The two approaches to tackling low motivation

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Lack of drive is often the only thing standing between us and acting on our goals. When this happens we feel as if we have run out of our internal fuel source and can’t make a single step forward.

Motivation is also the last line of defense in the crucial moment when we are so close to give up.

Anyone can go through days like this…

It was an extremely busy time for us at the end of last year. On top of all other projects and things going on in our lives, we were getting close to realizing an old dream of ours – writing and publishing a book about goal-setting. In short, it wasn’t a cakewalk. We were simply overwhelmed with the many and unexpected obstacles along the way.

There were some moments when we had to force ourselves to keep going on. We were about to drop the ball and that wasn’t something typical of us.

Our friends and family were impressed by how we were juggling the whole thing. But few would guess what the force pushing us forward was. Namely, the enormous resolve we had.

How to go on carrying such a load

It’s all about how you perform under the pressure of the burden’s weight and not at all how heavy it is.

If you come to this understanding, you will start viewing the work on your objectives in a completely different way. For you, it will no longer be some impossibly hard task, but a series of regular advancements on the road towards your dream. This kind of attitude can become an unlimited source of inspiration for you.

And it can significantly lessen the burden of hard work taking much of it off your shoulders.

Our approach

There are many and various definitions of the state of motivation. In the field of personal development, these are listed as internal or external motivation, fear of failure, fear of success and whatnot.

We, however, try to look at it from another angle and as a result, these are the two things that come to the forefront:

  • The solid answer to the “Why” question;
  • Channeling the enormous energy unlocked by it.

# 1: The “Why” question

In the “GoalBuddy” system it is answered at the vision level.

We keep asking ourselves what we want to achieve in the long run throughout the process of setting up the targets for the most important aspects of our lives. In doing so, the deep-lying rationalization will come up to the surface making it indispensable part throughout our journey.

When you want something and you are 100% sure why it is so then the rest is nothing more than small potatoes.

A clear and focused vision does two things for us.

The power of writing things down

First and the obvious – when thoughts and ideas are written down you can always go back and review them. It will remind you of the logic of and the reasoning for your endeavor.

The regular nature of the review process plays a crucial role to stop you from giving up and will keep you fully on track.

The power of the goals when aligned with your vision

Every quarter we outline new objectives. However, they are not arbitrary or done on a whim. These are the steps that bring us closer to our objective. While we define our next batch of 90-day goals we have to be constantly reminded “Why” we are doing it. Answering this question transforms planning our actions into a smooth and easy task.

The sound reasoning behind each specific purpose makes it inspiring and energizing. Being aware that we are making considerable progress injects every 90 days yet another dose of the great feeling we are on the right track.

Energy and motivation

In the book “The Power of Full Engagement”[1], the authors bring up the concept that we don’t need so much time management but instead a way to control and preserve our energy.

This is not a new idea, but today we consider it is more relevant than ever.

And if you think about it – the quite dynamic modern life can easily suck you in without leaving much of an opportunity to pursue your higher aspirations. It’s even harder when you are so overworked that you haven’t had enough sleep for weeks and keep having snacks on the fly instead of normal meals.

You don’t need more time than you already have, nor some additional will power. All you need is a larger source of energy.

How to recharge

There are several types of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

The more you have of these in reserve the more you can spend whenever you find yourself in trouble.

# 1 Physical stamina

There is this very counterintuitive rule – if you think that you are exhausted it is best to get up and go for some sort of physical exercise.

Feeling spent is often only in our heads.  The best way to relieve stress and overcome this mental fatigue is to get your body moving, i.e. any exercise will do, even a short walk outside.

Our experience

It’s mid-afternoon and Ivan has been mindlessly staring at the screen of his computer for almost half an hour.

That’s far from being productive. But it is also the right moment to get out of the office and go for some workout at the gym. Yes, it’s not easy and he has to force himself (well, he had already booked the instructor for a full hour). And he knows very well how he will feel after – going from “I will hardly survive the end of the day” to “Let’s see what else I can do today!”

Niki, on the other hand, prefers going to the gym during the lunch break. What it does for him is to “restart” the day so that he goes back to the office feeling renewed and ready to do more work.

It’s different for everyone, but one thing is for sure – revving up your body does the same for your mind.

A vision for health

In practice, many and various factors contribute to our physical stamina – exercise, good sleep, and a balanced diet.

These, in turn, affect our tenacity and ability to act energetically and with determination. Therefore, it is essential to have a well-defined vision for health and to work on it, setting objectives to improve in all of its aspects.

# 2 Mental toughness

That’s the type of energy that allows your mind to perform like clockwork.

It also affects how well we keep our feelings and thoughts aligned and in harmony. The information we choose to take in helps us generate ideas and can “wire” our brains in a very specific way. Therefore it is paramount to keep our mind healthy as well as busy and well-rested.

Non-stop learning

You should stay well-informed of all the new developments in your profession. This process will help you maintain and expand the capacity of your mental power. Ivan does it in a variety of ways – books (including electronic and audio), podcasts, online training, and conferences.

Taking a break

Niki, on the other hand, prefers to take a “mental break”. When he feels exhausted he stops doing anything for 20-30 minutes. It could be either to change the set (such as leaving office and going home to finish work from there) or a short meditation session. Any of these allows him to replenish and start anew.

# 3 Emotional resilience

This third type of energy comes from socialization, family and friends, our hobbies and vacations. You would know you are running short of it when people around start suggesting “Why don’t you take some time off and go on a trip or vacation!”

Cracking a smile!

Niki has a little trick up in his sleeve – he never misses the opportunity to smile.

Often it may happen when you talk to a friend. But mostly it is the people closest to your heart who make the day brighter for you. And vice versa – if you talk to them and they smile then it means you made their day too.

# 4 Spiritual awareness

We don’t necessarily mean religion here – we are talking about something else.

It is the capacity to nourish your spirit and rise above the small and trivial issues and problems of everyday life.

What is good for us?

Niki likes things like yoga and meditation because they give him a more focused perspective on life in general. He started doing these around 10 years ago. Today is the 657th day he has been practicing meditation. This is a perfect example of a well-executed goal for a habit!

The acts of helping others

There is another type of behavior that we both like to engage in. We try to do a favor or some other thing of value to those around us without expecting anything in return.

It can take the form of charity or some volunteer work for a given cause.

In our case, it is “GoalBuddy” which is our mission to help people fulfill their dreams and have happier lives. Our efforts are being paid off with the feeling that we are creating and giving back something of good value. Nothing else can compare to this feeling of having meaning and purpose in our lives.

Some skills are more helpful than others

You can boost your motivation if you improve some specific skills to achieve goals. These allow you to go after what matters most, the ability to say “No”, and employing the “Who Strategy” when looking for help.

In addition, you can refine the process of choosing your direction in a way that will bring in most progress.

You have to keep moving – to take the next step and thus keep the momentum of success.

Let the motivation be with you!

So, we looked at both strategies. The first one is all about how writing the vision gives us a great deal. And the second is how to recharge ourselves in terms of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy.

If you are interested and want to learn more about this you should keep checking out the articles and podcasts that come out every week. And as of last December, you can find our book, “The 4 Keys to Achieving Goals”. Thank you and see you soon!


[1] We refer to the book “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

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