Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

How to find more motivation

It’s a common experience to feel demotivated at times. How do we find more motivation. It’s fine to have slower times in life, in fact, it’s normal. After you have had a rest, it’s time to get back to blazing a trail but there can be resistance to moving forward.

Common Problems with trying to find more motivation

Not being able to get going:

If you have difficulty getting down to a particular activity, tell your body in detail what to do.

‘Get on with it’ is too vague.

‘Legs, walk. Hand, pick up pen. Now write’, will give you the impetus to begin.

As soon as you have told yourself what to do, do it. Do not allow any pause for doubts to creep in.

Being too rigid:

Your plan is a guide, not a god. It is not carved on stone tablets. It is there to help you, not to rule your life.

Something unexpected may happen to throw you off schedule (for example, a friend drops in unexpectedly, or the washing-machine breaks down).

At this point, you may feel that your efforts to plan your day have been wasted, unless you can stick to what you have planned, you might just as well not bother.

Coping with the unexpected:

Accept the disruption -That things have not worked out the way you thought they would and continue with your original plan when you can (for example, your friend leaves at 4 o’clock, what did you have scheduled for that time?)

Think of alternatives -Some of the activities you have planned may depend on factors beyond your control, such as the weather or other people’s health.

Supposing, for example, you plan a picnic, have something up your sleeve in case it rains. Or supposing you had planned to spend the weekend with an old friend and at the last minute she comes down with flu, look for an alternative that you will enjoy, rather than giving up and doing nothing in particular.

Do not try to make up for the things you have missed –

If for some reason you cannot do what you had planned at a particular time (you wanted to clean the bedroom and ended up talking to your son about his holiday plans), do not go back and try to do it later. Move on to the next activity on your plan, and re-schedule what you missed for next day.

Similarly, if you find that you finish an activity sooner than planned, leave your next activity until the time you had scheduled.

To find more motivation, Fill the gap with something you enjoy.

You may find it useful to have a list of pleasurable activities handy so that you have something to choose from.

Being too specific or too general –

You need not write down what you intend to do in nit-picking detail – this can prevent you finding more motivation.

Listing every piece of furniture and ornament you have to dust is too specific. Equally, do not be too general. ‘Housework’, for example, is too general for you to feel clear about what it is that you are aiming to do, so you will not know when you have achieved your goal.

Schedule your activities roughly by the hour or half-hour. Experience will tell you how long each activity is likely to take.

Planning for quality, not quantity –

Find more motivation by writing down the amount of time you are going to spend on a particular activity, not how much you are going to do in that time. Set aside the time, structure is important.

When the time is up, stop –

How much you do in a given period may depend on factors outside your control (e.g. interruptions, machines breaking down), or on other problems (e.g. concentration difficulties, fatigue).

If you tell yourself you must weed the whole garden this afternoon and you do not do it, you will probably think of yourself as a failure and give yourself no credit for what you have done.

If on the other hand, you set yourself to weed for an hour, then how much you do is neither here nor there.

Reward the effort, not the outcome.

Expecting miracles –

Your immediate goal is to carry out what you have planned as best you can, not to get over your low mood. If your expectations are too high you will end up procrastinating.

You will probably feel stressed/sad/guilty when you are doing some things than when you are doing others. If you work steadily at becoming more active, you will eventually feel better.

But no single thing you do is likely to produce a miracle cure.

Don’t expect to be over your bad habits (depression/low mood) after an hour’s television, or cleaning out the cupboard under the stairs. If you do, you will only disappoint yourself.

Stopping when the going gets tough –

Quit an activity when you are winning, not when you have exhausted yourself, or when things are going badly.

This will leave you feeling good about what you have achieved and ready to carry on.


At times, you have to force yourself to get going. We all want an easy life and neuroscience supports this. Our brains want to keep us safe and in our comfort zone. It takes effort to confront change and push forward. You can do it!