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15 Ways To Motivate Yourself When You’re In A Slump

by Kieran Flanagan

Everyone experiences a “slump” once in a while: a period of your life when you feel totally unmotivated and uninspired.

But there are ways to pull yourself back up and get yourself going again!

Here’s how you can motivate yourself when you’re in the dreaded slump.

in a slump

How To Motivate Yourself And Get Out Of A Rut

1. Stop expecting so much of yourself

It’s common to blame ourselves and any lack of discipline we might have for any dips in motivation that we are experiencing. We lament, “There is something wrong with me, I am just so undisciplined.”

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with you at all, apart from the fact you suffer from a condition known as “being human.” Accepting the fact that you are, indeed, a mere mortal is the first step getting out of your slump. It’s okay that you have not achieved world domination by 10 a.m.

Related: 7 Ways To Wake Up Motivated Every Morning

Stop the beat up, accept no one has robotic-like motivation 100% of the time, and start again.

2. Realize part of not being in a slump is being in a slump

The law of physics tells us that everything has an equal and opposite reaction, so expecting to be on a high all the time and bypassing the slump is a little unbalanced. If we are to have peaks, then we will have slumps.

Part of coming up with the idea is not coming up with the idea. You need to get stuck and a little desperate to get the brain producing again. It may not feel great, but knowing this can sometimes alleviate the panic and allow us to climb back out.

3. Remember: design beats discipline

Think about this: rather than rely on people’s good conscience to get them to recycle, we design recycling bins that are conveniently located and impossible to not notice because they are so bright.

The same goes with day-to-day life: design beats discipline. Design creates more sustainable results, because the process relies less on motivation and more on natural human behaviors. Design your life to succeed.

Related: Motivational Words: 41 Quotes To Get You Pumped

4. Make it harder to fail

We constantly obsess over success, yet sometimes we need to get a little more failure-focused. Working out what are likely to be your roadblocks before you hit them can help you not get in to a slump in the first place.

Once you have identified failure points, make it harder to fail. If you are a bad saver, remove the money you would waste before it hits your bank account. If you are poor at tidying your desk, hire a cleaner who will throw anything left on it out. That way, you will force your behavior to err towards success.

5. Make it a game

Here’s one you’ve probably never heard before. Make your slump a game – the speed at which you can get out of it (and keep a running tally of slumps and how long it took you to escape in your very own Houdini game), or you could create a list of tasks you don’t want to do when you’re in a slump and give them points or ratings for degree of difficulty.

See if you can high-score yourself by making that sales call, or writing that article despite the fact that you want to crawl under a rock. Give yourself the title of slump-slayer, if that makes you smile. Whatever the game you create, the most important thing is that you play it.

6. Offer yourself a reward

It’s old school, but when nothing else is working, bribe yourself. ‘If I finish my invoicing, I can go and see a movie.’ ‘If I send these emails, I get a coffee.’ Treat yourself like a kid who doesn’t want to do something…then con yourself into doing it. Good job!

Related: 22 Great Gifts To Give Yourself

7. Appreciate the benefit of a little laziness 

Laziness can be rather useful when it we use it to create a simpler way to get a result. A lazy mindset is one of the best mindsets that we can develop.

When we’re in a slump and racking our brains to find a shortcut, we may well turn the slump into a moment of genius. So while you’re down, stop and think about how you can catch up fast.

8. Just get on with it

Just do something. It doesn’t matter what it is—getting started is often the best way to leave a slump behind. Pick something you like doing and simply begin. Don’t worry about the result for a moment—worry about the action itself. Wax on, wax off, grasshoppers!

9. Have a cry or scream or whine

If you want to throw a pity party, make it a quick one. Wallow fast, but wallow well. Wail, sob, shout, scream, huff, play the song All by Myself—do whatever it takes for a few minutes, then you can tick that box and get on with it.

Related: How To Stop Making Excuses And Start Getting Sh!t Done

10. Realize you are not alone

There is nothing wrong with you, and it does not just happen to you. You are not alone, nor are you the only person suffering from a little confidence flu right now.  “Slumpitis” is a common ailment that affects us all from time to time, and like most cases of common slumpitis, it will pass.

11. Understand most people are average, and that is OK

The self-help industry has led us all to believe that we should be superhero like achievers who defy tiredness, feelings of inadequacy or feelings of being overwhelmed in everyday life. We are led to believe that we are immune to setbacks and laugh in the face of criticism.

Because of that, when we are not uber achievers, we often call it a slump. Perhaps we are not really in a slump, but rather on a hilly road with ups and downs…and not our very own mountain, as high-achieving handbooks would have us believe.

12. Fake it

The old fake-it-til-you-make-it is actually a very good idea. Go after the award for best actor and play the role of the enthusiastic person who somehow seems oblivious and gets on with it no matter that the world is crashing down all around them. It is a fun way to make a slump go away.

13. Flip the fear

If fear is stopping you, flip it. Think about what you are afraid of doing…then think about how scary not doing it could be. Write it out as a list, if it helps. By seeing the fears attached to both decisions, getting into action usually becomes a whole lot easier.

Related: How To Conquer Fear In 4 Steps

14. Watch a cute video

People swear that watching cat videos makes them feel better. Whatever helps you, try it—making yourself laugh or at least crack a smile really does help improve your mood. So do something fun!

15. Take a break

After years and years of working in deadline driven environments, I truly have learned that sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop trying to motivate, cajole, and berate yourself into action…and simply stop for the day. I do not mean altogether quit, but before things get drastic, go see some friends you like, catch a movie, do anything rather than the thing you really think you need to. Then get up early the next day (or work late).

The Takeaway

These tips are suggestions to help you recognize and accept that it’s okay to fall into a slump—after all, you’re human. Slumps are going to happen even to the best of us. Having a slump emergency plan on your wall ready is very silly and a little over prepared. But having some tips up your sleeve for the days you find yourself less than stellar is a good idea, because no matter who you are, they will happen…and that’s OK.


Kieran-Flanagan-Speaker1-296x300Kieran Flanagan is a behavioral researcher and strategist, specializing in behaviors and belief systems–what drives, motivates and influences us. Kieran Flanagan, along with her partner Dan Gregory, has won business awards around the world for Innovation, Creativity and ROI working with such organizations as Coca-Cola, Unilever, News Corp and the United Nations in Singapore. They are passionate advocates for the commercial power of creativity and a return to more human engagement, cultures and leadership. Kieran and Dan are also authors of a new book Selfish, Scared & Stupid.

Photo by patrickhruby

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