I've been feeling super unmotivated lately. Have you ever felt like that before? I have all these grand intentions to do all these wonderful and ambitious things with my life, but as soon as I get home from work all I want to do is sit on the couch with a bowl of ice-cream and binge episodes of my latest Netflix-obsession. Sound familiar?
Or, the times that I actually DO find the gumption to get up and attempt to be productive, I sit in front of my computer and get lost in the swarm of emails I need to address, projects I want to complete, and files I "still" haven't completely organized. It seems like my "projects" list grows exponentially everyday, while any attempt to dive into it is thwarted by circumstance or my own self-indulgence.
I'm telling you, this kind of thing happens to us all- motivation seems to come in waves for most people. One day you're feeling fired up and like you're about to conquer the world (or at least your own personal dreams!) and the next you're down in the slums with the rest of us. If your days seem like they're more often in the latter, please don't stress- you're certainly not alone.
So what can we do? Certainly you're not content with just "waiting it out" until your next good mood, right? Of course not! I highly doubt you'd be here reading this if you were.
Easy Trick When You're Feeling Unmotivated
I suppose the good news that stems from the knowledge that I've lived this pattern so many times before is that I know there's a simple fix to get back on track. Instead of waiting around for life to "get better" for you in that area (which, let me give you a little hint: it never does!), by doing this one thing, you can begin to take your future plans and life goals into your own hands and YOU decide where you're headed.
What is it?
It's a simple thing called "Weekly Goals", which sounds so mundane, I bet you're thinking: "That's it? That's your magic formula?"
Well it's certainly no magic formula (unfortunately those don't exist, but don't I wish they did!), but it IS something that has helped me immensely when I'm stuck in a slog just like this.
I used to think that lack of motivation stems from laziness or lack of drive or initiative. And yes, sometimes it does. But I've found that quite often when I'm feeling my very familiar "avoidant" thoughts, it's actually more often due to general overwhelm and a lack of clarity of my next steps. So even though I've had plenty of "lazy days" recently, I don't really consider myself a "lazy" person. Once I can address the cause of my stress and overwhelm, I know my work ethic and drive will return- and probably, so will yours.
What does this look like?
Truthfully, it'll look different for everyone, and rightly so. Everyone's lives, goals, paths, purposes, missions, and priorities are all different. One person is not going to exactly fit inside the box of another. I'm going to share with you MY process and what it looks like for ME, but I encourage you to adapt it to fit your own needs and lifestyle. There's no point in living a system if it's ineffective in helping you become a better version of yourself.
Note: All of the steps below are outlined in the FREE video training "Weekly Goals", along with printables you can use to complete the steps I outline in the training. Click on the link below to access the free training and printables, and watch your overwhelm & lack of motivation begin to fade.
Step 1: Determine Categories
Click the link above to download the printable. Once you confirm your email and receive your download link, you'll be able to choose to download either a traditional printable (if you're a pen and paper girl like myself), or a fillable PDF you can save over and over. (Really you can download them both, in case your needs adjust over time- this is also a common tactic).
Once you have your printable in hand, read the five life categories it lists in the boxes. If any of these categories don't apply to your life, feel free to use the second page to fill in your own categories. My philosophy is to "make it work for you" - there's no point investing time into something that won't bring you closer to where you want to be.
Pick a couple areas of your life that you want to focus on for now. Remember: this choice is not permanent! You only need to live with it for a week. You may be tempted to try and pick a bunch of categories in your life (I'm describing myself here!), but I promise you, doing so will only bring MORE overwhelm and guilt to your life, not less. Instead, just pick a couple areas for now. Yes, I'm fully aware that you have a bajillion things you think you need to work on. But has trying to do them all at once ever worked for you? It definitely hasn't for me! But starting off with a couple definitely HAS worked for me. This is how.
Step 2: Set Goals
For each category you chose in step 1, think of a small goal you can work on during the week. Don't make it too big, or you'll just set yourself up for frustration and guilt- neither of which are motivating, and both of which will make your overwhelm even worse.
Here are some basic goal-setting tips:
- Your goals should be small and manageable. This should be something you can tackle in a week.
- Think about how you'll measure results and progress for your goal. How will you know if/when you've achieved it? Think in numbers, lengths of time, etc...
