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Feeling lacklustre? Here’s how to get your va-va-voom back

Whether it’s mustering the energy to slip your trainers on and exercise, clean your house or finish a work project, we all have blips in our motivation levels.

Jenine Butroid, psychotherapist and founder of counselling organisation Supporting Minds, says: ‘At times we all struggle to feel motivated, especially if we’re fatigued, have received negative feedback or are finding it difficult to see progress.

‘But getting our drive back on track is important. Motivation allows us to achieve our goals and fosters a sense of purpose in life. Letting it slip gets in the way of us achieving our long-term goals. It can impact our work, relationships and even our health.’

So what can we do when our motivation levels have dipped?

Here’s how to get your motivation mojo back…

Break goals down and minimise distractions

Research suggests that even making tiny achievements towards our goals can help boost our motivation levels.

Jenine says: ‘Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps and remove distractions. One way might be to set a 20-minute timer on your phone. During this time, focus solely on what you’re doing without checking emails, messages or social media, before giving yourself a five-minute break. If 20 minutes seems too much, start with 10. Often with motivation, it’s getting started that we struggle with most, but once we begin ticking tasks off our list, we gain momentum to keep going.’

Create consistent routines

‘When we’re struggling to motivate ourselves, consistency is key and this is where routine can help. Research suggests that setting and sticking to small routines helps increase feelings of self-discipline. For example, if we’re struggling to motivate ourselves to go jogging, we might walk 1km every evening. Once we’re in the habit of getting out the door each night — which is half the battle — we’re likely to be more motivated to increase our pace from a walk to a gentle jog.’

Make yourself accountable

‘When struggling to feel motivated, ask yourself: What’s holding me back? Why am I struggling and is my reason valid?

‘For example, we might tell ourselves that we don’t have the energy to exercise, yet research shows that exercising regularly gives us energy.

‘Another way to keep motivation levels high might 
be asking a friend to check in on how your goal is going, or 
to even do it with you. Having an accountability partner makes a huge difference when it comes to motivating us to stick to our goals.’

Reward yourself

‘Reflecting on your progress and rewarding yourself regularly is really important in motivation. But the key is to make sure the reward is healthy. It’s better to treat yourself to a magazine at the end of the week than a bottle of wine, which may leave you feeling flat and demotivated the next day. You might even pair a job you don’t want to do with a reward — for example, cleaning the bathroom while listening to a comedy podcast, or watching your favourite TV programme while doing weights in the lounge.’

Remind yourself why it matters

‘When there’s something we don’t want to do, remind yourself why you’re doing it. Ask yourself: How will this benefit me? For example, will it earn me money or make someone I love happy? Will it help me achieve something or reduce stress? By picturing the end result or emotion, we’ll 
feel motivated to keep going.’

Boost, don’t berate yourself

‘When we lose motivation, it’s easy to slip into negative self-talk, but research has shown that being compassionate towards ourselves is much more useful in self-motivating. Saying to yourself: Come on, you can do this. Just make a start… is more likely to yield results than saying: Why can’t you do this? You’re wasting time. Think about how you’d encourage a friend and treat yourself the same way.’


‘Most importantly, take some time out. Society doesn’t make it easy for us to rest, but even the most driven person in the world can’t feel motivated the whole time. It might seem counterintuitive when you need to get things done, but you’ll be surprised how much more productive and focused you are after some distance, fresh perspective and time to yourself.’

Edited by Stephanie May


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