybvep December 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm


You probably know the common mind trap associated with various motivation methods which gets you going only for a short period of time. In my case it often happens when I’m reading all those motivational posts or ideas and then realise that it took me three hours and I achieved nothing. The realisation itself can be very demotivating itself and it sometimes prevents me from doing sth that is more productive. What do you think can be done about it?

Anonymous December 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Just found your blog and am loving meandering through all the good vibes! I, too, am in the good vibe making mode. Twinkle, twinkle, little stars!

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