Blog #18 – 7 Things That Drain Your Motivation and How to Beat Them
August 20, 2017.A Sunday.
So I have identified 7 things that drain your motivation in sort of a sneaky way, and how to beat them. Because the thing with demotivation is that it is closely connected to how you feel, which means that most of the time you can’t rationalise your way out of it.
You either have to trick your mind, or identify the cause and remove it.
You may not think that fear is at play, but it is. Because pushing your boundaries and breaking new ground is a daunting thing. At least from your brain’s point of view, and it shows itself in the form of a subtle anxiety in an attempt to slow you down and keep you in the safe zone.
So, be honest with yourself.
Identify the fear(s) that may be holding you back, even if only a little.
And when you have found them, you are aware of them. That’s half the battle. And the best way to win the other half is to just do it anyways.
But how do you get yourself to do that?
A short and quick fix is thinking “Risk has its rewards” which makes you feel like an Indiana Jones-type of person, about to get some rewards for being such an Indiana Jones-type of person.
It works surprisingly well!
A longer, but more thorough route could be “Fear Setting,” as explained by Tim Ferris in his 2017 TED talk which I wrote a post about. In short, you just make a list of the worst things that could happen if you do the thing you’re thinking about doing, and then make a list of things to do to prevent those from happening, and what you are going to do if they do.
This way you work through the scenarios mentally which makes you feel prepared (and relieved, because you’re awesome).
And ready to get to it.
#2 Not really believing in the chosen path
Everything we do, we do because we want to accomplish something. Or at least that’s what we think. But in reality, we do something because we feel an urge to do it. We feel motivated to do it. We feel compelled to do it. We just get this spark of energy from nowhere. Or we drag ourselves to do it (because we feel that we must).
The thing here is that to keep yourself feeling motivated, your intuition has to believe in your chosen path.
This is what I wrote on the subject on Instagram a few weeks ago:
“The big secret to staying motivated in your effort is for you to really believe that you can achieve that goal – not only to have the goal itself – and for you to believe that the path you are on is the one that will take you there. Because the second you stop believing that what you are doing is the right thing, your subconscious mind will start to steer you in other directions. And the first step is making you less motivated to stay on the current one.
That is why in order to keep yourself going, all of you has to be on board.
Visualize your goals, feel your goals as they have already come true. But have a very rational approach to how you are achieving them. Because if the approach is not right, your intuition will know it and your motivation will suffer.”
So, there you have it!
#3 “The Resistance” as coined by Steven Pressfield in the book The War of Art
“The Resistance” is a very unscientific label of all things that give you anxiety about getting yourself to seeing a big project through, whether it be writing a book or starting a business. And the thing to keep in mind here (in my interpretation) is that what gives you this anxiety is often the feeling that what you do is so ridiculously important to you that should you fail, your life is over. Sort of.
This is obviously not the case.
Drop these thoughts.
And if you have a hard time dropping them (like I had, it’s not easy being a human) you can actually switch them for better ones with daily affirmations. So instead of thinking “My life may be over if [my thing] is not good enough,” repeat to yourself that “My life will truly begin when I get [my thing] done.”
Or something like that.
Point is; your subconscious is a bit stupid so it will believe anything you tell it. Keep that in mind!
But the thing Steven wants you to do is just sit your a** down and work on your thing.
Build a habit and a routine of just putting in the work – regardless of whether what you accomplish is crap or gold – and then guard that habit like the rest of your life depends on it.
Because it does.
Because it really is the routine of always getting something done that will eventually get you to your goal.
Or as Confucius said:
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”
Which brings us to number 4…
#4 Not realizing it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Setting the right expectations about when the actual win can be expected to happen is essential. As well as realizing that any big venture is just that: a big venture.
And those come in the form of marathons.
So if you believe that your new business will become profitable in a couple of months, or that you will magically produce the next bestseller over the summer, you are in for a harsh slap in the face.
Which is potentially very demotivating.
Leading you to doubt yourself as well as your chances of succeeding.
But if you realize from the beginning that accomplishing anything out of the ordinary will likely take years, you will keep yourself working towards that distant goal – and getting there – instead of quitting for the wrong reasons before you even get going.
#5 Poor quality of nutrition and not eating enough
In order for your body and mind to work properly you need to put nutrition dense food in it. And the more a certain food has been handled, the less nutrition it contains. (Hint: if the list of contents on the back looks like the periodic table – don’t eat it!).
This means that even though you are eating enough calories, your body may still be starving from a nutritional point of view.
But once you have made sure that what you do eat has nutrition in it, you also have to eat enough.
