This blog post has a loaded title.
I've said time and time again, and stand strongly behind the fact that you can't wait for motivation to hit you in order to make changes in your life. Why? Because we're humans with emotions, and when we let motivation (an emotion) drive us, instead of discipline and habits, we could be waiting around for a looooong damn time.
But sometimes we just feel unmotivated, ya dig?
And to put the cherry on top of not feeling up to the challenge, when we're unmotivated, we stress about being unmotivated.
It's like a vicious cycle of: don't feel like doing the thing, so you don't do the thing, but then feel bad about not doing the thing.
Can you relate?
Let's sit down and have a little story time, shall we? Then, don't worry — we'll also get into some practical tips about motivation and how you can light a fire under your bum to get you going again.
First, let me let you in on a little secret: NO ONE feels motivated 100% of the time. Not Beyonce, not the Queen, not the fitness/business/whoever idols you have.
Every single one of us feels unmotivated at some point — sometimes even on a daily basis.
That's why it's important to create solid habits that push us THROUGH the times we're not feeling motivated, but more on the logistics/advice/tips later.
Six-ish weeks ago, I decided to take a break from social media.
Good for my business? Eh, probably not.
Good for my productivity? Probably.
Good for my sanity? At the time, yes.
I've gone through a lot of fear gremlins in my time away from social media, as this is the longest break I've ever taken since I started my business back in 2014. "Everyone's going to forget about you. You'll become irrelevant. Taking a break? Psh, what kind of leader are you?"
And while some of those things may be true, I know that when I'm ready to return, I will.
But the funny thing is, I haven't felt a strong pull to return to creating content (on social media, anyway. I'm definitely feeling the writing itch - which is why I'm here with you right now!)
Which has led me to ask the question: "Am I just lazy? Unmotivated? Should I give up on my business/social media/creating content altogether?"
And perhaps the question that I've been thinking about more than anything...
WILL I EVER GET MY MOTIVATION AND DRIVE BACK?
Thankfully, If experience tells me anything, the answer is yes.
There have been a few times in my life when I haven't felt 'motivated' for longer periods of time. (I'm not talking about the daily "I don't feel like going to the gym waaah")... I'm talking about multiple weeks where I'm just like... MEH. I DON'T WANNAAAA.
^ Actual footage of me the first 6 months I lived in Canada.
But every single time I've let myself rid the wave of being unmotivated, my motivation ultimately came back and I was ready to go full-force again.
When I moved to Canada, it took me 6 MONTHS to get back into my groove with working out again. That doesn't mean I stopped altogether — I wasn't really feeling it, but the discipline and habits I created led me to do it anyway.
So, if you're in a period right now where you feel MEH and like you're never going to get back into the groove with whatever used to excite you/motivate you, here are some tips that have been helping me:
Tips for Long Periods of Not Feeling Motivated
1. Don't beat yourself up / celebrate your success in other areas.
As I mentioned before, NO ONE feels motivated 100% of the time. And that is totally OK.
Life comes in seasons: some seasons we're laser focused, and others — we're focused on other things.
Look at the big picture: maybe your motivation for working out has faded, but you're in a really busy season at work. Celebrate your success there instead of looking at what's lacking in your life! Or maybe you're not feeling motivated to create blogs or podcasts, but you've started a new job that you love and just need to find a groove with your new schedule.
Instead of feeling GUILTY on top of the fact that you're not feeling motivated, take a step back and realize that this too shall pass, my dear grasshoppa.
2. Evaluate why this thing you're avoiding is meaningful to you.
Having a strong, convicting WHY behind everything you do in your life makes all the difference.
WHY did you start doing the thing that you're unmotivated to do (right now) in the first place?
Most people start out with a strong WHY, but when hardships come up and life gets crazy, we forget the meaning behind why we're doing what we're doing.
If you're lacking motivation to work out: WHY do you work out in the first place? Is it to help you feel strong and confident? Does it help you get rid of your anxiety and depression? Do you want to be healthier for your kids, friends, family, etc.? Think back to why you started in the first place, and channel your energy into that.
