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10 Practical Tips for Taking Action When You Don’t Feel Like It

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how to take action when you don't feel like it

We’ve all been there at some point. There is a task ahead of us, we need to get to it and complete it, but we just don’t feel like it. We need to get off the bed, pick up the phone, and ring our doctor for an appointment. There’s a social event coming up and there are a million other things we’d rather be doing, such as shoveling in ice-cream and watching reruns of Friends.

It’s all okay. It’s all understandable. There are too many factors that can contribute to a lack of motivation or willingness to do something for us to avoid all of them. Now and then, it’s established that this is something that happens, more or less, to all of us. One question prevails, though: How can we overcome this general lack of motivation?

Here are 10 practical tips for taking action when you don’t feel like it:

1. Localize the problem

A good starting point is to uncover what it is exactly that’s making you avoid doing a certain something. In most cases, it’s because the task at hand is unpleasant or because we dread going to it. In other instances, it could be because the initial excitement has washed away and you’re stuck in the most difficult part – the middle.

“Life is in different stages. Every stage of life is the foundation for the next stage of life. Every stage of life must be fully-lived” – Lailah Gifty Akita

2. Set up the stage

Now that you found the catalyst, work towards combating it by making your task impossible to avoid. Clean out your entire schedule, do everything else you could possibly do first, and then you’ll end up stuck with this one thing and nothing else.

 

3. Keep the end result in mind

If we’re talking about something like making an unwanted call or going to an unpleasant meeting, thinking about the long game greatly helps. Just think about how short a phone call is and how it won’t matter at all a few minutes later. If you can’t get yourself motivated or to genuinely want to do this thing, just look forward to it ending instead.

 

4. Find motivation

Not in the literal sense. If we were able to get motivated on cue then we wouldn’t have a problem that needs to be solved by the tips in this article, right? Real motivation is finding this little spark that might trigger your desire to take the action. Set your eyes on someone that inspires you and use this admiration as a starting point. Pick out the positives from a task and focus on them to build excitement.

 

5. Show commitment

The keyword here is show commitment. If you’re a person that values the opinions and views of others, your biggest advantage might be putting your goal out there for the world to see. If you want to lose weight, for example, publish a post announcing your intention on social media. Saying it to someone’s face works too, but having it posted online is a lot more effective. After all, what’s on the Internet stays on the Internet forever.

 

6. Make Notes

Aside from commitment with the help of others, you can also do it all by yourself. Make some notes constantly reminding you of your goal and leave them in a place you know you’ll read them. Don’t lose sight of the goal and think about it on a daily basis. This technique will gradually lessen the weight of your task and it will make it seem more achievable.

 

7. Start small

Failures are a part of life just like successes. Don’t expect a huge result right off the bat. Start off small and gradually increase difficulty. If you want to work out, start with a short 10-minute routine. If you have to write a paper, tell yourself that you’ll write 200 words today, 300 words tomorrow, and keep increasing the number.

 

8. Find Joy

Find joy in these small successes. Go into the task with minimal expectations. When you manage to get those 10 minutes of exercise done, see it as a positive thing. In turn, it will boost motivation and it will make you realize that your goal is within reach.

 

9. Accept the fickleness

Another important thing is to realize the fact that, no matter how many tips and motivational exercises you will undergo, this is still a task that doesn’t exactly fill you with joy. If, after a few days of good work, you find yourself lack in motivation again, this is not the end. Motivation is like a rollercoaster. Take a break, repeat the previous steps, press the reboot button, and start over again.

“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.”   – Lou Holtz

10. Reach for help

Don’t steer away from the support of others. You might actually need it, especially if you have difficulties picking yourself up again. The people who know about your goal will very likely be there to help you rather than to judge you.

The best advice I can give is to constantly keep your eyes on the benefits, to swap negative thoughts for positive ones. Find some sort of reward at the end of the task’s completion. If you can’t, follow these tips and accept the fact that you can’t be 100% committed to this particular goal, but that it can be done regardless.

