Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump

Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump

By Leo Babauta

Even the most motivated of us — you, me, Tony Robbins — can feel unmotivated at times. In fact, sometimes we get into such a slump that even thinking about making positive changes seems too difficult.

But it’s not hopeless: with some small steps, baby ones in fact, you can get started down the road to positive change.

Yes, I know, it seems impossible at times. You don’t feel like doing anything. I’ve been there, and in fact I still feel that way from time to time. You’re not alone. But I’ve learned a few ways to break out of a slump, and we’ll take a look at those today.

This post was inspired by reader Roy C. Carlson, who asked:

“I was wondering if you could do a piece on why it can be hard for someone to change direction and start taking control of their life. I have to say I’m in this boat and advice on getting out of my slump would be great.”

Roy is just one of many with a slump like that. Again, I feel that way sometimes myself, and in fact sometimes I struggle to motivate myself to exercise — and I’ll use that as an example of how to break out of the slump.

When I fall out of exercise, due to illness or injury or disruption from things going on in my life, it’s hard to get started again. I don’t even feel like thinking about it, sometimes. But I’ve always found a way to break out of that slump, and here are some things I’ve learned that have helped:

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  1. One Goal. Whenever I’ve been in a slump, I’ve discovered that it’s often because I have too much going on in my life. I’m trying to do too much. And it saps my energy and motivation. It’s probably the most common mistake that people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once. You cannot maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. It’s not possible — I’ve tried it many times. You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely. I know, that’s hard. Still, I speak from experience. You can always do your other goals when you’ve accomplished your One Goal.
  2. Find inspiration. Inspiration, for me, comes from others who have achieved what I want to achieve, or who are currently doing it. I read other blogs, books, magazines. I Google my goal, and read success stories. Zen Habits is just one place for inspiration, not only from me but from many readers who have achieved amazing things.
  3. Get excited. This sounds obvious, but most people don’t think about it much: if you want to break out of a slump, get yourself excited about a goal. But how can you do that when you don’t feel motivated? Well, it starts with inspiration from others (see above), but you have to take that excitement and build on it. For me, I’ve learned that by talking to my wife about it, and to others, and reading as much about it as possible, and visualizing what it would be like to be successful (seeing the benefits of the goal in my head), I get excited about a goal. Once I’ve done that, it’s just a matter of carrying that energy forward and keeping it going.
  4. Build anticipation. This will sound hard, and many people will skip this tip. But it really works. It helped me quit smoking after many failed attempts. If you find inspiration and want to do a goal, don’t start right away. Many of us will get excited and want to start today. That’s a mistake. Set a date in the future — a week or two, or even a month — and make that your Start Date. Mark it on the calendar. Get excited about that date. Make it the most important date in your life. In the meantime, start writing out a plan. And do some of the steps below. Because by delaying your start, you are building anticipation, and increasing your focus and energy for your goal.
  5. Post your goal. Print out your goal in big words. Make your goal just a few words long, like a mantra (“Exercise 15 mins. Daily”), and post it up on your wall or refrigerator. Post it at home and work. Put it on your computer desktop. You want to have big reminders about your goal, to keep your focus and keep your excitement going. A picture of your goal (like a model with sexy abs, for example) also helps.
  6. Commit publicly. None of us likes to look bad in front of others. We will go the extra mile to do something we’ve said publicly. For example, when I wanted to run my first marathon, I started writing a column about it in my local daily newspaper. The entire island of Guam (pop. 160K) knew about my goal. I couldn’t back down, and even though my motivation came and went, I stuck with it and completed it. Now, you don’t have to commit to your goal in your daily newspaper, but you can do it with friends and family and co-workers, and you can do it on your blog if you have one. And hold yourself accountable — don’t just commit once, but commit to giving progress updates to everyone every week or so.
  7. Think about it daily. If you think about your goal every day, it is much more likely to become true. To this end, posting the goal on your wall or computer desktop (as mentioned above) helps a lot. Sending yourself daily reminders also helps. And if you can commit to doing one small thing to further your goal (even just 5 minutes) every single day, your goal will almost certainly come true.
  8. Get support. It’s hard to accomplish something alone. When I decided to run my marathon, I had the help of friends and family, and I had a great running community on Guam who encouraged me at 5K races and did long runs with me. When I decided to quit smoking, I joined an online forum and that helped tremendously. And of course, my wife Eva helped every step of the way. I couldn’t have done these goals without her, or without the others who supported me. Find your support network, either in the real world or online, or both.