I recommend even writing a quick mission statement that you can silently (or verbally) repeat to yourself when you're tempted to skip another workout. For example: "Every time I move my body, it brings me one step closer to who I want to become: a stronger, happier person for myself and my family." Then get your booty movin. BOOM.
And sometimes, the reason you started isn't the same reason you keep going — so keep that in mind, too.
For example, if you originally started working out to lose 100 pounds and you've lost it, it's time to set a new WHY that's meaningful to you to re-gain that sense of purpose and motivation in your workouts.
3. When you commit, you're signing up to eat a sh*t sandwich.
BEAR WITH ME HERE.
I learned about the concept of the shit sandwich, I'm pretty sure through The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, but most vividly remember it through Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic (both highly recommended!)
Here's what a shit sandwich is: when you commit to doing something (starting a business, getting in shape, getting married, starting a family), they all start off fun and exciting and new and fresh. But inevitably, hardships will come up that will make you question whether or not this is right for you. That's why, when you sign up for *said thing*, you're committing to the good AND bad (in sickness and in health, amen), and you're willing to eat the shit sandwich every day for the things you love the most.
I'll let Liz Gilbert explain it more eloquently:
“What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich?” What Manson means is that every single pursuit—no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem—comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects. As Manson writes with profound wisdom: “Everything sucks, some of the time.” You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much “What are you passionate about?” The question is “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?” Manson explains it this way: “If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands, of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the eighty-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you.” Because if you love and want something enough—whatever it is—then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it.”
CAN I JUST SCREAM THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS?!?!?!? Ugh. Such gold.
So, what's the 'shit sandwich' in what you committed to doing?
For getting in shape, the shit sandwich may be making it to the gym, prepping your food, going to bed earlier instead of partying, etc. (although social media would have you believe you can be ripped and shredded in 3 easy minutes with THIS SPECIAL UNICORN DIET!!!!)
For starting a business, it can be creating content (sitting down to write a blog ain't easy, y'all), running social media, being a responsible human and managing your finances, filling taxes, the 'unsexy' side of running a business (although social media wants you to think it's all about drinking mai tais on the beach)
4. DISCIPLINE EQUALS FREEDOM.
I stole this quote from my boy Jocko Willink, an ex Navy Seal (he has a podcast if you're interested). He says that the more discipline you create in your life, the more freedom you ultimately have.
I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out:
There are probably some things in your life that you know will help you reach your goals, that you don't necessarily *want* to do (hello, shit sandwich). That could be working out, writing a blog, spending time with someone, making a phone call, having a meeting, anything you've been putting off.
Now let's say that instead of writing it on your to-do list for the 925398th day in a row, you actually scheduled it in for tomorrow:
Work out: 7 am
Blog post: 8 am
And low and behold, the two things that have been on your to-do list for weeks now are DONE.
Now you actually have FREE time tomorrow that you can enjoy without guilt.
Or let's say you want to get better control of your finances, so you decide to create a budget (this is a big one!!!). Sure, at first it may feel restricting when you realize you can't get your Mocha Frappa Latte Cappuccino at Starbucks today, but it will feel damn good when you've saved $5/day, $35/week, $140/month, and in 6 months, you're lying on the beach sipping a margarita thanks to all the money you've saved from your budget.
So while it may seem restrictive to schedule out your daily activities, create a budget, track your workouts — these are the disciplined habits that actually create freedom in our lives. It's just a matter of delaying the instant gratification that we all know and love, in favor of a longer-term, more favorable outcome (hello, hot bod & vacation!)
You got this, boo.
Motivation will come and go. You can't rely on motivation to keep you going through the tough parts of your life — you must create strong, disciplined habits for that.
But if you're in a stage of feeling unmotivated, understand that it's NORMAL, you are HUMAN and by using the tips above, you'll be back on your A-game in no time, sista!
And most importantly, everything you do (even the things you love the most) come along with a nice, hearty, shit sandwich.
What are you willing to eat a shit sandwich for? :)