Or, preferably, you eat a lot.
You can view it like a business:
The more money you have to spend, the more things you can do. More production. More marketing. More investing. So if you eat more, the more you can accomplish because you literally have the energy to do it.
And the best way to invest that energy are in these two things:
1) Work 2) Work out
By eating “too much” while working hard and working out frequently, you will get a lot of things done – and the excess energy will be spent on building your physical stamina, while the time at the gym are giving you the perfect hormonal balance to produce better work and feeling better while doing it.
(It is also great against stress.)
So the point here is not to become fat and sit on a throne of hamburgers and think you’ve conquered Westeros. It is to raise the bar by consuming more energy.
And spending that energy.
In other words, if the body and the brain are not getting what they need to function properly, everything you do will become way harder.
And it will seem as if you lack motivation, or as if you are lazy.
But you are not.
You have just maxed out your capabilities on the current diet.
Speaking of diet, there are obviously different diets to choose from once you have managed to find food with nutrition in them. I personally function best while in ketosis, on a low-carb high-fat diet. Worth checking out.
#6 Poor quality of sleep and not sleeping enough
Good sleep – and enough of it – is natures own miracle cure for just about anything.
And the reason we get burned out, don’t heal properly or feel like zombie-turds on occasion is that sleeping is a difficult thing to get right. And the more you pressure your body and brain by working and working out, the more sleep you need to recover.
The more complex things about sleep revolve around you finding your particular rhythm (it seems we are different in this regard) and timing food/coffee/stimulants prior to bed, and finding a routine before going to bed that works for you.
As well as a routine for waking up.
I will probably write a long post on this in the future, but for now (as this post is already getting on the long side), here are the 6 main things I do to improve the quality of my sleep:
1) I sleep with a sleeping mask – by blacking out your eyes your brain thinks that it is night, and will keep the melatonin flowing in the right amounts until you wake up on your terms
2) I sleep with (custom made) earplugs – any noise disturbs the quality of your sleep, even if it doesn’t wake you up
3) I sleep with my biggest fan – I own two fans, one small and one big. The big one is perfect for getting the right temperature in the room, which is apparently important for the body to sleep well. Not sure why, but since I started to sleep in cooler conditions, I actually sleep better
4) Not eating too much before bed, best for recovery is actually to be fasting. That is to say not having eaten anything in the last three-four hours before going to sleep. It is on an empty stomach that the body best heals itself
5) Supplements – before going to bed I take some magnesium to relax the muscles, and some omega-3 for the brain recovery. If I am feeling a bit stressed (as in higher heart rate or the like) I take some zinc as well, as it stops the production of cortisol (but take too much and you won’t wake up properly)
6) Finally – I meditate for 20 minutes before going to bed. This puts my normally busy mind into a Zen-like state, perfect for just drifting away once on the pillow
And about the not sleeping enough…
The better the quality of sleep, the less time you need to spend sleeping. So the absolute best way to be Superman everyday is to sleep well and sleep enough. Which is 7-9 hours.
You do this, and you will start to feel pretty invincible pretty fast.
#7 Working too much
It’s so easy to get caught in the hustle-or-die kind of mentality that seems to be the rage these days. That you really should be working 7 days a week and getting up at 5 am no matter what. And regardless of whether you are morning person or not.
Thing is, that like point number four points out, it really is a marathon and not a sprint.
Which means that it is not about getting as much as possible done every single day, but to be running, still reasonably fresh, when you have been going for a couple years already.
That is what it takes.
You have to keep the long run in mind.
And that means finding a work/recovery-balance that allows you to still be going.
And going strong.
On a personal note, I am starting to feel that my work/recovery-balance is off. Today is a Sunday, and I have been working 10 hours already. I do it because I love it, but still I have barely had a single day off all summer, and the “weekend” I sort of created for myself last Monday and Tuesday was not enough to get me completely back in the game.
I feel it.
It affects the motivation, as well as the inherent “drive.”
So, why am I not taking my own advice? Well, I am. But not enough. And the reason for that, I think, is because the mentality of not really looking forward to time off, is also one of the main reasons why some people manage to break free from living an ordinary life.
Because if you want to live a life that most people don’t, you have to do things that most people won’t.
And most people do a lot of relaxing and not a lot of anything else.
So there is an element of just pushing forward that is essential to making big things happen. And so, finding the balance is not easy.
But worth it.
Those were my 7 best tricks on how to beat demotivation. Hope you will make good use of them, seeing things through and making things happen.
I am rooting for you!
And thank you for reading,/Filip