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  1. Realize that there’s an ebb and flow. Motivation is not a constant thing that is always there for you. It comes and goes, and comes and goes again, like the tide. But realize that while it may go away, it doesn’t do so permanently. It will come back. Just stick it out and wait for that motivation to come back. In the meantime, read about your goal (see below), ask for help (see below), and do some of the other things listed here until your motivation comes back.
  2. Stick with it. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Even if you aren’t feeling any motivation today, or this week, don’t give up. Again, that motivation will come back. Think of your goal as a long journey, and your slump is just a little bump in the road. You can’t give up with every little bump. Stay with it for the long term, ride out the ebbs and surf on the flows, and you’ll get there.
  3. Start small. Really small. If you are having a hard time getting started, it may be because you’re thinking too big. If you want to exercise, for example, you may be thinking that you have to do these intense workouts 5 days a week. No — instead, do small, tiny, baby steps. Just do 2 minutes of exercise. I know, that sounds wimpy. But it works. Commit to 2 minutes of exercise for one week. You may want to do more, but just stick to 2 minutes. It’s so easy, you can’t fail. Do it at the same time, every day. Just some crunches, 2 pushups, and some jogging in place. Once you’ve done 2 minutes a day for a week, increase it to 5, and stick with that for a week. In a month, you’ll be doing 15-20. Want to wake up early? Don’t think about waking at 5 a.m. Instead, think about waking 10 minutes earlier for a week. That’s all. Once you’ve done that, wake 10 minutes earlier than that. Baby steps.
  4. Build on small successes. Again, if you start small for a week, you’re going to be successful. You can’t fail if you start with something ridiculously easy. Who can’t exercise for 2 minutes? (If that’s you, I apologize.) And you’ll feel successful, and good about yourself. Take that successful feeling and build on it, with another baby step. Add 2-3 minutes to your exercise routine, for example. With each step (and each step should last about a week), you will feel even more successful. Make each step really, really small, and you won’t fail. After a couple of months, your tiny steps will add up to a lot of progress and a lot of success.
  5. Read about it daily. When I lose motivation, I just read a book or blog about my goal. It inspires me and reinvigorates me. For some reason, reading helps motivate and focus you on whatever you’re reading about. So read about your goal every day, if you can, especially when you’re not feeling motivated.
  6. Call for help when your motivation ebbs. Having trouble? Ask for help. Email me. Join an online forum. Get a partner to join you. Call your mom. It doesn’t matter who, just tell them your problems, and talking about it will help. Ask them for advice. Ask them to help you overcome your slump. It works.
  7. Think about the benefits, not the difficulties. One common problem is that we think about how hard something is. Exercise sounds so hard! Just thinking about it makes you tired. But instead of thinking about how hard something is, think about what you will get out of it. For example, instead of thinking about how tiring exercise can be, focus on how good you’ll feel when you’re done, and how you’ll be healthier and slimmer over the long run. The benefits of something will help energize you.
  8. Squash negative thoughts; replace them with positive ones. Along those lines, it’s important to start monitoring your thoughts. Recognize negative self-talk, which is really what’s causing your slump. Just spend a few days becoming aware of every negative thought. Then, after a few days, try squashing those negative thoughts like a bug, and then replacing them with a corresponding positive thought. Squash, “This is too hard!” and replace it with, “I can do this! If that wimp Leo can do it, so can I!” It sounds corny, but it works. Really.
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5 Surprising Tricks To Increase Your Motivation Immediately, According to Fresh Research

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5 Surprising Tricks To Increase Your Motivation Immediately, According to Fresh Research

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By Dan WangJuly 28, 201416 Comments

This is not a post to help you keep your New Years’ Resolutions.

Instead, it presents simple tips and exercises to increase your motivation, all of which you can do in the next few minutes. Researchers have discovered some quick ways to get you to be more focused and more motivated at what you do so that you can work smarter, not harder.

