How to Get Motivated When You Feel Like Giving Up
- Jasbindar Singh
You started your dream project with gusto, but you’re just not getting the results you were expecting.
You feel frustrated, disappointed, and flat.
Reading about people who have made it only adds salt to the wound.
Now the voices of the naysayers have grown even louder in your head:
“What? Leave your full-time job? Embark on a writing career, NOW?”
“Start an internet-based business? (Or whatever other phrase fits here for you). Are you crazy?”
You can’t help but wonder if you’ve been duped by all that smart marketing, the glowing testimonial, and your own misplaced optimism and enthusiasm.
Now you’ve lost your mojo, and you have nothing to show for your bold decision.
Well, here’s the good news: It is not the end of the road just yet!
Here’s the thing. Frustration, doubts, slow results, being deeply, personally challenged, and any other mixed bag of feelings you are going through right now are all part of the journey to achieving anything worthwhile.
Think of the accomplishments of some of your heroes and people who took matters to a whole different level. I’m thinking Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Kate Sheppard, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and the list goes on and on.
They all hung in there during the tough times with their inner conviction and actions.
And you can too!
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Here are seven proven points of action, which will keep you going even when things don’t seem to be going right:
1. Keep the Dream Alive
Keep your vision of what’s possible very close to you and remind yourself every day why you started this project. Display an image, picture, person, symbol, or phrase that anchors you back to this.
I had a client once who carried a picture of his vision in his shirt pocket and even slept with it beside his bed! Crazy? Maybe, but why not if it helps you achieve your dream!
Other ways to keep your dream vividly close to you is to make a habit of revisiting your “big why.” In other words, what is the big picture and rationale that drove you to pursue your dream in the first place? For example, was it financial freedom, spending more time with your family, honoring your inner calling, or helping lots of people?
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Keep fueling your dream through your intentions and actions every day. Each morning, when you wake up, ask yourself, “What are the three things I am going to do today to get me closer to my dream?”
Keep your vision alive by sharing it with trusted others who are also passionate about their dreams and are on a similar journey.
Want to develop the mindset for success?
2. Develop Persistence and Grit
We know that, to achieve our goals, we need to be focused, put in the work, keep learning, and refine the actions we take. Research by psychologists such as Carol Dweck and Angela Lee Duckworth attest to this.
“If it’s important for you to become one of the best people in your field, you are going to have to stick with it when it’s hard,” Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at University of Penn, says. “Grit may be as essential as talent to high accomplishment.”
So don’t give up prematurely.
You can develop persistence and grit by:
- Seeing the path as a learning journey
- Focusing on and enjoying the process and not just the outcome
- Keeping a diary/journal on the project so when you look back you can see how far you have come already
- Having people with whom you can share your frustrations as well as your mini-successes
- Taking a short break and then returning to the project
- Stretching yourself, doing things just outside your comfort zone
“Gritty people do more deliberate practice,” Duckworth says. “They spend time working on really specific goals that are just outside of what they could do yesterday.”
3. Aim for Your Best Creation
We do our best work when there is a confluence of our strengths, passion, interests, and values. Check that your project is one that plays to your strengths and what you care about, as this will give you the most momentum and satisfaction.
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Naturally, we can’t be good at everything, so consider farming out and getting help with areas you’re weak at. Delegating will also help you avoid getting bogged down and losing steam in your progress.
Sometimes in the pursuit of our end goal, we can forget, minimize, or override the pleasure of doing what is intrinsically enjoyable. Positive psychology principles such as savoring these moments and having a sense of gratitude help increase our levels of happiness and well-being.
Stoke these fires and nourish and feed that which is truly meaningful for you.
You could do this by revisiting your top three to five values and ensuring that your project is in alignment with these.
For example, your value of “making a difference to kids struggling at school” can add to the pleasure you gain from the fact that your project on new learning methods is truly adding value.
The significance of doing work that in alignment with your core values is PRICELESS!
4. Get Feedback
If you’re feeling stuck or experiencing slow momentum, it might be time to get external input and feedback.
Reaching out to experts in the field, peers, coaches, or mentors can help provide the extra flush of new ideas that energize you again.
It can also ensure that you’re doing the right things and not just doing things right.
Sometimes we all need some course-correction. Why not give yourself the benefit of this?
It can be a good idea to frame the feedback by asking:
“What is good about this project?”
“What could I do better?”
“What am I missing?”
Framed this way, you are less likely to perceive the feedback as “negative” and more as useful information to course correct, adapt, or pivot!
If you do find yourself getting dispirited, that’s okay too. It’s human to feel disappointed, even depressed, but the key is not to stay there too long.
Lick your wounds and then get the momentum going again.
As the proverb says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”
5. Learning Framework
It’s easy to lose perspective and a sense of progress when you hit a lull or set back.
According to Stanford University Professor, Dr. Carol Dweck, a growth mindset sees challenges as opportunities for growth and further learning rather than as insurmountable failures, which stop us short in our paths.
Dweck suggests framing your current challenge as a learning experience and something that you haven’t mastered—just YET!
Notice what’s working and what isn’t and refine, adjust, or get outside help accordingly.
See the progress you are making every day, week, or month as you learn from any mistakes. You can focus on these three things:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well and what can we learn from this?
- What next actions can I take to get better results?
6. Manage Your Expectations
Forewarned is forearmed. Anytime we take a big step in our lives, all the monster and gremlin voices from our family and cultural conditioning which have plagued us in the past, will come flooding back!
And believe me, this time they get even louder and more pervasive.
Why? Because your dreams are bigger too!
In my case, the voice said, “Just who do you think you are to be doing xyz?”
For you, it might say, “Will this idea work? What if it doesn’t work? I might fail again!” or “You don’t have a degree and the right credentials to be doing this!” or whatever other conscious or subconscious driver has been running your life to date.
Get to know what your “trip-up monster voice” is likely to say so when you do hear it, you won’t be taken by surprise. Instead, you can identify this for what it is and then carry on.
Don’t try to bury the voices, because that can make them stronger. Instead, acknowledge it, then move on. Say, “Okay, noted. I’m going to do this anyway!”
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Your dreams are worth fighting for!
A common feedback from many entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders I have worked with is that things always took longer than they first anticipated.
So revisit your expectations and timelines. Get help on your project and go easy on any high expectations and tight deadlines you may have placed on yourself.
Your first prototype may not be the best and failure is also part of the terrain.
But remember the turtle also finishes the race!
7. Have Fun and Take Time Out
There’s not much point to doing anything especially pursuing our dreams and vision if it isn’t fun!
Sometimes we need to be reminded of this as we roll up our sleeves and dig in to do the work.
In her book, The Progress Principles–Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement and Creativity at Work, Teresa Amabile emphasizes the importance of having a great inner work life. This includes positive emotions more often than not, strong motivations, and a favorable perception of your work and colleagues.
Taking a break from your project, doing something completely different, even mindless, can leave you feeling refreshed and recharged with the extra bonus of added insights!
How can you find ways to make your project more fun?
Putting It All Together
We have seen time and time again that achieving anything worthwhile takes persistence, effort, and time. Results do come, but they take time. As many successful people have said, “My overnight success was, in fact, a culmination of many years of hard work before that!” And I do love the mantra, “Fail fast, fail often.”
So if you see slow or poor results, despair not. See it as useful information indicating where you need to adjust, course-correct, or pivot.
Which part of this post resonates with you the most? What actions will you take to re-connect with your dream and re-ignite the drive to move things forward?
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