Something happens when you hit adulthood. Just as you gain the freedom of independence and start to hit your stride, your energy to pursue the things you love seems to dip. Whether it’s work, children, study or otherwise, maintaining motivation seems to become a task in itself.
Evenings become a list of uninspiring things to do – laundry, tidying, washing up, paying bills. By the time you’re done, you’re too tired to consider doing anything remotely enjoyable.
I have been stuck in this rut for a few weeks now. I’ve been going to bed late, and waking up tired. The most amount of exercise I’ve been getting is the walk from my desk to the office kitchen. As a result, I’m slow, irritable and frankly, feeling like a lump of lethargy just going through the motions.
And I’m not the only one.
Other people I’ve spoken to voice a similar lack of motivation. They want to pursue their passions, or engage in something productive – but by the time they’ve worked, commuted and fed themselves, there’s no enthusiasm left.
We share the things we wish we had ‘time’ to do – playing an instrument, creating something, learning to cook fancy things. The conversation ends as we lament: “Adulthood, eh?”.
But there are plenty of people out there getting shit done, who have the same or more responsibilities. If any of this is resonating with you, you’ve probably realised that there will come a point where you need to take decisive action.
Takeaway: You might have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce, but she also has a mahoosive army of people to help out. Cut yourself some slack – it’s normal to hit a lethargy lull.
Setting realistic expectations
I have some of my best ideas at work. Jolts of interesting topics to write about, a new song to learn, a class to attend, an exercise to try.
What is it about being most enthused by something, just as you can’t actually do it?
Aside from feeling most alert between 10am and 1pm, a part of me has a theory that it’s precisely because I’m restricted from doing that thing that it seems so appealing at the time. When it comes to putting my money where my mouth is… that’s where things break down. The excuses come out.
Thinking of doing something is one thing, actually carrying it out is another. To me, it feels like the same process as making sociable plans, only to feel like cancelling them as the time rolls around.
The other thing is, I LOVE a list. I tend to enthusiastically write my plans for the evening at my desk at work. Before I know it, I’ve got 5 or 6 things on the list I want to accomplish before I go to bed.
“Sure, even though I’m finishing work late tonight, I can definitely work out, do my chores, work out and finish that baby blanket I’ve been making!”
I think where I’m generally a creative person, I feel I should spend my evenings engaging in the activities I love. I also feel that if I don’t put it on my ‘to do’ list, I’ll simply forget, or get wrapped up in something else. Or just scroll on Instagram for the best part of my evening.
This list-making has turned into a bit of a bad habit. More often than not, I’ll get halfway through my evening and there’ll still be 3 or so things on the list. The Post-It note gets thrown away and I resign myself to another night where I didn’t get through everything I wanted to do.
Takeaway: Are you being too ambitious? Make sure your goals are realistic and you’re not trying to squeeze in too much.
Finding motivation with small changes
If that last part doesn’t sound like you at all, and you’re more in the frame of mind where you’re just knackered in your spare time, it might be time to go back to basics.
If you’ve been in a rut for a while, this isn’t going to be easy. In the UK, the evenings are drawing in faster, which can make it even harder to feel motivated.
With that in mind, here are some things I’ve noticed:
- I am not drinking enough water
It is so simple, but here we are. Hydration is intrinsically linked to how our bodies feel – and it’s probably a major reason why I don’t feel like exercising.
- Not eating enough protein
As a veggie, I have to be quite vigilant about this. Of late, my meals have been increasingly of the beige persuasion.
- Late night phone sessions
The definition of wasted time. Blue light = bad sleep. Time for some self-discipline.
- Little-to-no exercise
Exercise = endorphins. Not doing any, along with eating badly, is only going to make me feel worse. For this one, I honestly just need to get my shit together.
These are just some of the things I could be doing.
Abandoning the bad habits and replacing them with good ones takes some effort and motivation. When you’ve not got any get-up-and-go to begin with, this can feel a bit like you’re going round in circles, even if rationally you realise that something’s got to give.
So start small.
I’m not about to try and change all of those things at once. For the time being, I know I can definitely up my intake of water while at work. In my evenings, I’ll work on not pointlessly bumming around on my phone til midnight.
You have to start somewhere – small steps are still progress, and you can build from there.
Takeaway: Check in with yourself – what habits have you formed that aren’t doing you any favours? What new ones could you work on that would give you more satisfaction?
Let me know if you’re scaling things back, or building things up, @positivepensive 🙂