Stumbling Block Series: Don’t Wait for Inspiration: 5 Ways to Boost Your Motivation

Have you ever had a big idea but then you just don’t even start – you are waiting for that rush of inspiration that just never seems to come… and because you feel  uninspired, you can’t move forward.

Because of this, we say, it must not be the right time or this idea isn’t any good – if it was, I’d be motivated. We wait and wait waiting for a sign…thinking that at some point, miraculously inspiration will strike like a bolt of lightning – that’s all we need is just that motivation.

But here’s a little hard truth, we don’t need motivation to start moving forward.  It’s true that you can’t force inspiration and motivation, but too often we blame our inability to work on a mental block and quit to do something else without returning to the work again.

That’s what we’re talking about this week in Episode 070 of the Productivity Paradox podcast, and here, I’ll give you the rundown of how you can create your OWN motivation.

Let’s get started!




We’re surrounded by devices that are designed to grab our attention and make everything feel urgent, so we exhaust ourselves and give in to the lack of motivation and drive.

We need to figure out how to put gas back in our tank, and I’m confident that these 5 different ways will be a huge help to you.


1 – Take more breaks

Ron Friedman recommends taking regular breaks throughout your day like taking a walk, having lunch away from your desk, anything that gets you to step away from your computer and reexamine the big picture.

“It’s often in the intervals between thinking really hard about a problem and then stepping away that solutions become apparent.” – Ron Friedman

Plan something interesting that you can look forward to. We know anticipation is often the most enjoyable part of an experience, so scheduling a restorative experience that you can look forward to will often reignite your motivation.

Research shows that doing an activity you find interesting, even if it uses mental or physical energy, is better for you than just relaxing on the couch and watching TV. Doing something that challenges your brain will ultimately give you more energy.

Take a long weekend regularly. Studies show we actually get a much greater benefit from regularly taking a three or four day weekend rather than a two week vacation once a year.

While you’re out, don’t check in with work. Completely let go and combine it will the above tip of doing something interesting with that time.


2 – Use past experiences as motivation

In a study of college students, researchers found that asking students to think of a positive memory of exercising in the past made the students more motivated to exercise in the future and more likely to act on that motivation and exercise more, without an external encouragement from the researchers.

Another group was asked to think of a negative memory of exercising the past – this also caused the students to start exercising more!

According to the study, thinking about any memory, positive or negative, of exercising in the past can provide motivation to exercise in the future.

This is can be very similar to visualization, where you want to remember as many details as possible about your memory – when was it, where, how did you feel before and after exercising?

Think of times in the past when you’ve completed similar work. How did you feel once the work was completed?


3 – Create a pre-game or pre-work routine

Athletes don’t always feel like playing every scheduled game, so many of them have a pre-game routine they go through to get themselves into game mode, even if they don’t feel like it.

If you can create a routine that you always do before a certain type of work, this primes your brain, just like an evening routine primes your brain for sleep.

Rules for your routine:

  • Make it easy enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re putting in a ton of effort to go through the routine. It could be as simple as drinking a glass of water and putting on a specific playlist.
  • Include some physical movement. Even if the task doesn’t require physical movement, moving around a little and even doing some stretches helps your body wake up and get blood pumping, which helps get your brain out of an unmotivated slump.
  • Repeat it every time so your routine starts to feel natural and connected to the work that comes after it. The routine will start to take over and put your mind and body in the right place.


4 – Create a sense of team work, even if you’re working alone.

A study on teams enhancing performance split participants into two groups and gave everyone a puzzle to work on. Participants in group one were told they’d be working in teams and were introduced to their teammates before working on the puzzle alone. The other group was told they’d be working alone and didn’t meet any teammates. While working on the puzzle, those in the team group were given handwritten notes from their teammates (really though, they were from the researchers). The study found that those who thought they were part of a team worked 50% longer on trying to solve the puzzle and found the puzzle to be more fun and interesting than participants who were told they were working alone, even though in reality all of the participants were working alone.

You should also create accountability by finding a support network and asking others to hold you accountable to your goal will help you along the way, even if you’re not feeling like working on your goal.
Ask for help when you don’t feel motivated by calling on that support network and telling them what you’re having trouble with and ask for help and advice. Ask them to hold you accountable to completing the next, smallest possible step.


5 – Start really small

Sometimes we get too caught up in the big picture, and de-motivate ourselves because we think we have to do everything all at once. Instead, complete the smallest steps possible. If you want to get healthier through exercise try committing to a five minute walk outside to start, instead of hour long workouts. Make the commitments so small that you can’t fail.

Commit to just one goal. If you’re trying to accomplish six goals at once, you can easily become overwhelmed and lose motivation, energy, and focus. Pick one goal and focus completely on it for now. You can always return to your other goals when your first goal is completed.

Build on those small successes. Once you’re reliably completing those small steps you can up the challenge a little bit. Try five minutes of walking and two minutes of jogging. Or, if your challenge is work, just work for five minutes at a time and take a break. Then, build that to 15 minutes. The key is to reward yourself so you feel successful, even if in the big picture it doesn’t feel like those small steps amount to much.

When feeling uninspired, focus on the benefits, not the difficulties.

This goes back to thinking too much about the big picture and everything that possibly needs done and what trouble you could run into along the way. Instead, think about what you’ll get once the goal is accomplished. Think about how good you’ll feel when you’re done, and those benefits will energize you to keep going.

Go back to your WHY and connect your current assignment with a larger personal goal. Focus on why the work matters to you and you’ll find some extra motivation to get through your work.

Stop Waiting for inspiration – make it happen for yourself.


What’s Next?

If you found this post helpful, you’ll want to listen to episode 070 of the podcast (on iTunes + Stitcher!) because I also go over the surprising way giving yourself boundaries can allow freedom into your life. It sounds contradictory, but trust me, we need a little direction, deadlines and timed tasks to succeed. I’ve also designed a FREE download that will help – the Get Yourself Motivated worksheet will help you make an action plan to boost motivation and inspiration through creating routines and habits – soon enough it will feel second nature!

CLICK HERE to get your FREE download sent right to your inbox now.

Find out more on the Productivity Paradox podcast!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton