How to Break Out of a Motivational Slump

Image by Alex E. Proimos (license).

[hana-code-insert name=’socialbuttons’ /]“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice”
Wayne Dyer

If you are setting a new goal or establishing a new habit then it’s pretty likely that you’ll run into a motivational low point.

A point where you just feel like giving up, like it really doesn’t matter if you continue.

What to do then?

Here’s what I do instead of giving up and going home.

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.

The negative and defeatist way of looking at things will on the other hand suck the motivation out of you and you’ll probably quit just as soon as you hit a roadblock or two. It is essential to develop a more constructive and optimistic way of looking at things to keep the motivation up until you have reached your goal.

A very practical way to become a more optimistic person is to ask the better questions that will empower you.

Ask the right questions that will focus on the good such as:

What is awesome about this situation?

Ask the questions that will focus on the lesson or opportunity in a situation such as:

What can I learn from this? And what is the opportunity in this situation?

And ask the questions that focus on how to solve a problem. Instead of complaining, blaming or asking why you have the problem. Ask action oriented questions like:

How can I solve this? And what is the next small step that I can take to do so?

List the positives.

List the positives of getting this thing done or reaching your goal. Do it on paper, on your computer or just in your head.

When you feel unmotivated and don’t feel like doing something it’s very easy to get stuck and just focus on the negative aspects such as it being hard work or the risk of pain or failure.

So you need to change what you are focusing on to motivate yourself to take action. Making a list of positives like benefits, possible opportunities and simply reasons why you want to do this can be very effective for turning your focus around.

Remember how far you have come and to compare yourself with yourself.

Comparing what you have and your results to what other people have and have accomplished can really kill your motivation. I believe this is one of the most common motivational mistakes people make and it can make you feel really bad even though you may be doing quite good.

So keep in mind that there are always people ahead of you. Most likely quite a bit of people. And a few of them are miles ahead. So focus on you. On your results. And how you can and have improved your results.

Reviewing your results is important so that you see where you have gone wrong in the past to avoid similar missteps further on. But it’s also 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.

Work out.

This is one of the most effective ways to change how you feel. I like it 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.

After the workout you’ll be in another emotional state than you were before. Plus, you’ll probably get a boost of new energy.

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 all of it. 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. Perhaps you’ll even get a few pieces of great and free advice.

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. Then, with a lighter frame of mind, you’ll stay motivated to keep working and finish it.

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.

What is your favorite way to get out of a motivational slump?

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I find blogging about your goal to be a very effective way to keep the motivation up and increase the accountability.

    If you blog about your progress and have some of your close friends monitor your activity regularly, you’ll be more accountable and motivated to achieve your goal.

    • Very good tip. The blog can really help you to stay motivated and accountable.

  • Dion

    I love reading your blogs, however, I don’t think that it’s that easy to stay positive with so much of the real world to deal with. I do think one can get back into a positive spirit after being knocked around by negative. I am one who tries to stay postive at all times but, fall short at times as well. How can we manage that in a positive effective way?

    • I think it is impossible to always be positive. The important thing is to try to improve little by little so you learn to turn around negative situations better and better over time.

  • To me a slump is when the energy has gone out of it. Find ways to re-energise yourself in mind, body, and spirit and then come back to it. Re-connect yourself to a better vibe be it a good walk, or great conversation, or some exercise. This rejuvenation and inner refreshment usually works wonders.

    • Yes, re-energizing usually works very well. Thanks for sharing your tip!

  • Inspiration, for me, comes from others who have achieved what I want to achieve, or who are currently doing it. I read other blogs, books, magazines. I Google my goal, and read success stories.

    • Good one, success stories can not only give you useful practical tips but also re-ignite those positive emotions and motivation.

  • Megan

    This is a really good article for this time of year. The New Year’s Resolutions are starting to fade and I’m feeling so drained already. I was literally right in the middle of a motivational slump when I saw this title, thank goodness for Positivity Blog. You really do save me from myself sometimes.

  • Excellent tip about the good stuff section, thank you for sharing!

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH! Now I’m going to call those calls I should’ve done months ago! Thanks.

  • You’ve written a great post in the past regarding breaking the tasks up into tiny junks, so that way you it’s less overwhelming and with each accomplishment, you get a renew fresh sense of accomplishment to build your motivation back up. I use that tactic everyday.