Some days I just don’t feel like doing life.
It takes too much energy to think. I woke up with a headache. I’m stressed about something. Whatever. My the energy and motivation are low, and I wish I could ignore the day’s responsibilities and veg out on the couch.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.
Maybe all I need are some tough motivational saying like these:
Show up, even when you don’t feel like it.
One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Or maybe annoying motivational sayings just make me feel guilty, which makes me grumpier and less motivated than ever.
Unfortunately, the responsibilities of the day won’t go away just because I don’t feel like facing them, so here are a few strategies I have found helpful.
Start with God.
When we don’t feel like facing life, we often don’t feel like facing God either. But the less we feel up to the day, the more we need God’s help. Let him know how weak, anxious, bewildered or frustrated you’re feeling. Tell him all the impossible tasks you need to face. Ask him for the peace and wisdom to move forward.
Admit you aren’t feeling on top of your game. Admit this may not be a super-productive day. Give yourself permission to be sluggish and grumpy, but then start doing something anyway. However…
Avoid the temptation to fill the day with busywork just to feel productive. There is a balance here. On the one hand, completing a simple task or two can help you find the motivation to get started and work through the fog. On the other hand, avoiding what really needs to be done by doing a bunch of easier but less important tasks won’t help matters in the long run. Identify your most important task of the day and look for a small but doable subtask you can begin. Make one call. Write one paragraph. Tackle one pile. When you’ve accomplished that small task, pat yourself on the back, and start another one.
Acknowledge the feelings.
Sometimes your lack of motivation is due to anxiety or fear. You’re upset over last night’s argument. You’re secretly afraid the task in front of you will take way too long, or that you don’t have what it takes to do it well. Time to meet those feelings head on. Put them into actual words. Either write them out in your journal, or say them out loud. (Choose a chair or a potted plant and talk to it like you were telling an actual human.) Once your feelings are out in the open, take an objective look at what you can do about them.
Listen to your body.
We all have down days, but if we feel rotten day after day it’s time to consider what else is going on. Sometimes the best way to improve our productivity is to take the day off. Give your weary body time to catch up on sleep. Go for a long, restorative walk in the park. Spend a day considering how your priorities, needs, and values may be clashing. Self-care is not a frivolous extra, it’s key to living an intentional, productive life. If your body is forcing you to slow down, maybe it’s time to listen.