Motivation is a daily struggle. We all have those mornings when it's cold and rainy, and all you want to is stay curled up in bed. Other times, we're just mentally and physically exhausted. Then there are the times when a disastrous and unexpected moment hits you so hard that everything becomes meaningless. It could be losing a loved one or admitting to yourself that your business has failed. No matter how prepared you think you are, there's just no way around feeling devastated.
For me, it was when I realized that my business was doomed. Despite the success that my company was experiencing, I had no choice but to shut the business down. Informing my employees and becoming consumed with anxiety and stress put me on a downward spiral. Pushing myself to move forward was a challenge. To add to the stress, I had been married three months prior.
Thankfully, everything worked out. And I can attribute some of that to picking myself up and getting myself to soldier ahead. Here are a few tactics I've used to motivate myself during some of my darkest times.
Acknowledge it, accept it, and move on
Like any other problem you experience in life, you can't just hide beneath the covers and deny that there's an issue. Admit there's a problem, and accept how you're currently feeling. Once you do, you can start saying affirmations like, "This isn't going to last forever. It's only a temporary setback." After that, you can start putting together a plan to resolve this problem.
For me, I analyzed why my business failed and started planning my next business venture with the lessons I had learned, so I wouldn't repeat the mistakes I had made.
Come on, get happy
I know. When you're depressed, heartbroken, or just in a slump this sounds easier said than done. But there's a direct correlation between happiness and motivation. Simply put, when we're not in a good mood, we're more likely to procrastinate.
So, how can you trick yourself into improving your mood?
Personally, writing down everything I was grateful for, volunteering, taking a trip with my wife to the beach, and reading inspirational books all helped improve my mood. I also began to monitor any new progress I made and celebrated my small wins, such as jotting down potential business ideas and doing preliminary research so I could start my next business venture. This not only worked for me, but science also backs it. According to research from Harvard's Teresa Amabile, there is nothing more motivating than progress.
In short, start doing things that will make you happy, whether it's listening to music, going on a vacation, finding a new hobby, or spending time with uplifting people. After you improve your mood, you'll discover motivation is right around the corner.
Find a distraction
I know. I already said that you shouldn't deny that there's a problem. Embrace it. However, you need to get out of your head from time to time. That's why doing things that will make you happy can help you get out of this slump. But there are going to be times when there isn't anyone around to talk to. Or your mind is racing so fast that you can't focus on a book.
In those situations, you should do things like exercising, meditating, or learning something new. Even doing something as small as going outside in the sunlight for 20 minutes while walking the dog or pulling weeds is a sufficient-enough distraction, as well as a way to lift your spirits. And who knows? Maybe a newfound interest could lead to a new business opportunity.
I found that blogging about my struggles and sharing useful advice to budding entrepreneurs wasn't just a distraction when I was at my lowest. It was a simple trick as well that got me motivated again.
According to The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People, by David Niven:
"Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment."
Whenever I crossed off an item from my to-do list, I gave myself a reward, such as going on a vacation or going out to dinner with my friends.
Control what you can
When it seems like everything is spinning uncontrollably, you should focus on the things that are in your control. That could be anything from cleaning out those junk drawers in your kitchen, organizing your bedroom closet, talking to prospective clients, or designing an inspiring home office that encourages productivity. This sounds simple, but focusing on what you can control gives you a sense of power.
Shake things up
Sometimes the best way to get out of a slump is to give your system a shock. For example, if you're a night owl, work on becoming a morning person. If you work from home, try working from somewhere else, like a café or library, or pick up your belongings and move out of town. That's what my wife and I did after my business failed. We sold our home and moved on to greener pastures. The change of scenery was just the spark I needed to get back on my feet.
If you've tried out the suggestions above and you're still in a dark place, you may want to talk to a professional. There's no shame in that. Talking to someone outside of your inner circle can help you vent. More important, a professional can provide you with coping mechanisms to help you get through this challenging time.
After I figured out what was holding me back, I was able to move forward. Two years later, I started Due, which has become a very successful company. Had I not figured out my motivators, I would never have started.
How have you motivated yourself during a slump or bad period in your life?