Instead of greeting the day with a bright smile and jumping straight into your morning yoga, you hit the snooze button and curl up in the fetal position, wishing that you could just sleep all day. Instead of meeting up with friends and spending time together, you go home and stare at the ceiling. Instead of working hard at work on a new project you came up with, you barely maintain the level of work that you’re supposed to be doing. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, in that slump where you just can’t seem to motivate yourself in the slightest. No matter what the impetus behind your feeling of defeat and de-motivation, there are a few things you can do to try and get yourself out of it:
- List the Wrongs: When the little things, like a parking ticket, deadline, or social snafu trip you up, remember these words from Ed Catmull, PhD, and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, in order to put your situation into perspective: “One trick I’ve learned is to force myself to make a list of what’s actually wrong. Usually, soon into making the list, I find I can group most of the issues into two or three larger, all-encompassing problems. So it’s really not all that bad. Having a finite list of problems is much better than having an illogical feeling that everything is wrong.”
- Take the Risks: Not all of your ideas will succeed, nor will all your efforts be rewarded, whether it’s a presentation that didn’t go so hot or a home project that fell to pieces. At some point, you will fail, and according to Engineers Without Borders, it can kickstart future success. “No longer afraid of being pilloried for messing up, EWB staff became more willing to take the sort of risks that are often the stepping stones to creative breakthroughs,” writes Carl Honoré, author of The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed. Even if you aren’t an engineer, bouncing back from flops works for every career and circumstance. Don’t be afraid to take a risk; just because it failed this time doesn’t mean it will next time, and what’s more is that you know to do and not to do with this particular risk. Learn from your mistakes and carry on.
- Acknowledge the Best Worst Thing That’s Happened to You: When life is taking a nosedive downward and there’s nothing you can do, there’s an interesting facet to it. Megan McArdle, author of The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, surveyed hundreds of people. She found that when people were asked what others would think had been the best things to have ever happened to them, they gave the usual answers: meeting the spouse, the birth of the children. But when asked what they thought were the best things to have ever happened to them, they listed what most of us fear more than anything: divorce, getting fired, cancer. As McArdle puts it, “Moments of crisis can be transformative.” She acknowledges that, at the time of the hardship, most people wouldn’t have been able to predict that these catastrophic moments would turn out to change their lives.
But in your present situation, it doesn’t hurt to look on the bright side that might come out of this. Have you had an awful/wonderful transformative moment before? Could this be one of them?
- Take It Down a Notch: We all start to wonder what our purpose in life is…or even in the Universe. Actor Nick Offerman’s advice suggests stopping the obscure worrying and switching to a project where you make something tangible. “One of my tips is get a hobby…putting your phone down and doing something with your hands, so that, at the end of two hours, you have a tangible result from your time. You’ve still been distracting yourself, by knitting or cooking or playing music, but you’ve created something.” After this, you can rejoice in your creation, whether you eat it, wear it, or listen to it.
- Brighten Your World: It’s a simple fix, but if your world and future is just a steady shade of gray, you can perk yourself up by looking at images of our glorious galaxy. Take a walk in a truly awe-inspiring scene of nature. Hang out with the favorite dog in your life. Seeing these inspiring sights and creatures may be just the thing your soul needs.