- Phrasing your goal like a habit is a great way to ensure you can measure your goal and progress over time.
- Your small weekly goals should be directly related to the larger goals you're working toward in your life. How will accomplishing this thing help you move forward in your future? How will this make you a better person for yourself or your family?
- Pick goals that allow you to fail. This isn't the place for "critical" tasks that MUST be completed this week or you'll be subjected to dire repercussions. For that type of planning, please reference my daily planner set. These are goals that you're working toward, but that you're willing to give yourself grace on if you happen to fall behind. Please don't ever forget this next tip: Working on your goals is all about PROGRESS, not about results. Sure, seeing fabulous results moving forward regularly is a wonderful thing, but how many of us ever achieve every goal we ever set? Does that mean we should stop setting them? Definitely not! The purpose of goalsetting (and achieving) is to help give us direction on the path we want to walk to help us reach our desired destination. This process takes time, and there will certainly be a whole lot of bumps on the road along the way. But even if it's just one step forward all week, progress is progress, and you're further ahead than you were the week before. And THAT is achievement.
Working on your goals is all about PROGRESS, not merely the results.
Step 3: Track Your Progress Through the Week
Keep your weekly goals sheet handy during the week, either in your planner or by your bed at night. You'll want to check off each day you accomplished your goal, and there's a space on the bottom of each category box to do that.
It's perfectly ok to miss some days- don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get it done everyday. Remember: the idea here is to build momentum and progress. To be a little better today than we were yesterday. You probably won't accomplish every goal everyday, but be sure to celebrate the ones you do.
Step 4: Evaluate, Review, Adjust
At the end of the week, think about your overall progress on your goals and fill out the "evaluation" box under each category you selected. What did you do well at? What can you improve on?
This is actually a weekly pattern for me. Once a week I set some time aside to do a short "weekly review" of my goals and plans- looking back to what I accomplished the week before, as well as looking ahead to what's coming up next. Analyzing your progress on your goals is an important step of this process, and if you skip it, you'll lack the information you need when setting your new goals.
Some helpful things to look for during your "Weekly Review" are:
- Which goals were you most successful in? Least successful?
- Did the progress you made this week propel you forward in your long-term goals? Are they helping you become who you want to be?
- What patterns do you see? Maybe you're great at accomplishment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Wednesdays are just too busy for you to think about anything other than your committed tasks and appointments. This could be important information as you modify your goals- maybe Wednesday becomes a "bonus day" of sorts, or a type of "wildcard" feature for you (substituting it for a different day you might miss in the week)? I've done that before, and it pushes me to attempt the goal if I can, but allows me to give myself grace if it just doesn't happen.
- Are there different categories/areas of your life you'd rather focus on in the coming week? Have your priorities shifted, even temporarily based on the circumstances in front of you this week? (This is completely normal- life priorities will often sway in response to what's happening in your life. It's usually temporary, and when the circumstance is addressed, life will return to "normal".)
- Do you want to change or alter your goal for the coming week? Think about things like how often you think you can fill the task (more or less often than last week?), or the measurement of the goal (10 pages of reading versus 100?). Changing these numbers based on last week's progress is recommended to keep yourself both engaged and motivated. Goals that are too easy are uninspiring, and goals that are too challenging become a frustrating chore. Finding the "happy medium" between these two extremes can be difficult, but if you can, you'll find far more positive success than leaving it at one or the other.
Setting weekly goals (and then tracking and evaluating them later) is an essential step in your personal progression. It's also one of the easiest, fastest, and most encouraging steps I know of to give yourself "quick wins" and positive reinforcement. It's not about berating yourself when you fail or giving up in frustration- it's about seeing progress in action.
If you go into the process with a positive attitude of "I cannot lose", you'll see yourself gain momentum each and every day. Celebrate your successes and evaluate the days you don't get as much done as you'd like. Track your progress and modify your goals as you go. Set aside time each week to review your progress and make the changes you need to ensure you're on the path that will get you to where you want to be.
READY TO SET SOME WEEKLY GOALS AND START SEEING SOME REAL PROGRESS IN YOUR LIFE? DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WEEKLY GOALS PLANNER BELOW AND LET'S GET TO WORK!
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