Has your motivation left you? Four ways to win it back

January is the National Association of Professional Organizers’ Get Organized Month. The timing makes sense as many people tend to be focused on resolutions, goals, and ambitions at the beginning of the year. But, in addition to the calendar year changing, holidays, your birthday, and even the change in seasons are great times to focus on the things you’d like to accomplish and begin implementing a plan of attack.

Still, even with the best intentions, you might find yourself struggling to stay in touch with your usually motivated self. You didn’t mean for things to end up this way, they just did. In fact, you most likely started out with an abundance of enthusiasm. You were in sync with the part of yourself that was feeling particularly inspired. And, then one day you realized that you sort of drifted apart. You started putting those important goals aside until you didn’t feel like doing them anymore. Your motivation simply got up and left.

For most of us, the break up with the positive feelings that keep us pushing toward a goal is not uncommon. We even know when it’s going to happen. A new study conducted by Andrea Bonezzi, assistant marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business et al. appears to back this up:

Whether you have a business goal of increasing market share, hope to lose 20 pounds, or have vowed to read Moby Dick, you may have noticed that somewhere around midway to your goal, motivation wanes … this sort of fourth-inning slump is a common, predictable pattern.

The author goes on to say that if your starting and ending points seem very distant from each other, you’re likely to “lose motivation to keep working toward that goal.” What should you do if your motivation deserts you? Though you might be feeling the burdensome weight of a (seemingly) irreparable relationship with your formerly motivated self, there are specific actions you can take win your motivation back.

The first step, of course, is to recognize that feeling less eager to complete a task may very well happen. Life’s little (and big) adventures can sometimes leave you feeling discouraged. But, since you know this ahead of time, you can:

Make a solid plan

By now, you’ve read some of our posts that suggest you break your goals (especially the big, hairy ones) into manageable, attainable chunks. To fortify your resolve and keep moving positively toward your goal, why not also include mini trophies for each milestone you reach or task you accomplish? Knowing that you have something to look forward at various points in your journey can help you stay motivated. You might choose to have different rewards for small steps and a large one when you’ve reached the finish line.

Join a program or support group

Think you need a bit more support to get your motivation back even though you have a well crafted plan? There is truth to there being strength in numbers, so consider seeking the support of others. You may want to take a look at Peter Walsh’s 31 Days to Get Organized challenge. He has been sharing daily organizing tips on his Facebook page ranging from getting control of kids toys to tackling paper piles. Since many of his tips are recorded, you can watch them whenever you need to on YouTube. In the Unclutterer Forums, we have an active group of people who are trying this challenge and writing about their successes and hiccups in our community. The discussion is Peter Walsh’s January Organizing Challenge, if you’re interested in participating.

The Apartment Therapy January Home Cure (daily tips and ideas to stay motivated) is coming a close soon, but you can still sign up and see all the Cure assignments. They will also be offering another Cure later in the year, but, in the meantime, check out the companion book, Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure. Again, we have a group in the Unclutterer Forums discussing their progress in this program in the discussion January Home Cure.

Use resources that you’ve had success with in the past

If you’ve ever read a book or blog post or even listened to a podcast that left you feeling ready to conquer your projects, dust them off and give them a second look. Chances are, if they worked for you in the past, they’re likely to work for you again. Of course, you can check out some of our previous posts on what to do when you just don’t feel very inspired. You can also hop on over to the Unclutterer Forum to share your experiences.

Take something off your plate

I’ve discovered that sometimes my motivation goes on walkabout when I have said “yes” one time too many. I want to be helpful, but more than that, I want to make sure that when I do say yes, I can do my absolute best. Feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed can increase when you feel pulled in too many directions. Take a look at your responsibilities to see if there is something you can share or pass on to someone else entirely. You’ll breathe a little easier and will probably start feeling more positive.

Though you may not feel as enthusiastic about your goals as you did at the outset, don’t give up. Revise your plan and look for ways you can keep your spirits and motivation high.

4 Comments for “Has your motivation left you? Four ways to win it back”

  1. posted by Alice F. on

    I’d appreciate advice on giving yourself rewards. I like this advice in theory, but I have a hard time coming up with things other than buying myself something (which would cost money and potentially add to my clutter) or doing an activity that I’d do anyway (like going to see a movie). If this has worked for you, what sorts of rewards did you give yourself?

  2. posted by Deb Lee on

    Hi Alice – Your reward can be something that you experience. I know someone who “took the weekend off” and her partner helped by managing the household chores for those two days while she spent time with friends and caught up on some reading. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be meaningful to you.

  3. posted by Lesley on

    Hi, Alice. I’ve had this same problem. But I’ve been so busy that I began neglecting some things like pedicures, manicures, facials, highlights, etc. My newest rewards are now these personal luxuries. Not too expensive, and definitely a “yay me!”

  4. posted by Whitney on

    I like small rewards. Like buying a newspaper and a latte and relaxing in a cafe instead of reading online and making my own coffee while also cleaning up the kitchen. Costs $5, doesn’t bring anything home, and feels like a treat to me.

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