Some of these motivation tips take seconds to do. Some others require that you get out of your chair for a few minutes. All of them are derived from the results of recent scientific studies.

Get ready to get more done. We’ll start right now.

1. Strike a high-power pose for a jolt of confidence

Body language may be a lot more important than you imagined. It affects not just how you’re perceived by others, but also your internal body chemistry.

That’s right, holding your body in a certain position literally changes the way you are.

How does it work?

Amy Cuddy gave a TED Talk in 2012 on the significance of body language. She is a professor at the Harvard School of Business, and she presented the research she conducted with two other professors. It starts from the premise that non-verbal communication (i.e. body language) may be just as important as verbal communication. And one of the ways that you can communicate non-verbally is with a “power pose.”

There are two kinds of power poses: high and low. A high-power pose usually means having your body open rather than hunched up. That means chest out, arms spread, no slouch. Most simply, it means that you try to take up a great deal of space. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

And what does a low-power space look like? Anything that makes you small and bunched up, like this:

What happens when you strike a high-power pose?

The researchers found that simply holding a high-power pose for as little as two minutes increases your testosterone levels, which are associated with confidence, and decreases your cortisol levels, which are associated with stress.

Our bodies affect our minds. The implication is that you may be able to “fake it until you make it.” Holding high-power poses really can set you up for success.

So put that to use right now.

This is a no-tech lifehack that you can do while you sit or stand, while you’re alone or with others: Holding certain poses gives you more confidence and helps you to work better.

Stop slouching and strike a high-power pose. Lean back, put up your legs, and if you have space, make a V with your arms. You can do these while you sit or stand.

Don’t want to look weird with co-workers around you? Do this in a bathroom, or grab a meeting room and close the door.

And there are other ways to take advantage of body language research: In addition to striking high-power pose, you can focus on the position of your feet, smile more, align yourself better with your conversation partner, and lower your voice with deep breathing.

Look, these cool people are doing it:

Go ahead, open up.

2. Tell yourself that you’re going to have a fresh start

I said that this post isn’t exactly about helping you keep your New Years’ Resolutions. I stand by that.

But have you ever wondered why it is that everybody chooses January 1, of all dates, to make commitments?

Yes, it’s a new year. But it’s also an arbitrary point in the lives of most people. January 1 may be a good date to set new commitments, but it’s not much better than July 28.

And here’s the thing: If you just keep in mind that you’re going to have a fresh start, whatever the motivation, then you’re going to have a burst of energy. That’s one of the findings from a study by three professors at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers find that these “intertemporal markers” encourage us in two ways: first by making people disconnect from past failures, and second by promoting a big-picture view of life.

Why does that matter? Believing either makes us more motivated to sequester away our failures and get things done. The idea is that we think of the past as the past, that tomorrow is a totally new day.

So think of a recent event, be it a promotion, a breakup, some other special occasion, and contrive a fresh start. You’ll find it more believable than you think.

Try sitting yourself down to craft a message. Write it down and make it concrete. Here’s an example of a note that you can write, typed or by hand:

“Gosh, I complain of being busy all the time, but how much of it is spent wasted, unproductive? From now on, I’m going to make the most of the minutes every hour, and deliver my work with time to spare.”

Or, try this out:

“I’ve been putting this off for way too long; it’s long past time for me to start the business I’ve been dreaming about. I’ll start slow as a side project for now and see where it takes me. Today I’m going to make things happen.”

Believing it helps make it true.

3. Grab some chocolate – or some other dopamine-releasing reward

Here’s another low-tech hack to increase your level of motivation: Eat some chocolate. Chocolate is delicious, easily available, and most importantly, well-documented to stimulate dopamine levels in your brain.

And what is dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has stimulating effects on the brain. It plays a particular role in pleasure, cognition – and motivation.

A study has found that people who work hard, or “go-getters,” tend to have higher levels of dopamine, while “slackers” tend to have lower levels of dopamine. Meanwhile, chocolate is as effective as certain pharmaceuticals in inducing strong dopamine responses.

