I’m sure many of us have gotten to the point now where we feel like we’ve hit a wall with work, our hobbies, or anything else that takes up a certain amount of time and energy. For me, it’s always with my writing, whether that be on my blog, my work content, or the book I am currently working on. But this can also be said for physical activity or simply practicing mindfulness more often—anything that actually takes effort and consistency. I tend to fall into this slump during the winter months, especially when there’s no sunlight out to give me that boost of energy I need to get everything I want to done. With that being said, I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection lately, trying to approach this loss of motivation from a different direction than I have been in the past because it hasn’t really led me to any enlightenment thus far. Below are a few things I’m going to ask myself going forward when I feel unmotivated and that could help others as well in finding out what might be the underlying cause of it all.
“What” Vs. “Why”
For the longest time I would always ask myself why I felt a certain way, and that proved to be a fruitless attempt at mindfulness. Asking yourself ‘why’ doesn’t do anything except anger you when you can’t find the reason for your “failures” or shortcomings and in the end will leave you more confused than you were initially. ‘Why’ leaves too much room to put blame on yourself—i.e. “because I am useless”, “because I suck at everything”, “because I’m not pushing myself hard enough”, etc. The list can go on and on depending on your mental health at that point in time. I also think it allows for too much unrealistic speculation rather than a reason based on empirical proof.
I’m trying to make it a point to instead ask myself “what”—what is causing me to feel so lethargic or uninspired? More often than not, when I phrase the question that way, I tend to find a substantial reason as to what could be affecting me so intensely that I can’t perform the daily tasks I set out to. This can be as simple as “my desk is facing a wall rather than out a window”, which is a common cause for discouragement and feeling uninspired when trying to work for a few hours on end. Or it can be as complicated as “my current relationship with my partner/friend/family member is causing me stress and making me lose focus throughout the day”.
Of course, no one is perfect and there are times when I recognize when I am at fault for sabotaging my productivity throughout the day (*ahem* Binging It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), but the blame doesn’t always have to be put on your sense of self-worth because the environment you are in often contributes to your state of mind. Pinpointing the ‘what’ could really lead you to find a specific reason as to why you aren’t accomplishing what you had hoped to when first embarking on whatever journey you’ve set out on.
The other important thing to ask yourself in my opinion after “what” is “how”—how will you fix whatever it is that is affecting you and your motivation? You now know what the issue is, but it’s not always as easy finding the right course of action to counteract it. The ‘how’ is a little less cut and dry than the ‘what’ because it can be so different for everyone. What works for one person might have the complete opposite effect for another, which is why it’s important to let yourself try out different methods before feeling even more discouraged or worthless.
The ‘how’ can also change for you between now and a few months down the line. I find that taking a walk is a great way to inspire my creativity, but at times it also hinders my productivity because I’ll be more content day dreaming than harnessing the creativity it’s given me and putting it toward my work. It all depends on where you are in terms of your mindset; always have a few different methods that have worked for you in the past and keep them ready for when you feel yourself sinking into that dark place again.
I’m obviously not a mental health expert, nor am I trying to become one because tackling my own mental health issues is enough without trying to diagnose and help others. However, I think it’s important to share individual experiences if there’s even the slightest chance that it might shine a light on an issue for someone else or open a door that they never knew was there.