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Four Things to Do When You Are Trying to Get Motivated

By Jacquelyn Adams

Too often, my relationship with motivation has had a ‘the one that got away’ vibe. External structures, deadlines and the occasional mad dash to the finish line are my jam. But when it comes to more flexible projects or self-imposed deadlines, locating that ever-elusive motivation can be… tricky. Over the last few years, I have grown in achieving those self-set goals and flexible deadlines. Here are some tips and tricks that I have cultivated along the way to help you get motivated.

Remove the Roadblocks

The first step as we track down motivation is to discover if there are any reasons we are feeling lazy or apathetic. Instead of calling ourselves lazy, are we just tired and need a 30-minute nap to help us reboot? Do we need to hydrate? Some days, I need to hit the reset button. Life gives us plenty of reasons to need a reset button — people, technology not working, people, red tape, and people, to name a few. My reset button involves a specialty coffee or a carbonated beverage while blasting a favorite song. There also may be some manic dancing or power walking up stairs.

So if we need to rest, we should rest, but we have to be sure that our rest is fueling us and not a rabbit hole of apathy (I am looking at you, “Just five minutes on TikTok and then I’ll be motivated”), then reset and make some moves.


And speaking of movement, my next rule is very memorable — an object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest. This is why the manic dancing or power stairs can be so valuable. They can act as a springboard for the productive movement that we desire. On the other hand, if we need to type a proposal, email, etc, but are blinded by the blank white page, we can use a tool like ChatGPT to help us brainstorm. Whatever the task may be, find a way to get our body/mind moving in the right direction. The longer we hold still and hide from it, the harder it is to face it.

Turn Accomplishments into Endorphins

I might get some raised eyebrows on my next motivation trick, but I actively use my self-talk to fuel progress. Talking to ourselves out loud or even in our heads may feel weird and make us self-conscious. Still, it is common, so why not use it to our advantage? After I accomplish a task that isn’t my favorite, I will thank myself every time I reap the benefits of it. Here is a simple example. Every week my coworkers email me a few data points. I then take those data points to create one document that we all reference the following week. It’s monotonous, and sometimes I must send reminder emails to get all the data points. It’s never been my favorite, but every time that document makes my work easier, I say (sometimes out loud, sometimes in my head), “Thank you for this document. It helped me out today.” I get a hit of endorphins from the gratitude, which has improved my relationship with that document. And as my coworker says, if it’s crazy and it works, it’s not crazy.

Accept the Truth

Finally, it is so easy to put off a task thinking that we will feel more motivated later. Ha! The ridiculous lies we tell ourselves. I will never want to review the budget, clean the toilet, or provide feedback on those slides or a million other things. I would rather go on a hike or eat something delicious. So I have forced myself to accept the truth that ‘later’ is never a magically better time. I will never want to do a task I hate. Instead, every moment I delay means the task will loom over me that much longer. It is better to do it as quickly as possible and free myself from the existential dread of procrastinating.

Rewiring our relationship with motivation takes time and effort. It takes time, and there will be barriers. That being said, each moment is an opportunity to choose to be better. We can rest, reset and reach toward a more ordered and motivated life.


Jacquelyn Adams

Jacquelyn Adams, founder and CEO of Ristole, uses her column to delve into the wild world of leadership. Whether the article is about her days as a Peace Corp volunteer, exploring corporate training, or even grabbing lunch at Chipotle — she will come out with a story and her “top tips.” As she passionately believes in leveraging her platform to share others’ voices, her column welcomes guest bloggers to create a fuller and more diverse pool of experiences for her readership. So, welcome to “Lessons on Leadership” where you never know what the next article will hold: online networking advice, guidelines for creating a joyful workplace, or even puppies. Just keep reading to discover what’s next!

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  1. Jacquelyn, Thanks for writing your thoughts on this issue. It is something I struggle with, my rabbit hole is social media. My action against it is to set up a daily limit time in my phone so I can use the platforms for a specific period of time only. It is actually working because I’m here going through my abandoned IEEE emails and just found your powerful ideas. Thanks!

    1. Hey Rodrigo, thanks for your insights. I’m also trying to reduce social media time, shifting from Instagram reels to books and podcasts. It’s a work in progress, but this switch is a healthier choice that allows me to enjoy new content and stay productive. Appreciate your sharing!

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