There are days when you can conquer anything.
You could run straight up the side of a mountain to the top and still have the energy to spare. Then there are days where you feel exhausted, with zero motivation to even look at your to-do list. You feel unproductive and have no desire to do anything. So how do you push past that feeling to find the motivation to be productive even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing?
In this article, Jay Shetty unpacks 10 different principles you can put into practice when you need to accomplish your to-do list but struggle to find the energy or motivation to do so.
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivators
There are two types of motivators that Jay Shetty says can help move us towards completing tasks on our to-do lists – extrinsic and intrinsic. What is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators?
Extrinsic motivators are tied to external, tangible things you want to obtain. You do something because you want to buy a house or a car. Maybe you want to take a vacation somewhere exotic. The things you want, keep you motivated to finish the task, but once you achieve those goals, your motivation dwindles.
Intrinsic motivation creates more persistence because internal rewards drive it. You are motivated by the satisfaction you feel from completing the task. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, Jay Shetty suggests asking yourself if your lack of motivation stems from an insufficient external reward.
“You may be one of those people who is happy where they are,” explains Jay Shetty. “You don’t want more money or a bigger house. You’re happy with what you have. That is okay, but we still have to get joy from what we do. You need to remind yourself of that intrinsic motivator, the why behind what you are doing.”
It is essential to plan your day and put everything you need to do that day into your schedule. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
“It’s easy to miss the stuff you don’t feel like doing if you don’t schedule it,” Jay Shetty shares. “When it is in my calendar, I know I need to get it done.”
Putting things off that you don’t feel like doing is harder to do if it’s positioned in a set timeframe in your schedule to get it done. The longer you push it off, the harder it becomes to get it complete.
Make sure everything goes in your schedule. As you cross those items you want to get done off your list, you’ll more easily stay on track.
Make a Plan for the Voice in Your Head
We all have that little voice in our heads that contradicts our decisions. You decide to eat healthily, and it tells you that one little slice of cake won’t hurt. You set your alarm to get up early to go to the gym, and it whispers to go back to sleep. It meets you with opposition, and you have the choice to listen to it. Jay Shetty states that doing so often leads to regret or self-criticism.
So how do you overcome the voice in your head that talks you out of doing the things you know you need to do? You create a script on how you will deal with that voice.
“One thing I did when I lived as a monk is for every emotion I felt that I didn’t want to feel like arrogance, I created a script,” Jay Shetty shares. “When the voice in my head would start saying ‘Don’t wake up for today’s meditation’, or ‘You are okay to have a big ego’, I would create a script. I would write it out, then practice it. I would even role play so that when that voice came up in my head, I had a script to combat it with. When my mind says ‘[You don’t need to go to the gym’, my script says, ‘You always feel amazing when you leave’. My script says ‘You want to be fit and healthy to serve’. My script says, ‘If you don’t work out today, you will regret it tomorrow’.”
Arm yourself with responses to the voice trying to hold you back. When you understand your weaknesses, you can create strength to debate them. You know how to talk to yourself when you don’t feel like doing anything. Your words will give you the power to drown out that voice.
Push Through and Measure How You Feel After
When a situation arises and you struggle to find the motivation to complete your tasks, try to focus on how you will feel after you accomplish the task, and push through to get it done.
“The mind holds on to negative memories and negative experiences stronger than positive ones,” Jay Shetty explains. “This is why it’s so important to take a mental picture or physical picture and journal about positive experiences.”
It is human nature to tell people about the things that go wrong instead of when things go right. If you had a bad experience on the drive to work, you are more likely to mention it to your co-workers than if the drive was flawless. We tend to remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones.
“We have to make our positive experiences more powerful and memorable,” Jay Shetty shares. “We have to create stories through the challenging experiences of what we learned from that scenario, or at least learn to laugh.”
When you remind yourself of how good you feel after completing a task, you deepen your understanding of why it is beneficial.
Look at the Big Picture
Sometimes you need to put things into perspective. You may not feel like doing something at the moment, but it makes sense when you zoom out to see the bigger picture.
“There are so many times when I get asked to do something last minute, or I have to work late or on a weekend and the truth is I don’t want to,” explains Jay Shetty. “I don’t feel like it. But when I zoom out I can see that it connects perfectly with what I’m trying to do next month, so I should definitely do it.”
It comes down to seeing the big picture and not just what is in the moment. How will you feel in the long run if you put aside the feelings of not wanting to do it and go for it? Your emotions can distract you from things you should do. If you let those feelings distract you, you may never learn the lessons you need to know.
If you are going to do something, create accountability for yourself. Find a partner who will encourage or push you along the way. Someone who will show up for you when you don’t feel like showing up for yourself.
Ideally, find someone to walk the journey with you, someone who’s a little more ahead of you on the journey. Jay Shetty says he would cancel going to the gym every day if he was doing it independently, but because he’s doing it with his trainer, he has to show up.
Give Yourself a Break
You will have days where even the best-laid plans and intentions don’t go as planned. You can’t control how you feel every day. There will be days when you need to take a breath and breathe.
Everyone deserves a break, says Jay Shetty. It can be a walk through nature, some time to meditate, or lunch at your favorite spot. Whatever it is, taking time to reward yourself will re-energize your motivation to power through the day.
Sometimes, you can’t summon the motivation and desire to get everything done. If there is a task that you consistently fail at completing, it is okay to outsource it. If it keeps the peace in your life to give that task to someone else to tackle, by all means, says Jay Shetty, do it.
It is easy to get complacent and think about the things you don’t want to do anymore, but you need to remember that at one point, it was something that held importance in your life. Have gratitude. It doesn’t mean you need to stay in that place forever. Be grateful for the opportunity to grow.
“If you’re not grateful for the dream you used to have or that you have now, the next dream won’t satisfy you either,” Jay Shetty explains. “How do you get something done even when you don’t feel like it? You feel grateful for the opportunity.”
Announce Your Intention
When you have set your mind on something, announce your intention to others. This creates public excitement and builds accountability for you to stay committed.
We all have those moments when we just don’t feel like doing things, but these 10 tips will help you find your motivation when it is lacking. Push past the voice that says you can’t, and be productive. Don’t let lack of motivation hold you back from achieving the things in life you deserve.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on Ten Ways to Get Things Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me