What are some things you do to help yourself take action even when you don’t feel like it? Please share in the comment section below!
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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Amanda Wilks

    Jul 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Tim,
    Great point you’ve made there! The motivation factor is crucial. If something is very important to you, you will move mountains to get there! Taking action in these cases comes instinctively because you’ve determined how much it matters to you. Driving pleasure from what you’re doing is equally efficient as the personal value factor. Thank you for your kind comment! Amanda

  2. Tim Denning

    Jul 9, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Amanda I often experience times when I know I have to take action but don’t feel like it. I try to keep the end result in mind and refocus on my why. When I change my thought patterns and focus on what’s important, I suddenly feel like taking action again.

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The Guide to Staying Motivated While Working Alone

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Working alone at home might sound like a nightmare to some, but as a fully signed up introvert, working alone at home is an absolute dream. No energy-draining small talk, no noisy distractions, just peace and quiet to complete deep and focused work. Well not quite. Working alone at home has more challenges than you might expect. Boredom, lack of focus and lack of motivation to name a few.

When you start working for yourself, you quickly realise that one of the biggest problems you face isn’t the job itself. Maintaining your motivation poses a potentially huge difficulty. Much of that difficulty stems from working alone, rather than in a traditional office setting. There is also the challenge of staying focused on the task at hand. With no boss or supervisor looking over your shoulder, social media can distract or cat videos interrupt you.

But the greatest problem by far is a simple lack of motivation. There doesn’t seem to be a pressing need to finish this project right now, making it far too easy to put it off until later. Left unchecked, a lack of motivation can cripple the work you are trying to accomplish. Over the past few years I’ve developed a few go-to tactics to improve my lone working motivation.

Here are some of the tools I’ve used to stay motivated and on-task.

These first few tips focus on using different tweaks in your personal work schedule to provide some variety and maintain your focus.

1. Include short breaks

My eye doctor once told me that for every 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen, you should look away and focus on something across the room for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a chance to reset. Do something similar with the rest of your body; don’t just look across the room, walk, jog, or run across the room. Give your body a break, and try to reset your thoughts. If you don’t have the discipline to take regular breaks, use an app to remind you.

2. Block out an afternoon for social activities and networking

Set aside one afternoon a week for your social life. Friday afternoon works best for me. If you feel guilty about not working, think of it as a chance to network. Either way, be sure to spend this section of time with other people. Socialise and network.

3. View your personal schedule as your work schedule

A 9-to-5 job requires getting up every morning, preparing for the day, leaving the house, and commuting to your workplace. In other words, it requires going to work. You want to recreate the same rhythm at home. You may not actually need to leave your house in order to work, but try to stick with the schedule. Filling the old job timeslot with your new work helps to keep you motivated – you can’t clock out early!

These next few tips are little things you can do to trick yourself into staying focused!

1. Music

This tip may sound cliché, but try listening to an upbeat song loudly whenever you feel unmotivated. It’s a simple trick, but a surprisingly effective one!

2. Have somewhere else to work for a change of scenery

When procrastination sets in, sometimes a quick change of scenery is all you need. If you work at home, going to your favourite café can be a huge help. Other freelancers I know have even gone so far as to hire office space outside the home, and rotate between the two to help stay on-task.

3. Love what you do

This is arguably the most critical point on the whole list. If you don’t love what you do, it will be hard to keep yourself motivated – particularly long-term. Sure, you may be able to push on through sheer force of will for a while, but sooner or later you’ll lose motivation entirely. Do something you genuinely enjoy, and you’ll find it much easier to stick with it for the long haul.

These last few tips are Industry-related!

1. Make sure you have fun projects

Not all of your work projects will be fun, but fight to make at least a couple of them fun. These might even be personal side projects, not particularly related to your main job. Or they might be in the same general field, but not your specific focus.

2. Attend industry events a couple of times a year

Nearly every imaginable industry has an organising body of some kind. Find the local branch, and use it to keep tabs on industry-related events. Attend some seminars, network, and maybe even glean some new tips and tricks from industry insiders.

3. Schedule at least one call a week to learn something within your industry

View this as an opportunity for personal development. At least once a week, try to learn something new about your industry. For me, this might mean calling a new tool provider to demonstrate their gadgets. Whatever your industry, try to expand your horizons a little bit every week. You’ll learn new methods and make new connections at the same time.

These tips worked for me, hopefully, some of them will help you out as well. Above all, strive to enjoy what you do, stick to a “work schedule,” and look for opportunities for constant self-improvement. With those ideas in mind, you’ll find staying motivated much easier to do alone or in a group!

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