Do you ever feel unmotivated? That you aren’t living your life to the fullest? In the hustle and bustle of modern living, it can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle to get on with the things you care about the most.
We live in a society that condemns ‘laziness’, and yet we’re bombarded with technology and products that promise to do everything for us, leading us to feel unfulfilled and unmotivated.
It’s Time To Take Back Control
The most frustrating part of feeling unmotivated is that it is part of a vicious cycle of behaviour. We feel unmotivated, so we don’t get things done.
And then we feel bad about not getting things done, so we label ourselves as a failure. Which leads us right back to feeling unmotivated and aimless.
To break out of this unhappy cycle, you need to change the mindset that got you there in the first place. All change, big and small, begins in mind.
If your mindset is negative, then you’re already setting yourself up for failure. You are setting yourself up to be unmotivated.
You have the potential to live an outstanding life, but first thing’s first: we need to get you in the right headspace.
Perhaps you’re struggling with menial day-to-day tasks, or you can’t kick yourself into gear in your professional life. Or you can’t seem to get started on that personal project you’ve been thinking about.
All areas of life can be negatively affected by an unproductive mindset. When you change your mindset, remove the mental block, then you’ll start noticing big changes.
Here is a guide to kickstart your brain into a happier, more productive mode so you can stop putting it off, stop being unmotivated and start living your best life today.
Find Your Passion
The first step towards adjusting your mindset is to find your passion. There is no point trying to trick yourself into caring. If you’re not interested, your brain will struggle to stay motivated.
Find your focus and motivation will follow.
This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people spend their lives trying to force themselves into a productive mindset without ever considering whether the end goal is something they care about. And they stay unmotivated.
When we say ‘passion’, we don’t mean that everyone must have an underlying all-consuming desire to save turtles in Costa Rica. Although if you do, good on you but remember the sunscreen!
But everyone has things they care about. And it’s a great place to start when you’re feeling down and unmotivated. Dedicate some time to quietly sitting down with a pen and paper, and working out what makes you tick.
The Importance of Pleasure Sources
We are not born with an innate, singular passion. There are probably many, many things that could potentially be your passion, and these will change and evolve over time.
The first step for discovering your passion, and thereby change your mindset, is to re-route your pleasure sources. By this, we are referring to dopamine.
This is the chemical in the brain, called a neurotransmitter, that produces feelings of pleasure when it is released.
Today, it’s easy to get a dopamine fix while being in a relatively passive state. We can watch TV on demand, browse the internet for hours, drink, smoke and eat readymade food that takes just minutes to prepare.
What do all these sources of pleasure have in common? They require no action on our part.
We are not putting any work into creating something, but we are receiving the pleasure sensation anyway. The brain feels like it has received a reward without having to put in any effort to feel that pleasure.
Sadly, and maybe surprisingly, this is the basis of addiction, not passion.
If you reduce your consumption of these pleasure sources, your brain will be forced to find dopamine elsewhere.
By limiting the amount of TV, internet, junk food, alcohol or drug consumption, you will start to notice other things that please you. And so you’ll be on track to discovering what you’re genuinely passionate about.
The next step is merely to try out lots of different things. Compile a list of hobbies that seem even remotely interesting to you, and give them a go.
Photography, dance, gardening, cooking, walking, playing sport and drawing are all hobbies with lots of branches leading off into different directions. So why not give one of them a go?
If it turns out you’re not that interested, move on to something else. These are all creative ways to help you find your passion, which will stimulate the dopamine that your brain needs to stay focused and motivated.
Once you’ve reduced the amount of dopamine you receive from passive consumption and start embracing more creative outlets, whatever they may be, your mindset will automatically shift into a more positive and productive gear.
And other areas in your life will start to benefit from the effects.
Change Negative Habits
We’re not born with an unproductive mindset, so what is at the root of this self-limiting way of thinking?
The answer is simple, although not always easy to hear: negative habits. We’re not talking here about the surface habits you might have picked up over time.
Things like nail-biting, swearing or dependence on addictive substances. Although you can apply the following advice to these habits, too.
No, we are talking about the negative thought patterns that have been visited so often that they have become habits. Habitual negative thinking is at the core of all your unproductive behaviour. And, just like any habit, it can be broken.