The effects of chocolate on the brain are well-studied. Here are some of the things that happen when you eat chocolate:

  • It increases both serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes calm, and also phenylethylamine, which promotes stimulation. White chocolate does both even more intensely.
  • It triggers a release of dopamine, which will elevate your heart rate and significantly increase motivation.
  • It also results in a mild antidepressant effect, literally because your brain responds to the stimulants by promoting blissful emotions.

Pretty cool, right?

So if you want a dopamine rush, try eating a bit of chocolate. If you’d like to maintain a good disposition, you can maintain a healthy diet consisting of dopamine-inducing foods like blueberries, spirulina, and fish high in Omega-3 fats.

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If you’d like to experience more of a high, try to find dark chocolate or white chocolate. But really, milk chocolate is quite good too.

4. Write a contract – and donate the proceeds to charity if you lose

Have you ever visited stickK.com?

It’s a platform for writing informal contracts. Put down a concrete goal, on say losing weight or on becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business, then ask a friend to monitor that you’ll get it done. Put up some money, say $50, and if you succeed, you get your money back; if you fail, then your friend donates the $50 to a charity of your choice.

StickK is an example of a commitment device, and it’s a remarkable mechanism for getting things done. Rather than a loose determination to make an abstract goal in the future, you have a concrete task to work towards on a specific date, and you lose more than your pride if you fail.

The founder of stickK is a professor of economics at Yale University who used a commitment device himself when he was a grad student. He promised to pay his friend $10,000 if he did not lose 38 lbs by a certain date. Fortunately he succeeded in shedding weight, not dollars.

Why do commitment devices work?

The logic of commitment devices like stickK is based on psychology and behavioral economics.

People tend towards hyperbolic discounting, which is a fancy way of saying that they overvalue the short run relative to the long-run. The examples are obvious: Do you sit and watch TV or go out for a run? Do you grab the fruit salad or the cheesecake for dessert?

All of us know that what’s good right now isn’t necessarily good for the long run. Commitment devices like stickK try to change this up so that choosing what feels good in the short run gets more costly.

In addition, it requires that you set a concrete goal. Instead of saying that “I’ll lose weight this year,” you’ll have to say something like “I’ll lose 20 pounds by June.” Having something specific makes the task more concrete and more actionable.

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So try it out. Create an account on stickk.com, write down a goal, and then get a friend to monitor you. (Grab a friend who will follow through with the act of donating the money to a charity, or the whole purpose may be defeated. You don’t want to have in the back of your mind the thought that you’re not going to lose out if you don’t succeed on your goal.)

If you don’t make it to your goal after all, you can feel glad that at least a charity of your choice is going to get a donation.

5. See some green

Certain colors make us think of certain things. Ever wonder why all sales signs are red, for example? It’s because people react faster and more forcefully when they see the color. People tend to associate the color red with a danger cue, and that attracts attention.

Red isn’t just associated with danger. It’s associated with attraction as well. A recent study found that simply wearing the color red makes a man more physically attractive to women. The effect is unconsciously associated with higher status and higher income.

Other studies have found that blue is associated with trust and dependability, while pink is supposed to have a more calming effect on the brain.

Now guess which color provides the biggest boost in motivation and energy?

The color green.

Researchers have found in two studies that surrounding yourself with a bit of green provides a boost in motivation; and also that a glimpse of the color green sparks creativity.

Two recent studies back that up.

The first study was published in 2012 in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology via six researchers at the University of Essex.

They asked subjects to perform three moderate-intensity cycling exercises while watching a video of a rural cycling course. The videos were randomly selected to have green, gray, or red filters. What was the result?

The red filter made the research subjects angry, while the green filter made them happier and less tired. Simply seeing lots of green made them more motivated.

The second study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology in 2012. The authors are four researchers at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

The researchers asked their subjects to write as many uses for a tin can in under two minutes, and graded them for creativity. Before each test they showed the subjects quick flashes of green, blue, white, and gray. The color that was most associated with encouraging creativity? Green.

A researcher hypothesized that seeing green makes people think of growth. It’s taken as a cue that we can improve task mastery and that we have room to grow.

These two studies suggest that seeing the color green may make you more creative and motivated. How can you act on that?

The best way to do that is to go outside for a short walk. Take a stroll in a garden, or anywhere with shrubs and greenery. Is there a local park that people around you like to have lunch at? Are there lots of trees that you can walk around? Are there at least a few patches of grass by your workplace?

