We all have those days when we wake up and feel like declaring it a ‘mental health day’ which translates to watching Friends all day while eating a family-sized bag of potato chips.
I’m not opposed to a Friends break every once in awhile, especially when your brain needs a timeout. I’m always up to belly laugh at (and relate to) Monica’s neuroticism.
But, we’re getting off track.
The point I was trying to make is that it’s completely normal to dislike the work (or part of the work) that you’re so passionate about most days.
There have been days that I’ve groaned out loud just looking at my keyboard across the room or pulled out all my watercolor supplies just to have my inner creative say, “not today lady…not happening.”
Even though it’s a normal feeling, you don’t want to give up that easily. You want to work through it. You want your inner creative spirit to give you a push to get out of your black yoga pants with the hole in the right butt cheek that’s pretty much covered by a long t-shirt and give you an idea for a blog post, because it’s “due” today.
It’s one of the worst feelings to get to the end of the day and feel like you got nothing important accomplished.
And, what about when you hit a rough patch where you’re unmotivated for days or weeks or…gasp…months?
With this post, I’m going to help you take back control from that voice in your head whispering that you should “run out to get some skittles and buttered popcorn and spend your afternoon finding out whether or not Luke and Lorelia ever get married.”
These are my go-to ninja skills for getting yourself motivated enough to get out of pajamas and doing a happy butt wiggle when you think about diving into work:
1. Think about your why.
When I’m feeling really unmotivated, I’ve lost sight of my why.
Why I do what I do. Why I create a piece of free content every week. Why I run a membership program for creative entrepreneurs that’s priced the same as a t-shirt from Ann Taylor Loft.
I also think about the future. If I don’t do the work, what will my future look like (boring and bland without Anthropologie shopping sprees) versus what it will look like if I do the work (running a business that gives me the opportunity to create daily and supports my family, including my three ginormous labs that could eat an entire elephant for lunch).
Here are your two simple steps: 1. Think about why you do what you do. 2. Imagine the future (including details and the pros and cons of getting your butt off the couch and working).
If imagining the future doesn’t help you get motivated, then try my next tip.
2. Do one small thing.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and the overwhelm of a huge to-do list to reach our gigantic goals can derail our progress. Our brains can go into fight or flight or freeze mode when imagining a to-do list that you can never finish today or tomorrow or this week.
Try something for me. Put away that long to-do list. Seriously…get it out of your sight. Now, start another to-do list in your planner or on a post-it and only write down one small task. Something you can absolutely get done today.
That could be outlining your next blog post in 15 minutes or sketching in your sketchbook while waiting for the subway or brainstorming five titles for your webinar.
How does that feel? Better?
Once you’ve finished that small step, you’ll likely have gotten over that unmotivated bump and feel ready to delve into the next small step. And, if not, at least you accomplished something (which feels good, right?) and I’ve got some more tips for you to try.
3. Reward yourself.
I’m big on rewards. I give my brain a reward by having a written to-do list each day with a satisfying box next to each item to check when I’m done. That alone can give me a boost of motivating fairy dust.
As I check off a box, I look to the next item on my list because I want to get that one done and checked off, too.
But, if I need a bigger reward, I create one. For instance, I’ve rewarded myself with going out to eat with friends or buying a novel I’ve been eyeing or allowing myself to end my day early to do something I really want to do like play in my bullet journal.
Your reward doesn’t have to be material goods. I find that rewards that include an activity give me more motivation.
The other night, I rewarded myself after a long day of work by listening to an audiobook and fixing a huge pot of quinoa, lentil and kale stew. Usually my husband is the cook in our house (he looks really hot in his man apron), but I wanted to feel the enjoyment I get when I stand at the counter, cutting up veggies for 60 minutes (it was a TON of veggies) while I listen to a good book.
It might not seem like a reward, but for me, it totally was. I’ve gotten into a habit of working while my husband cooks dinner and while I appreciate that time he gives me, I wanted to rest my brain and do something automatic, liking chopping onions and carrots and tearing up bunches of kale.
4. Take a dance party break.
One of the easiest ways to trick your brain and body into getting motivated is to move your body and release some feel good endorphins. You could take a brisk walk around your neighborhood or you could have even more fun by turning on your favorite jams at the moment and dancing it out.
I know that exercise is often one of those things you don’t feel like doing when you’re already unmotivated but don’t think of it as exercise. Dancing around your living room like a fool is fun!
5. Talk to the right kind of friend.
You need other girl bosses in your life for this exact moment. Your friends who don’t run their own businesses or have their own side income probably don’t relate to your entrepreneurial drive and that’s okay.
That’s why you need friends who get it. You need to have at least one or two (or 130) creative entrepreneurs you can turn to when you need a pick-me-up.
“Sunday Society is a group where you can get almost instant feedback. I’ve posted in the FB group for help naming things, or titling blog posts, and I don’t have to wait long at all before people have given me ideas/feedback.” -Amanda Sue Howell, Magic in the Mess
When I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll ask Mayi Carles (my business and all things bestie) what she’s currently working on and her excitement for whatever project is currently keeping her hands covered in paint usually rubs off on me.
