Let me disabuse you of something right now: Nobody stays motivated.
That would be like a car never running out of gas, or a battery that never needs recharging. You wouldn’t turn back on a road trip the first time you needed to hit the gas pump, would you?
Not motivated? Your tank is empty. That is all. Don’t pathologize it.
‘How to stay motivated’ is the wrong question. The question is ‘how to get re-motivated.’ Forgive me as I drag out that oft-quoted American salesman Zig Zigler one more time: ‘people say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.’
Never gets old. Thanks, Zig.
Getting re-motivated may mean getting back in touch with why you’re doing something, but at times that’s not enough. It may help to watch inspirational videos or exercise. What? You’re not motivated to do that you say?
Then try letting yourself imagine what it would be like to just give up.
Picture yourself at the end of your life, and think back to when you were working to achieve whatever it is you’re trying to achieve right now. Imagine that you haven’t done it.
How will that feel?
This works as long as what you’re seeking motivation to do is something you can actually control. For example, I have an opportunity to be published. I wrote the proposal, eventually, it was accepted, I have a contract, now all I have to do is write the book.
It turns out that’s not such an easy thing to do. There have been stretches where I haven’t gone near the manuscript for a number of reasons, including just not ‘feeling motivated’.
But what keeps me coming back and stringing words together along the page like beads (that image is courtesy of Brenda Ulland) little by little, month by month is this: I don’t want to look back not having done it.
At one point, once you decided you were going to do something, whether it was starting a business, buying a house, getting a new job, living in Europe, or going to film school, you felt motivated. You knew why you wanted it. There were good reasons to make it happen. You knew it was the right thing to do.
And yet you’re not so sure anymore, because you’re not motivated. STOP. Don’t confuse decision-making with motivation. A lack of motivation by itself is never the cue to change your decision. It’s your demons talking.
The way to tell whether what you’re working on is still a good idea is to give it a brush with death.
Project into the future and stand by your own death bed. How will you feel looking back, not having achieved that goal?
Chances are when you look at it from that perspective, you’ll be remotivated to get back to work, or at least make a solid plan.