Go out and walk in these places. It’s not just the color green; you’ll be a lot more motivated after a brief physical exertion and some fresh air.

Takeaways

Can motivation be hacked? These studies that draw from psychology and neuroscience suggest that there are at least a few things that you can do to boost your motivation right now, whether that’s putting yourself in a certain frame of mind or finding a quick and no-tech way to boost your levels of testosterone.

So take a break at a natural point and try one of these five tricks to boost your energy. Your work will thank you for it.

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LACK OF MOTIVATION AND ENTHUSIASM

 

Lack of Motivation and Enthusiasm

By Remez Sasson

Motivation and enthusiasm manifest as desire and interest, and as a driving force that pushes you to take action and pursue goals.

However, it often happens that you have the desire and interest, but you lack the motivation. This is a frustrating situation, since you want to do a certain thing, but cannot get enough inner strength and motivation to act.

There are many reasons for the lack of motivation. It could be due to a weak desire, laziness or shyness, and it could be due lack of self esteem and self confidence. In some cases, the reason is a physical or mental problem, which requires professional help.

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Lack of motivation and lack of enthusiasm are two of the main reasons for failure and of living a mediocre life.

You cannot blame other people if you lack the enthusiasm to act follow goals. You need to find a way to motivate yourself.

Lack of motivation and enthusiasm can show up everywhere, at home, at work, in relationships, in pursuing goals and in everything else. This often, creates indifference, unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Reasons for Lack of Motivation and Enthusiasm:

  • Lack of faith in one’s abilities.
  • Fear of failure, due to failure in the past.
  • Fear of what others might say.
  • The habit of procrastination.
  • Laziness.
  • The feeling or belief that there are other more important things to do.
  • Being too stressed or nervous.
  • Absence of enough stimuli or incentives.

The above mentioned reasons stifle motivation and enthusiasm, and are only excuses for not acting. However, you learn to overcome and disregard them, by becoming aware of them, acknowledging them, and understanding that you can change the programming of your mind.

Sometimes, there are short bursts of motivation or enthusiasm. You start acting enthusiastically, but lose interest and motivation after a while, because you find it hard to sustain motivation or enthusiasm.

If you wish to improve your life, you need to awaken motivation and enthusiasm. Tell yourself, over and again, how much you lose by their absence, and how much you gain by having them.

You need incentive and drive for following your big dreams, and also for the performance of minor daily tasks and chores. Otherwise, laziness, absence of energy and procrastination will set in.

Instead of suffering, feeling uncomfortable and passive, it would be much better to produce enough motivation to take action and do things. This will make you feel much better, happy and satisfied.

Procrastination, laziness, indifference and passivity cause unhappiness, weakness and lack of satisfaction, but being enthusiastic, motivated and active bring a sense of joy, strength and power. By getting motivated, you act, do things, take your mind off problems and difficulties and focus on finding solutions and achieving success.

Find out where you really need motivation.

This means finding out what really matters to you and what actions would bring benefits and improvement into your life and into the life of the people around you.

Think deeply, and discover what are your real goals in life, but don’t forget also to focus your attention on the little things of life, where a little motivation will help too.


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Start to overcome lack of motivation in the little, everyday affairs of life

Doing small, or not so important things, which you usually avoid doing, can help you increase your inner strength. When your inner strength grows, you will be able to push yourself to do greater things, even if you are not motivated enough.

When this happens, you will possess the ability to focus on what you want to do and awaken the energy you need.

  1. Wash the dishes, now, instead of later.
  2. Throw the garbage, now, instead of later.
  3. Turn off the TV and taking a short walk.
  4. Clean and arrange the contents of one of your drawers.
  5. Decide on a book to read and start reading, even if you want to do other things.

One more, useful exercise is to devote a few minutes a day, to visualizing yourself doing something you want to do, but lacks the enthusiasm and energy to do. In your imagination, see yourself acting enthusiastically and energetically. Rehearse with this mental scenario day after day.

This article is intended to bring you general information on motivation and the lack of it. For more information and advice, I invite you to read the other articles about motivation at this website.

 

I think that this is a  good place to start, let’s show the world what kind of stuff we are made up of.

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