It’s also just nice to hear, “Yeah…I know that feeling but the good news is that it’ll pass,” from someone who understands and won’t say, “Well, if you’re not happy, why are you doing it? Just give up. It’s not worth it and you can join book club finally! YAY!”
“Sunday Society has kept me from feeling alone. Being a solo biz owner can get isolating and overwhelming with all the to-do’s. It is so nice to know you have a group of amazing ladies that support you. Everyone actually genuinely cares that you succeed. We keep each other motivated and accountable. I have never experienced this kind of connection in any other FB group. It is completely unique….it’s my village; I feel so grateful to be a part of this group.” -Neesha Merani, Paper Wand
6. Learn something new.
If you’re a lifelong learner like me, reading a couple chapters in a nonfiction book (highly recommend Organize Tomorrow Today) or watching a CreativeLive segment (like one from this course) or jumping on a webinar can be just the inspiration you need to move forward.
Maybe you’re bored because you haven’t been pushing yourself. Maybe you need to learn and try out some new techniques.
This usually gets my insides somersaulting with glee. Try it and see if it works for you.
7. Work in the right environment.
Change your location to see if that helps. If you’ve been working at home, take your laptop to a local coffee shop and see if the buzz of people (and shot of caffeine) helps your mood.
If you’ve been stuck inside, get outside. Go to a park or sit in your backyard and do a little work.
You could even try moving from your desk to your couch. Or make your desk more inviting by getting it organized and lighting a candle.
Our environments can have a greater impact than we realize and it might be just the thing that’s making you feel gloomy and distracted.
8. Think about what this really means.
If none of the ideas above help get you out of your funk and it’s been lingering for awhile, you should consider what this means.
Maybe you don’t love your business or what you have to do to run your business. Maybe you want to go in a new direction but are beating yourself up, because you’ve already spent hours and hours on your current side hustle. Maybe you need to hire a new team member so you can concentrate on the parts you enjoy.
Be honest with yourself. If you really don’t enjoy your work anymore, it’s probably not going to get better and the sooner you decide to move onto to something else, the better.
I pinky promise. I’ve been there myself a couple of times.
It’s a difficult decision to make, but it tops being miserable.
What about you? What helps you move past procrastination and lack of inspiration? Share in the comments below.
P.S. Have you been thinking about joining Sunday Society? Here’s how some of the women have said that Sunday Society keeps them motivated:
“Not only does April offer her wisdom and expertise daily (as well as live weekly calls), but each and every Sunday Society member jumps in, helps you, offers advice, and cheers you on. Since joining in February, not a day goes by where I can’t wait to check in and then get working on my own plans–and this is after YEARS of feeling stuck and afraid I would never be able to move forward with my dreams. April’s monthly challenges help make everything bite size and doable, and that’s also been key for me to stay on the motivation train. Love Sunday Society!” -Katie Meyers, Calming Creative
“If you have a question someone always answers. I found the march challenge super encouraging with the daily posts of what we had done, and it was super helpful to break it down in small bite-sized work. I even got virtual hugs when I was feeling a bit down! So thank you!” -Carla Montiel, Monmo & Co
“Sunday Society has helped me so much when it comes to procrastination. The Monday check-ins have helped me focus on the specific actions I need to do during the week and the Friday check-ins have motivated me to get all the to-dos done so I can feel accomplished.” -Katie Daniels Dunne, Crafty and Bright
“On days when I’m feeling totally unmotivated to work on my business, Sunday Society really helps me kick it into gear. When I think about blowing off a morning to do something else, I remember that there’s a whole group of women who are in the same self-employed boat with me. Sharing our goals with each other at the beginning of each week and sharing our progress and our wins at the end of each week helps me to feel like I’m accountable to someone. Having those “deadlines” in my mind and knowing that other people know about them too is a huge help when it comes to staying motivated to get things checked off of my to-do list.” -Erin Stewart, Aroma Culture
“I would get nothing done without Sunday Society! I love how I have a place to come for support and inspiration when I’m having a bad day and also a place for accountability and butt kicking when I’m being lazy and don’t feel like doing the work.” -Shelly Seward, The View From Where I Am
“I love that on Mondays we have the chance to post our goals for the week. I know that if I want to get something done that week, I need to share it on the Monday accountability post. Not only do I feel accountable to the promises I make to my Sunday Society friends when I share my goals, I also have people checking in with me throughout the week. It feels like just the right amounts of pressure to get it done, and fun when I get to share my progress throughout the week.” -Madeline Stoker, Madeline Shayne
“Sunday Society has helped me tackle my unmotivated days with not only consistent encouragement, but also accountability. Through this group, I have found not only a one-on-one accountability partner, but am also motivated by weekly and monthly challenges. I appreciate the consistent prompts, calls, posts and nudges to keep me headed in the right direction – even when I’m having one of “those” days, and it has made all the difference. I am truly more focused and productive because of Sunday Society.” -Julie Miller, Little Girl’s Pearls
These women are amazing! This is what I collected in only three hours. I asked them today, on the day I’m posting this for feedback on how Sunday Society keeps them motivated and this is what they said. Imagine if I had given them 24 hours. You want to be a part of this group if you’re looking for a serious (yet super fun) group of creative entrepreneurs who are working towards their dreams and will help you do the same.