Staying motivated 24/7 is a challenge in itself, let alone staying motivated when you’re struggling. But there’s always going to be difficult times. It’s unavoidable! Whether that’s down to a breakup, self-doubt or a global health epidemic like we’re in today! Regardless of this, you have to keep pushing through. Time doesn’t stand still for anyone, so you can’t put your life on hold, waiting for ‘better days.’
Instead, you have to take control, address the things that you can change, do the things that will help to make things easier and then keep making progress. Staying motivated when you’re struggling is actually what will get you through those dark moments, because it’s the shift in focus that you need.
So how do we actually do it? Well, everyone’s different, which means different things will work better for different people. But, here’s a few things you can try.
Seven Steps To Staying Motivated When You’re Struggling
1. Have More Structure in Your Day
Right now you probably don’t feel yourself. Everyday tasks may seem like a struggle, so doing things that are productive and require your concentration, are definitely going to be much harder!
This is why you can’t just leave it down to your mind. You have to have a little more structure in your day if you want to stay motivated when you’re feeling low. This will encourage you to stay on track. It will also give you a little more guidance. And of course, help to reduce overwhelm.
Try mapping out a plan for your day, either the night before or first thing in the morning. Write down what you need to get done and then put it in order – know what you’ll be doing from one thing to the next.
Add in ‘wellbeing breaks’ if you need. So a little gentle walk, out in the fresh air to break up the day during lunchtime, would actually be very beneficial. Just make sure, when you do get back to work then, you do so with the same focus.
Whatever’s bothering you, I want you to deal with it. But there has to be a time and place for it. Allowing this to take over during the day – and stop you from doing the things you know you need to do – will only make you feel worse. So keep your work separate from your personal life and have set times where you will work on work, and work on you.
2. Use Lists
Now I am a huge list-lover. But that’s because not only do they help you to get more done, but it also feels so damn satisfying when you can tick tasks off. Lists will help you with staying motivated when you’re struggling, because they encourage productivity and reduce distractions.
The key to using lists effectively is to not cram every single thing onto one list. That will become overwhelming. If you are doing this just to get the tasks out of your head and onto paper (phew!) then keep this as your master list… then break it down further. Don’t try to take on everything in one go.
Instead, have a daily list. Split this into your top three priorities, which you will list at the top. These are the big boys that you HAVE to get done at some point in the day. (I recommend doing these earlier rather than later to ensure procrastination doesn’t set in and you end up missing them!) You can map these into your daily plan to ensure they are completed.
Then, below these, you can then have the other tasks you want to do. There may be more on there than is feasibly possible to complete, but as long as your priority tasks are done, anything below that is just a bonus (and will give you an extra boost of satisfaction!)
At the end of the day, always review your to-do-list. Feel proud of what you’ve accomplished and then map out what you want to get done the following day. This leads me onto my next point…
3. Give Yourself Some Credit
If you’re sticking to some sort of work routine, and are completing all your priority tasks, feel damn proud about that. Even if you’ve not done every single thing you’d usually do if you were feeling completely on form, feel happy with what you have completed. Because I know it’s not always easy. In fact, it would be far easier to give up or use this as an excuse. But that’s not you.
This tough time won’t last, but if you can carry on making some sort of progress despite it, that is genuinely a real achievement. So give yourself a little credit for it. Don’t be hard on the things you haven’t done, and instead appreciate what you have.
A little kindness goes a long way, and that starts with being kind to ourselves.
4. If You Need a Break, Take One
Just like a lunchtime walk will help, you’re actually better to stop and take breaks when you need them instead of carrying on a trudging through if you’re just in an unproductive state. We’re not invincible. There’s going to be times where we let our emotions get the better of us, or just get a little distracted. But we can get it back on track, so long as we break the pattern.
Instead of getting yourself worked up and getting frustrated, take 10 minutes, stand up and move. Get out of the state you’re in. And then get back to your work again with a new sense of focus.
You’re not running away from your problems or giving up. You’re giving your brain a little breather so that it can try again. Regular breaks for this reason are actually a good idea anyway.
Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks helps to refresh the mind, replenish your mental resources, and enables you to become more creative. Here’s a little science behind it if you’re still unsure.
So you see? You don’t have to be all go, go, go. Breaks can help with staying motivated, especially when you’re struggling. It’s just about working smart and looking after yourself in the process.
5. Continue Working On Your Mindset
If you want to, you can let things get on top of you. You can tell yourself you can’t do this, and everythings just too much for you to deal with right now. You let yourself off the hook in a way, because you justify it.
However if you want to stay motivated when you’re struggling, you have to give yourself a bit of a talking to when this kind of negativity takes over. You have to say,
“Yes, this sucks right now. But I’m not going to let it beat me. I’m going to get through one day at a time. But I am going to make sure I get through it. I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to keep achieving. Even if it’s just with little baby steps of progress. I will not let this beat me.”
Attitude is everything and you have to not only adopt the right mindset, but get it back at times where it may be slipping. You’re stronger than you think you know.
6. Find What Helps, And What Doesn’t
So maybe your working environment makes a difference, maybe your morning self-care routine can prove to be beneficial, or the music that you play, can kind of help. For example, binaural beats are said to help with concentration. You could also create a motivational playlist to listen to before you start working, to get you into a better state.
You see, there’s actually a lot of things you can do to help with motivation. You just have to first look specifically at where your challenges lie.
Are you getting distracted too easily? Your mind constantly drifting back to whatever is worrying you? Or is it a case that you can’t even find that motivation to begin with? Do you have the drive within you? Or is that something you’re struggling to find at all?
The better you can understand how exactly it is that you feel, the better you can try different ‘remedies’ if you like, that will help with staying motivated when you’re struggling. There’s not a ‘one size’ fits all, like I mentioned at the beginning. So you must analyse your situation, getting as clear and specific as you can, then work your way around it from there.
7. Keep The End Goal In Mind
Life may not be ideal right now, but that’s even more reason for staying motivated when you’re struggling. You’re working towards something positive and it’s offering the ‘light and the end of the tunnel.’ It’s a reason to have hope so don’t let go of that.
Or, let’s say you’re not working on anything big. You’re just working because you have to. Remember why it’s so important. Whatever’s going on, you can’t afford to lose your job over it, so doing the best that you can in what you can, should offer just as much as a drive.
If it doesn’t, maybe you’re not thinking clearly, or maybe you need to look to find something that you’re truly passionate about! There are opportunities within any challenges. Really they are. Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find them. But now might actually be a good time to assess where you’re at and where you really want to be… Then use the ‘dream’ outcome as the fuel to your fire.
Let’s Round Things Up…
Whatever’s going on right now, I know it’s hard, but it’s only temporary. Nothing stays the same forever, so this too, will not last. Let that be a source of comfort, then shift your focus onto the things that will support and drive you so that you can keep staying motivated, even when you’re struggling.
Remember, we may not always get the results we want straight away. If life was that easy, we’d all be right where we want to be, but with no challenges, no growth and no real reward. But you can find ways around anything, to still get to where you ultimately want to be. Even if that means taking a different direction or heading down a new, unexpected path.
We’re all on this incredible journey that is called life. And you can make it as wild as wonderful as you want to – so long as you keep pushing forward!
So don’t give up my friends. You’ve got this, okay?
Sending all my support and encouragement!