What To Do When You're Unmotivated on a Goal
Have you ever felt any of these things?
I set goals that I know are "good" (lose weight, drink more water, grow my faith) but I just can't seem to DO anything about them.
I was so excited about my goals when I set them at the beginning of the year, but I've hardly made any progress.
I want to make progress on my goals, but with everything else going on in my life, I find myself zoning out in front of the TV/scrolling on Instagram/generally vegging when I have a few free minutes.
Sister, you're not alone! We've all felt that way at one time or another. We are people trying to thrive in the age of burnout—the age of a million options, a million demands on our time, growing anxiety over a million things, and distractions galore.
Here's some really good news for you today: your PowerSheets® are the antidote to burnout, not a contributor to your feelings of stress or failure! You—just as you are, where you find yourself today—are capable of making incredible progress this year! We're about to share some genius tips and tricks to kick your un-motivation to the curb, but we need one thing from you in return: a firm belief that you can do this, and a willingness to write a new story this year.
Yes, you'll still have days where you scroll, or binge, or veg. But you'll also agree that that is no longer your identity. Instead, you are a CULTIVATOR—someone who gets back up, who believes in imperfect progress, and who is confident and capable and in charge of her own life! The stories we tell ourselves are so important, and no amount of tips or tricks are going to help if you still think of yourself as a lazy, unmotivated, disappointing failure.
Ready to write a new story? Try one of these tactics when you're feeling unmotivated on a goal!
Break it down. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the easiest: if the path forward isn't clear, it's hard to work up the motivation to take that next step. To map out a clear path to success, you'll need to break your goal down! Here's your easy how-to.
Make it fun. In his book Finish, Jon Acuff's fourth principle is "make it fun if you want it done," and we completely agree! "Make sure you enjoy your goal," he says. "Make sure there's laughing and smiling involved with that thing you're going to do." Maybe you've believed that you'll only make progress if you're miserable, or that fun goals "don't count." For a goal to be right and true, sometimes we believe it must also be difficult or painful. That's a lie. Fun not only counts, but it's necessary if you want to "beat perfectionism and get to the finish," says Acuff.
Ask yourself: how could I make this goal more fun? If your goal is to lose weight and you hate running, could you choose a different form of exercise? If your goal is to declutter your house, could you allow yourself to only listen to new episodes of your favorite podcast while you're sorting through boxes? If you're developing a habit of meal planning, could you meet up with a friend to grocery shop every week?
Remind yourself of your priorities. This suggestion came up over and over again in the PowerSheets Facebook group: keep your Tending List where you can see it every day. You've invested your time and heart into setting good goals and breaking them down for the month—now, put them where you'll see them every day (your desk, your dresser, the passenger seat of your car, your kitchen counter). Forcing yourself to confront your priorities daily (and the enticement of being able to check something off!) might spur you to action!
Make the best choice the easiest. Remove every possible barrier between you and your goals. Put your desired behavior on the path of least resistance, so it takes less energy and effort to DO the thing than to NOT do it.
Want more family singalongs? Hang the guitar on the wall instead of keeping it in a case in the closet. Want to get up early for quiet time? Set your coffee to brew at 6am. Want to eat more fruits and veggies? Wash and chop your haul on the weekends and keep them at the front of your fridge (and throw out the junk in your pantry, while you're at it!).
Tell someone about it. Like so many things in our lives, goals wither and die in the dark, and flourish in the light! If you know someone will be checking in on your progress, or asking you how your goals are going; you'll have additional fire to take those little steps forward.
A great example: Nancy posts her goals to her blog every month, knowing that readers will expect a follow-up at the end of the next month—and she credits that with why she's made so much little-by-little progress over the years! Telling someone about your goals can also help you troubleshoot when you feel stuck about a next step forward, and increase your excitement as you share your wins along the way.
Remind yourself how achieving this goal will make your life better. If you're saving money for a down payment, print out a picture of your dream home and tape it on your bathroom mirror. If you're hopping on your stationery bike every day so you can be fit enough to get on the floor with your grandkids, tape their picture to your bike. Get specific about your WHY and keep it in front of you!
Surround yourself with goal getters. It's easy to feel unmotivated when no one around you seems to be traveling your same road. Whether virtual or IRL, like-minded community can encourage you to live differently, inspire you to think bigger, teach you something, and keep you in it for the long haul—all things that can snap you out of an unmotivated funk! Read more about growing a community of goal setters here.
Work with your natural inclinations. In Gretchen Rubin's book The Four Tendencies, she identifies four molds for how we respond to expectations: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendencies help explain why we act and why we don't act, and they help answer the question "how do I get people—including myself—to do what I want?" If you want to make progress on your goals but seem to be getting in your own way, knowing your Tendency might help. Take the quiz here!
Use the clock. You can do anything for 20 minutes, right? :) If you're feeling unmotivated because the task ahead of you feels daunting or never-ending, promise yourself you'll commit to just 20 minutes of progress a day—and then the rest will be yours to do with as you wish! Once you get started, you might find yourself continuing long after the timer has rung, but even if you don't, you can make an incredible amount of progress with just 20 minutes several times a week.
Fake it til you make it. If all else fails, try this tip from PowerSheets user Maggie: "My fake-it-til-you-make-it motivation is fun music, coffee, goofy dancing with my kiddos, and repeating my 'why' or verse of the year out loud. It's amazing how your outlook can change in 5 minutes!"
Friend, don't fall into the trap of thinking "I shouldn't need these tips and tricks to make progress on my goals—I could muscle through if I just had enough discipline!" That's what perfectionism wants you to believe, but it's a belief that will get you nowhere fast. The place you're headed is really good, so let's get you there as fast and as effectively as we can!
I'd love to hear: what do you do when you're unmotivated on a goal? Have any of these tactics worked for you? Tell us in the comments below!
P.S. These tips are meant for those working on goals they feel passionately about and that already have a strong WHY in place. If you're still searching for goals that fire you up, the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner will help you set them!
Want more goal setting encouragement and resources? We'd love to have you in our community!