Why you’ll fail to Self-Motivate…

…and what to do instead.

Most of us think that self-motivation is all about willpower. And having the strength to overcome resistance and procrastination.

Those of you, including myself, who already tried to force motivation, know how draining and exhausting this can be.

And to be quite honest with you, I’m done with forcing things in my life!

It has costed me already too much. And I haven’t gained anything in return.

So now, in all areas of my life, I’m looking for a much softer approach how to overcome challenges or obstacles. And I’m looking for ways how I can work with myself instead of against myself.

And it’s working!

Does this mean I sit down at my desk full of motivation and joy every single day? Heck no!

But when de-motivation or procrastination kicks in, I know now what to do better.

First of all, I banned all this bad talking about myself.

No, I’m not weak, and I don’t lack self discipline. No, I’m not too stupid or too unexperienced. I’m just a human being getting through life’s challenges and ups and downs.

Second, I’m also a very pragmatic person who wants to know how to get out of an unwanted situation. As fast and as pain-free as possible, por favor.

So after many trial and error attempts, here’s what works best for me when I need a little motivation booster.

#1 Re-connect to your Why

Whenever my motivation runs low, or I have a hard time getting started with something, I take a moment and to re-connect to what’s the Why behind this task.

So when I struggle and procrastinate getting something done, e.g. writing a new blog, filming another video, starting a new project from scratch, I remind myself why I’m doing all of this.

I remind myself that it’s not about this single article or video, it’s about supporting other people in creating a thriving life. And it’s about “leading by example”.

Recalling this deeper motivation is what makes it easier to get started. Because it’s not any longer about the task itself, it’s about your deeper motivation and inspiration.

#2 Stop waiting to feel motivated

We often make the mistake to think we need to feel motivated before we can get started. Well, that’s wishful thinking. And it’s also not necessary.

The one thing that is important to know, that by taking action, by sitting down at your desk and writing the first paragraphs, by actually making the call or having the inconvenient conversation we postponed so often, that by actually doing something our feelings will start to shift.

It will start to shift to a sense of accomplishment, to a feeling of satisfaction and often even joy.

So instead of waiting to feel motivated, enjoy the anticipation of feeling this sense of accomplishment, pride and satisfaction once you get into action.

#3 There’s no one-size-fits-all

When feeling de-motivated around a certain task, dig a little deeper. What’s the nature of this specific lack of motivation?

Is this task too complicated?

Is this task too boring?

Are you overwhelmed confused where to start out?

Once you understand the nature of this specific case of demotivation, you’ll be able to find the right remedy.

It’s too complicated, then ask for help. Get other people on board. You don’t always have to manage and overcome everything on your own.

Is it too boring, then add some special, uplifting, treats. Why not take your laptop to a nice cafe and get your work done there, while enjoying a delicious carrot cake and cappuccino? Why not putting on your favourite music while doing the dishes? Why not creating a fun competition around a task together with others, maybe when learning for a test or working on a project?

Is it overwhelm and confusion that holds you back from getting started, then don’t start with the task itself, start with creating a structure. Break down the task in several mini-tasks. Start writing actionable to-do lists. For each day, each week and maybe even the next months to come. Creating your own structure before even getting started is key to approach overwhelming or vague tasks.

#4 Know your tolerance level

A big mistake is not respecting our individual tolerance level.

So we finally took action, we started something that took some effort, felt scary or complicated and then we risk ruining it by over-stepping our tolerance level.

My big advice is, start small and grow big over time. You need to learn for a complicated test or start a brand new, pretty challenging work project? Then start small. Start with 15 minutes per day. Then 30. Then one hour. Extend your tolerance level, step by step.

As you would do in sports. You wouldn’t start preparing for a marathon by running 10 k on your first training day, right?

You would start slow, depending on the shape you’re in right now. And build up over time.

The same applies to new, complicated, intimidating and even boring tasks. Build up your level of engagement over time.

#5 Disconnect from Social

Last but not least, disconnect. Radically disconnect from your your Social Media platforms for the time you chose to dedicate to this task.

Put your smartphone on flight mode for this half an hour, or leave it in another room. Close your facebook page and all the other attention-quick-sand-platforms to not even tempt yourself.

Because what’s really draining in this whole motivation process is if you constantly need to re-connect because you broke the workflow every time you experience a slight dip.

So give your mind the chance to remain focused on doing one thing at a time. At least for half an hour. This will be like a vacation for your over-stimulated mind and you’ll be rewarded with some pretty nice work progress. I promise.


  1. Lavon says:

    Thanks for the great manual

  2. Tabitha says:

    This is truly useful, thanks.

  3. Angela says:

    Thank you for the excellent article

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