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5 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You’re Feeling Stuck

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Here’s how to rediscover what drives you.

For some, feeling unmotivated and uninspired is a daily struggle. In essence, motivation is energized and persistent goal-directed behavior. When we are energized, we move and take action. Seemingly simple things like getting out of bed, taking a shower or responding to an email can feel overwhelming. Negative thoughts like, “I don’t deserve that, “I can’t do that,” or “I’m not capable” are often drivers for a lack of motivation. Such thoughts contribute to feeling stuck, depressed and anxious, with confidence and self-esteem suffering.

To combat these feelings, studies show that building mastery—becoming skilled at things that make us feel competent and in control—is linked to increased motivation and well-being. Here are five tips to increase motivation.

1. Make a manageable list of things you’ve put off.

Commit to doing one chore or task. Have a little momentum? Do the next one. Take notice of the feeling that follows as you build mastery.

2. Do one thing at a time.

When we do too many activities at once, we tend to slow down and burn out. Pick one activity and concentrate on it.

3. Cope with distractions in a positive way.

Try not to get frustrated with distractions. When your mind is drifting, simply bring yourself back to the present moment.

4. Discover what motivates you.

If you can figure out the reason why you have certain goals, following through with them becomes easier. Maybe you want to go to college, get a new job or be a great partner. Whatever you want, whatever is important to you, write it down and refer to it often.

5. Stick with it.

Developing a skill takes time—don’t get discouraged if you need practice.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Paula Durlofsky.

Paula Durlofsky, PhD is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Bryn Mawr. As a practicing therapist for over 18 years, Dr. Durlofsky helps individuals, couples and families reach their full potential for leading lives with passion and purpose. She is also affiliated with Bryn Mawr Hospital, Lankenau Medical Center, the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia and the Women’s Resource Center. Her expert opinions, shared through “Thinking Forward” are based on over two decades of clinical experience and training. Her expertise has been featured in Marie ClaireTeen Vogue, APA’s Monitor on PsychologyExceptional Parenting MagazineMain Line Health, Psych Central, as well as at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and on ABC 10-KXTV.