How to Beat a Motivation Slump

Written by on January 27, 2020 in Perseverance, Self-Determination

At just a couple of weeks into a New Year, it may seem odd to be talking about overcoming discouragement or a motivation slump, but the statistics paint a pretty clear picture.

On average, less than 25% of those who set resolutions and goals at the beginning of a new year actually remain committed after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.

Given that grim statistic, I think it’s surprising that the one area most often overlooked when setting new goals is having a plan in place to manage periods of discouragement and waning motivation. 

Just to be clear, it’s normal to have an off day now and then when you’re tired or just need a quick boost, and there are plenty of tips and tricks to effectively address short-term dips.

However, if you find your lack of motivation lasts for more than a few days you may be on your way to a full-fledged slump.

Miss the all-important signs and before you know it you could find yourself completely off course, or worse, ready to give up.

Recognize a Motivation Slump for What It Is

The early stages of a slump are often chalked up to a timing issue – too much to do, too little energy and not enough time.

You try to convince yourself that you’ll get back on track after you take a break to play catch up.

However, that may take days, weeks, or even months; which is how the same goals pop up year after year.

There are of course things you can do to re-energize your goals and I’ve included a few strategies here, but before you take action to recharge your motivation, you need to ask yourself one very important question.

How serious are you about this goal?

There is a common tendency to set goals for one of three reasons – it sounded like a good idea at the time, external pressure from family or friends, or because it’s something you feel you should do.

This may seem obvious (unless it’s happening to you) but there is a big difference between trying to force yourself to do something and being motivated to do it as a result of genuine wants and desires.

Forcing yourself to pursue a goal, even when you realize it’s for your own good, locks you into a struggle. It’s like sitting in a car with one foot on the gas and the other foot on the break.

It burns up a lot of energy and internal resources without getting you anywhere.

Basically, you’re pitting your willpower against the deeper motivations of your subconscious mind, and willpower can only take you so far.

Strategies to Recharge Your Motivation

A slump is no different than any other setback or obstacle in life the best way to deal with it is straight on. Acknowledge your feelings, admit you’re struggling and take action. 

Create a Trigger

A trigger is simply a word or action to create a break in your attention and refocus on your goal.

If your intention is to run first thing in the morning you might set your running shoes right next to the bed so they’re the first thing you see when you get up.

Sometimes a dose of harsh reality is our greatest motivator for change.

If your doctor has urged you to lose weight for health reasons, that definitely falls under the should category so chances are you’ll struggle with some resistance.

Rather than focusing on the things you have to give up to accomplish your goal, you could create a trigger to remind you that you risk losing all the people and things that matter most to you if you fail.

Whatever your goal may be, a trigger is a way of reminding you of the reason for pursuing it in the first place and the more emotion you can connect to it the better.

Pay Attention to What You’re Saying to Yourself

Self-talk is that steady stream of internal dialogue that is likely going on in your head right this minute and it can have a huge effect on your body and mind.

The less aware you are of the things you’re saying to yourself the greater the risk of negativity draining your energy and motivation.

“There’s no use, why am I even trying?” “I’ll never be as good at this as …” “This is too complicated.”

Studies have linked negative and self-defeating self-talk to higher levels of stress, low self-esteem, discouragement, self-depreciation, and loss of motivation.

Don’t rely on others to encourage you, encourage yourself with a generous dose of compassion and positive self-talk.

Surround Yourself with Success

Success stories can be great for boosting motivation.

Look for stories about people with similar backgrounds, or who have overcome great odds to accomplish the same goals you’re working toward.

I am especially drawn to stories of everyday heroes who inspire us to just be grateful and appreciate our challenges for the opportunities for growth they provide us.

If you find yourself waiting for someone else to encourage you, or kick your butt to get going, then maybe it’s time for you to kick your own butt a little and work on motivating yourself.
~Marquita Herald

Celebrate Small Wins

Most progress is made in small increments rather than big impressive advancements. Every day you stick to your goal is a small win, hang in there for a full week and that’s a milestone! 

Not only does it feel good to celebrate your progress, but it helps to keep you pumped up and energized on those less-than-motivated days.

Adopt a Motto or Theme

Consider creating a motto or theme based on your values and most important goals.

My go-to motto for tough goals is “How Bad Do You Want It?” and my overall theme for this year is PATHWAYS as a reminder that there is always more than one way to reach my dreams and goals.

A well thought out motto will inspire you to take action, to overcome obstacles and live up to your highest self.

Measure Your Progress

Measuring your progress not only keeps you focused it will also make it easier to recognize what is or isn’t working so you can make adjustments along the way. 

Even if you aren’t making the progress you had initially hoped for, you’re still learning and growing and that’s also worth celebrating.

Take Action Now

Whatever you desire to achieve, change, or fix in your life if you are serious about making it your reality you have to get moving.

Slow is okay, just keep going and work on building momentum.

The whole point is to just do something. Every. Single. Day.

Don’t wait. Start right now.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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  1. When I read your article, I really felt like you were directly talking to me. I really appreciate your thoughts: I wont’t forget to celebrate small wins, and also to motivated myself especially on the days which are the hardest. Thank you !

  2. Phoenicia says:

    Encouraging post Marquita!

    It is all too easy to make goals but ensuring we carry them through is a different ball game. It is possible that one is over enthusiastic and sets goals that are unachievable in a particular time frame. Failing at the first hurdle will only leave you defeated and despondent.

    I agree that your goals must be what you deeply desire and not simply an achievement you think you ought to make.