If you’re serious about getting rid of your unproductive mindset, you need to be completely honest with yourself about the negative thoughts that have got you to this point.
Habitually negative thoughts can lead to a negative perception of self, and a misguided sense of purpose or lack thereof. A life purpose or passion has the power to boost your productivity and direction, but to do that, you must start small.
To break out of old ways of thinking that are holding you back, follow these four steps.
Distance Yourself from Your Thoughts
Negative thoughts limit your capacity to grow, change and achieve the life you deserve. If you force yourself to stand witness to your negative thoughts and separate yourself and your potential from them, you are already on the way to getting rid of them.
Be Honest With Yourself
Look at the thoughts that you have just written down. This will enable you to compartmentalise and see that these are just thoughts. They are not you.
You might find it helpful to write down all the thoughts and feelings you have about yourself. You may well discover that you have been holding on to negative thoughts about yourself for a long time.
Being conscious of the fact that you are not your thoughts is a crucial step on the path to self-discovery and becoming more productive.
Discard Thoughts That Aren’t Helpful
Once you’ve compartmentalised these negative thoughts, it’s time to pick and choose which ones you want to act on. If a thought isn’t positively serving you, you can choose to ignore it.
This is simple, but not easy, and takes time and practice to get right. But merely becoming aware of the negative thoughts in the first place is a great starting point.
Be Kind To Yourself
All our behaviour stems from our sense of self and self-worth. And with a low sense of self-worth comes a negative and unproductive mindset.
And this, in turn, leads to behaviour that doesn’t serve your best interests. Stop judging yourself or feeling bad for having the thoughts you do.
Instead, try to treat yourself with the compassion and understanding you would have for a friend or loved one. This will put you in a commanding position for dealing with a negative mindset, and put you on the right track for a happier and healthier life.
Practise Self Love
Often, we condemn ourselves for being lazy or unproductive. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, this attitude will get you nowhere for actually changing your behaviour.
You can be hard on yourself for your perceived shortcomings, or you can practise self-love.
And we don’t mean the kind of self-love you might have heard of. I am not referring to looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how beautiful you are.
No, I am talking about the art of giving yourself a break.
Once you start practising self-love, you will start to notice your mindset will relax and you will become freer to get out and DO, rather than floundering in a state of unproductive limbo.
Here are five outstanding tips for how to best practise self-love and regain control of your mindset:
Manage Your Expectations
A vital part of self-love is to manage your expectations and not to set yourself unrealistically high standards. Expecting too much of yourself will only set you on the path to disappointment.
And this fuels the negative image of yourself that you already have in your mind.
There is no such thing as perfect. Instead of being hard on yourself, learn to accept your natural imperfection. You’ll feel more relaxed and able to get on with things.
Avoid doing too much at once. Yes, multitasking is lauded as a valuable skill.
But doing lots of things at the same time means that nothing will have your full attention so that nothing can get done properly. Take your time, start small and dedicate your mind to one task at a time.
To start acting, and stop thinking, you need to believe in yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else in the world. And you alone have the power to break out of unhelpful ways of thinking.
You need to forgive yourself for past mistakes and be completely honest with yourself about where you’ve gone wrong and where you want to be. Once you trust yourself, positivity and productivity will follow.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
True confidence begins when you stop caring what others think of you. Or, more accurately, what you perceive others think of you.
Stop looking for external validation. You are the only validation you need, and you are the only one who has the right to judge yourself.
Make Time for Yourself
In the hectic world, we live in; our happiness can take a back seat to seemingly more pressing matters. But your finances, career, social life and personal projects will all suffer if you don’t take a moment to relax and enjoy your own company.
Don’t ever feel bad about giving yourself a break to recharge and recentre. Take a bath, go for a walk, eat some of your favourite food.
Allowing yourself to relax and unwind will increase your sense of self-worth and help build a stronger, more productive mindset in your day-to-day life.
It is incredible that all your potential and capacity for happiness can be traced back to one simple thing: your mindset. This knowledge is both exciting and daunting. You and only you can change your life.
I hope you find these tips for freeing yourself from being unmotivated as a positive step in the right direction. Start small, stay positive and start living the outstanding life you deserve today.