It turns into hard times when you feel yourself sliding face first into a slump. You had grand plans the night before of waking up and seizing the day, slaying your to-do list, and becoming the champ you know you are — only to find yourself halfway done with the day and forgetting how to stay motivated. It always seems that the night before — while you're cozy with a pint of ice cream and the third episode of Making a Murder — you're confident that the next day will be a game changer. You'll become this Beyonce-grade hard worker, and won't stop trooping until you've accomplished your life goals in a single afternoon.
And then the laziness sets in. Or burn out creeps up on you from behind and convinces you to close your laptop. Or that nagging idea of failure sits you down for coffee and begins to convince you you should give up and put on sweatpants.
To that I say, nah girl. You can do this. Bat those thoughts away and — even though you really, really want to clock out for the day — keep on working. And I'll tell you exactly how: Below are seven tips on how to stay motivated when you're seconds away from quitting. Get ready to slay!
1. Take Responsibility For What's Doing The Demotivating
When we want to quit, we hold on to triggers or excuses like a life line. Oh you're tired? I guess it's time to push away from the desk. You have too many projects in your inbox to actually finish by five o'clock? Screw it, don't do any of them. Your work environment is blocking any creativity to finish this task? Welp, throw in the towel I guess.
Nope! Rather than succumbing to those triggers, take responsibility for what's demotivating you and change it. Motivational coach Janet Hilts explained, "Taking responsibility simply requires me to see my part in what's going on. Then I just ask myself: Do I want to change something? If so, what are some options? What action do I need to take to change things? This keeps me in a looking-forward position — focused on the future. And that draws me ahead in the direction I want to go."
If you're tired, buy yourself a fancy cup of coffee or caffeinated tea to not only give yourself a buzz but a treat. Do you have too many projects? Pick the three that are most important and only focus on those for a block of time, making you feel like the to-do list is significantly less intimidating. Is the space you're in making you feel unmotivated? Move somewhere else, or tack up some images/go-gettem-tiger quotes that will make you feel like the powerhouse worker that you are. Use these obstacles as stepping stones for a more productive afternoon.
2. List The Outcomes You Want To Achieve With The Project You're Working On
Say you're doing a task, and it's draining you to the point where you want to call it a day. To counterbalance that feeling and keep you motivated, take a pause and list three outcomes you hope to achieve with this project that has you struggling. For example, if I'm writing an article that I'm not in the mood to be creating, I think of what I hope to achieve with it as an end result. I think of how my words (hopefully) will motivate the readers that they'll reach, how my thoughts might help someone view a negative situation in a new, positive way, and how I hope that my information will add a useful, well-researched voice to the topic at hand.
And this isn't a new idea. Lifestyle writer Mihir Patkar from Lifehack pointed out, "Meier, author of Getting Results The Agile Way, advises listing three outcomes you want to achieve for each day, every day." Once you think of the positivity and benefits of completing your project, you'll regain your motivation to keep plugging away.
3. Doll Out Rewards
Chances are when you're about to quit, you have an activity in mind you want to replace that task with. Whether it's to go out to eat with your friends, go to your room and watch Netflix, or simply open up the rest of your afternoon and grab coffee, it's time for a little self-discipline. Tell yourself absolutely, you can have that self-indulgent treat. But first you need to finish X, Y, and Z.
Business writer Melyssa Griffin from entrepreneur blog Nectar Collective suggested, "Tell yourself that once you finish X, you can have/do Y. Another alternative is to reward yourself with something (like a small piece of candy) whenever you knock an item off your to-do list." Tempt yourself with that tasty burger or a cup of hot chocolate while you're in bed, and keep yourself motivated to wrap up what you're doing before you get to enjoy it. It helps to know that something nice is waiting for you after a tough task.
4. Remind Yourself How This Task Will Bring You Closer To your Goals
Give yourself a little pep talk: Break down how the task at hand is bringing you closer to your dreams. Finishing it beautifully can help you get closer to getting hired at the company you've been eyeing since college/ will help you graduate with top marks and get those honors cords/ will help you polish your business into the vision you had starting out — each of these tasks are stepping stones. So don't miss them and hit the water.
Business coach Dixie Gillaspie from Entrepreneur wrote, "If I decide that going on in the direction I’m headed will, in fact, bring me closer to a dream that still makes my heart beat a little faster I inevitably find that my heart is suddenly less weary and the siren’s call to stop all operation is muted to barely a whisper." Remind yourself why that task was on your to-do list to begin with!
5. Think About What's Awesome About The Situation
Thoughts of quitting usually revolve around negativity: You're tired, you're bored, it's sunny outside and there are so many better things you could be doing right now other than working. But instead of breaking underneath the weight of your complaints, switch the script and focus on what's awesome about your current situation.
Entrepreneur Lindi Duesenberg told self-development site Greatist, "So shifting that focus right away, just acknowledging what is good, puts you in a better mind frame to tackle the day."
Grab onto anything: You're doing work in a field you truly love/ you're building up your portfolio for better things with this task/ the coffee you're drinking at the moment is all sorts of yum/ your work will impact someone positivily/ finishing the task with top marks will make you feel super professional and like a bosslady. See, there's so much!
6. Look Up Someone Successful In Your Field
To keep that motivation running, look up articles/ podcasts/ speeches of someone in your field that made it big and loves the position they're in. Once you hear them brim over with excitement and passion over what they're doing, your task will seem less like a burden and more like the next step to get yourself closer to their position.
Lifestyle writer Rachel Nussbaum shared the thoughts of lifestyle writer Jazmine Hughes, "When you’re at your lowest point, it helps just to witness someone else be happy, to be brimming with joy, to remind you that that’s still a feeling. When you’re at your worst, look up to someone at their best, and hopefully they will bring you up with them." There's nothing more inspiring than hearing someone deeply passionate.
7. Break That Sucker Up
Finishing a 2000 word article is scary. Finishing the intro paragraph is doable. When you have a project you want to peace out on for the day, trick your brain into thinking that the task at hand actually isn't painful, and completely easy to finish. And the way to do it is to break it up into pieces you need to accomplish throughout the afternoon. It's not a daunting task, it's a to-do list.
Business contributor Suzanne Gerber suggested to Forbes, "My system involves chipping away at a project. Break it down into the smallest realistic steps and only do one at a time. Neuroscience tells us that each small success triggers the brain’s reward center, releasing feel-good chemical dopamine. This helps focus our concentration and inspires us to take another similar step." Once you finish one easy task, you'll move on to the next, and the sense of accomplishment will give you enough of a buzz to keep on going.
So don't ever throw in the towel when motivation runs low — you now have the tools to bump it back up.