3 Life Hacks for When You’re Lacking Motivation During a Challenging Time
When life gets in the way, it can be challenging to stay motivated and take action towards achieving goals. There might be things you want to accomplish but you never feel it’s the right time to start working towards them. Or you might have the time, but lack the motivation and drive when worrying about something else.
But having goals can keep us on track. It can provide a much needed distraction from negative thoughts occupying your head space. And it can generally make you feel better about life when you take control of certain things. We can’t always choose our options or the cards we’re dealt, but we can always control the choices we make.
Carving out time to work on goals that are important to you, is a little bit of self-care that we forget.
If you’re lacking enthusiasm, hope and focus, here are 3 simple hacks to boost it and maintain it during challenging times.
3 Life Hacks for Boosting Motivation
1. Swap goals for rituals
Goals can be too overwhelming to ever take action towards. For example, my main goal this year was to write a book. But saying that left me sitting for days doing nothing and wondering where to start. I could only see the end result; those 90,000 words that seemed impossible to achieve. Instead, I focused less on the end goal and made a daily ritual. My ritual was simple: write for 1 hour each morning. Whether I’d use the words written in that 1 hour for my blogs or my books, it didn’t matter. It was something I set out to do to reduce the overwhelm and create a daily writing habit.
I began attaching my ritual to an activity that I did anyway, like checking my emails each morning. Attaching a ritual to a formed behaviour makes you more likely to remember to complete it. And those small incremental changes each day add up. Consistency is key!
2. Don’t be busy, be productive
We tend to fall into this trap of believing we need to be busy to be productive. But usually the opposite is true! When we focus on less, we allow ourselves time and space to focus and do things better. We realise that everything around us is generally noise that confuses and keeps us from taking action.
In the book Essentialism, Greg McKeown talks about the need for getting clear on what is important to you. That way, you can swap the ‘trivial many’ for the ‘vital few’ and focus only on what is essential. Learn to say no to things that lack importance right now, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or lacking energy and clarity to do the things that do.
3. Create SMART goals
Like the above, I realised the goal of writing a book was too broad for me. I had nothing to measure it against or any way of knowing if I was on track. I worried more about the end result than the process, and it usually held me back from making any progress at all. Instead, I did what most of us have done since we were little. I made it a SMART goal. Smart goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
With the above book writing example, my SMART setting process looked like this:
When goals are specific, we have way more chances of achieving them. That’s because they’re direct and focused, not vague and overwhelming. I changed my general goal from writing a book to ‘write for 1 hour each morning.’
It’s specific and doesn’t cause overwhelm, thinking I needed to write a set amount of words each day. Somedays words flow out of me with ease, other days not so much. By aiming to write for 1 hour each morning, it made me more likely to achieve the overarching goal.
Once you have a specific goal in mind, it then needs to be measurable. Otherwise, how else will you know if you’re on track? I made my goal something that I could measure with questions. This reduced that wishy-washy worrying. I used questions such as ‘how much time did I spend writing this week.' Or ‘how will I know when I’ve accomplished my goal?’
By the end of each week, I was able to reflect and say ‘ok, I wrote for 6 hours this week and achieved a total of 2,000 words.”
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to have a goal that is still realistic and achievable. It needs to be a challenging goal to push you enough to grow. But also specific enough to reach it with the right steps. You need to be willing to work towards it, even on those days when you don’t feel up to it. Unless your goal is realistic, and something you can actually achieve, you’ll be too overwhelmed to even try.
I also justified that I love writing! It’s what I do every single day, for work and for fun. I knew writing a book would be an achievable goal for me. Deciding to embark on a triathlon on the other way, doesn’t drive or fulfil me. Not to mention, I struggle to balance on a bike. Achievable for me? Probably not.
It’s important to choose goals that matter to you. Goals you actually want to achieve and don’t just think you want them, because society or your friends tell you to want those things. Writing a book aligns with everything I do for BITB. I'm in creative flow when I’m blogging or creating quote snippets or sending inspirational tips via my newsletter. And writing a book is relevant to all that! Relevant goals should align to who you are as a person and contribute to your overarching goals.
Setting a timeframe is less about having an overwhelming deadline or target day. But it’s important to set a desirable timeframe so you have a sense of urgency and accountability.