It happened to Albert Einstein. Walt Disney suffered from it too. And these famous men didn’t have to take their kids to soccer practice, pick up prescriptions for their parents, or fold the laundry. Feeling stuck and unmotivated (especially when there are so many demands on your time) can happen to anyone. That’s the bad news. The good news is you don’t have to be a physicist or creative genius to snap out of it.
Below are five simple things you can do to break free from feeling stuck.
- Take a break
- Start small
- Engage in positive, unrelated actions
- Change your perspective
- Lose the guilt
Take a break
Taking a break may seem like a counterintuitive way to increase motivation, but it’s not. Something as simple as eating a healthy snack, going for a brisk walk, taking a shower, or even drinking a glass of water can have an immediate and revitalizing effect. Doctors report an estimated 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration, so something as easy as taking the time to drink a glass of water may be enough to get your energy and motivation flowing again.1
When you’re feeling stuck, the hardest part is getting started. This is often because the enormity of the task feels so overwhelming that you don’t know where to begin. This is where starting small comes in. Lower the bar. Here’s an example. Revise your plan from working out for an hour to exercising for 15 minutes. Chances are good that once you begin your routine you will not only reach your modified goal, you will exceed it.
Engage in positive, unrelated actions
Cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, changing the kitty litter box, or folding the laundry instead of doing your taxes may not seem like a logical approach to increase motivation, but there is some wisdom to this tactic. Engaging in ANY positive action trumps inactivity. This is especially important for those who feel shame and guilt about their lack of drive. Even a small victory can provide a sense of accomplishment that leads to bigger and better things.
Change your perspective
Changing your perspective is easier said than done, but it is a crucial step to feeling unstuck. Instead of concentrating on the difficulty of the task, expand your vision to what CAN be done. Take a moment to imagine how good you’ll feel once the job is completed. “Giving up” is a reflection of a narrow viewpoint. It takes a creative mindset to imagine the possibilities.
There is a story of a mother who heard Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space, speak at a convention. After the luncheon the mother complimented the astronaut on her positive message. The mother said she was anxious to share the message with her daughter so the girl would be inspired to realize her dreams. Ms. Jemison looked at the mother and said, “What about you and your dreams?” That change in perspective was enough for the mother to expand her outlook and have more hope for her own future – not just her daughter’s.
Lose the guilt
Guilt is a heavy burden. It’s also a self-inflicted emotion that drains motivation and depletes your level of happiness. While people can try to lay a guilt trip on you, it’s your choice whether or not you choose to embrace it. An interesting analogy came from a female firefighter (now a fire chief) who has maintained a positive attitude in spite of her challenges of working in a male-dominated field. She likened guilt and negativity to rocks, and life as a backpack. She would often tell people you can trip on a rock, or people can hand you a rock. But it is your decision whether or not you want to put that rock in your backpack and carry it around with you the rest of your life.
Obstacles are a part of life. Everyone feels stuck from time to time. The solution is to persevere and then enjoy the results. As Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
75% of Americans May Suffer From Chronic Dehydration According to Doctors, Medical Daily, John Ericson, July 3, 2013, http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393. If you cannot access this article on-line, you may call (309)732-8260 to request a copy.