Published on June 15th, 2019
Everybody knows the feeling when suddenly motivation drops. You don't feel hunger nor thirst, just lying in bed or sitting on the couch is enough. In fact, you don't want to do anything at all. You want to be alone because something has happened which hit you hard on an emotional level. These strikes could be caused by stressful work or just realizing something isn't going to work out as you thought it would be.
Handling the drops
When losing motivation I do not only lose the will to do anything, I also get into a bad mood, which reinforces my willing to not do anything again - a catch-22! When I am in this situation I try to concentrate on my thoughts for a while. Often my head is full of depressing and fearful thoughts, resolving from memories combined with dystopian scenarios. Usually, most of the thoughts point in the same direction:
"I will never be able to do this! How on Earth did I have the idea, to have even the remotest chance in succeeding of what I dream to achieve? It's not worth to invest any more energy in a failed project."
I found two ways to end this situation and get back on track. One possible solution is to have someone who deeply cares about you. For me, this person is my girlfriend. She is always encouraging me to keep going. If it wasn't for her I would have given up many times already. The other option is to take a break from what initially caused me to get in a demotivating mood in the first place. Going for a walk or run are my activities to do for ordering my thoughts. Also sometimes thinking about a problem itself over and over is not going to give me any breakthrough. So whenever I am not gaining any more insights into my problem, I start doing things which distract me a while. Reading, playing video games or hanging out with friends are perfect options to gain some peace of mind. After a few hours, I am calmed down and able to put emotions aside to start another problem-tackling session from a rational point of view.
Don't treat symptoms, treat the cause!
I believe in the saying 'the right way is not always the simplest one', and therefore when I push myself, it's natural to get anxious sometimes. In fact, I believe, by pushing our comfort zone to its limit, we start to grow as an individual. Still, when you get into these situations a couple of times caused by the same thing over and over again, it might be worth a thought if those motivation-breakdowns are just symptoms of a bigger disease. Treating symptoms might work for a while, but in the long run, you have to know the underlying cause to cure the disease once and for all.
Quitting toxic relationships
When I was writing this post, I had to deal with a client who only wants to pay 50% of the bill he owes me. I already had several 'motivation-breakdowns' because of him - the symptoms. On the other hand, he was one of my major clients and I haven't had a plan-B to compensate for the lost money yet. It was likely he would continue to pay me for any work I would do from now on, but I didn't trust him any more. Also, I had a feeling that the work for this specific client would be really stressful and therefore could end up in a new 'motivation-breakdown' soon. I cancelled this toxic relationship by stopping to treat the symptoms but getting rid of the cause - the client.
Natural ups and downs
Since I quit the relationship with the problematic client 6 months have passed. I did have less motivational downs and I do enjoy my work nowadays much more than at the start of this year. Quitting a toxic relationship was the cause of my struggles, but it isn't necessarily the same for you. That being said: I still have got some downs, but they don't seem to be caused by a single cause. In fact, it's quite normal to have some bad days. Imagine if we would always have good days. Since those days would be good by default we wouldn't notice the good days as good but as default and therefore we would not appreciate them.
We all have to deal with motivation struggles on some days, but we can do everything to avoid major downs by getting rid of the cause. I am still bothered by the feeling of having 'wasted' a whole day when I am not motivated to do much. Small habits may be the answer to prevent this feeling, but that's a story for another post.
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