When You're Not Feeling It

 

Sometimes, I don't feel like doing anything. And I mean, nothing. As in, I have a bunch of stuff on my list and not a single one calls to me. On a scale of 1 to 10, my motivation can be measured at nice solid zero. I'm sure you can relate. It happens to all of us from time to time.

So, what do you do about it?

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Back in the day when I prioritized crossing things off the list, I sucked it up and got to work. How I felt was the least of my concerns. Any thought I had that I could possibly give myself a break or postpone action was met with internal chatter like "Don't be lazy," "Tomorrow will be worse," and "Just keep grinding." I couldn't stand those thoughts in my head, so I would proceed as planned, disregarding my energy levels, and pushing through anyway.

You may be thinking, "Well, yeah. You do what you have to do." And of course, in the reality of our daily lives, there are times when this is indeed the case. But does it always have to be? Can you find the room to honor those feelings from time to time without self-flagellation?

The first thing to ask yourself is how often this is happening to you? Is it a general theme in your life, that you have a lot to do and little energy to do it? If so, this is a big red flag that you are overtaxing yourself and not allowing yourself sufficient downtime to refuel and re-energize. You are basically dragging yourself around by the bootstraps, grinding it out, feeling relief at having crossed things off the list but are no less depleted for having done so. If you've been taking this approach for a long time, you probably feel resigned to it, as though there isn't a better way. You tell yourself it is "fine" and "okay" and you'll just have to keep doing it.

But there is a better way. Take some time to reflect on these two points:

#1: Consider that your lack of motivation may have more to do with misaligned energy than fear and avoidance. The truth is that we are rarely motivated to do things that force us outside of our comfort zone. Things of that nature really do require action even when you don't feel like it or you'll stagnate. When your energy is misaligned, however, you may need to find ways to honor your need to refuel rather than accomplish your to-do list. Lack of motivation sets in quickly if you are always doing what you should do and rarely what you want to do. If, at that particular time, there is truly no way to slow down, then be proactive about getting out your calendar and scheduling your downtime. For real. In fact, if you make a habit of scheduling downtime that's just for you, you can look forward to it on the days when you know you need to keep moving, and you'll find that making a habit of scheduled downtime alleviates your lack of motivation on the days you have a lot to do.

#2: Avoid berating yourself. When you're not feeling and it and the mental chatter starts up, shut it down. Go back to #1 and determine why you're avoiding action, honor your feelings—whether it's because you're scared or because you need to re-energize—then come up with your plan for either a) taking the inspired action that will take you out of your comfort zone even if you don't feel like it, or b) take some downtime or make sure to schedule it so you're not running on empty.