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Sometimes life can make you feel like everyone is making progress except you.

Even though we know it’s not true, when we’ve been feeling like we’re not getting much accomplished it’s easy to fall into a terrible mental trap.

Am I wasting another day?! Every day counts and here I am wasting one.

There’s always tomorrow. I’ll get back to it tomorrow.

Do I really want to reach this goal? I’ll be fine without it, I’m fine now.

The Geto Boys were only scratching the surface when they said: “my mind playing tricks on me!”.

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When you feel completely unmotivated and uninspired, it can feel like you may never get back to making progress on your goals again. Whether it’s for the day or week, we all fall into these traps where we feel like we just can’t “do it” today, whatever that it is for you.

Although I’m far from perfect, I have noticed a few things that usually help me get back in the mood to get things done when I need to. Motivating yourself when you don’t feel like it is a skill.

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It’s important that we work on skills like this because the more we work towards our goals, the closer we get.

When it comes to techniques, not everything works for everyone, but I hope that sharing how I approach this feeling when it comes along will help you break through it as well.

The first secret might seem strange, but hear me out.

You’re human, right?

If you’re like most people, you want to see clear and consistent progress towards things you are trying to achieve. This can be tricky because when you’re not doing anything, the feeling of guilt begins to weigh even heavier.

While doing nothing, you sit and think about how doing nothing is making you feel bad, which makes you feel even worse. On and on, the cycle continues.

But have you ever considered easing up on yourself as the first step forward?

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Sure, you need to get things done, but creating this negative cycle in your mind only makes the cycle stronger because you resonate with the message and keep accepting it.

Whenever I really, truly, do not want to do something that I know I should during that day, I tell myself something like “you’re not in the mood to do it now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it later in the day”. Although simple, telling myself this helps me ease up and remember that the day isn’t over. It also helps me to begin mentally preparing to do something that I’m not in the mood for later on.

I love this approach because it’s a solid reminder that you’re human and your moods will shift. After acknowledging this and putting it on my do later (for real) list, I begin to prepare my mind by asking myself a very important question.

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Why was this so important to you in the first place?

Science has proven it again and again, humans naturally want to pass up on long-term pleasure because they prefer short-term. People want to see the results of their actions now.

This can be good in some ways because it keeps us more focused on moments that are closer in time, but it can be harmful when trying to reach our long term goals. I warned you, the mind loves playing tricks on you, and this is one of its favorite games to play.

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Although we’re logical enough to know that some things take time, we prioritize short-term satisfaction.

Knowing this, it’s important to remember why that thing was so important to you when you decided that you will take the action that you’re not motivated to.

This will help your brain to remember that there’s a payoff that you will get, but it probably won’t happen tomorrow, or maybe not even by next week or month. When getting my mind ready to do the task I put off until later in the day, this is usually the thought I start with.

You can also think about things that bring on positive memories of similar things that you’ve accomplished.

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If you’ve never accomplished anything similar to your new goal, think of another time you took on a challenge and fought through to make it happen. This will help you remember and feel like you can take on a new challenge and be successful again.

But the battle isn’t always all in the mind.

Get moving, get motivated

Quick story.

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In 2014, I was sick and tired of being out of shape.

I had just moved to Brooklyn from Providence, Rhode Island a year before, was a year removed from college, and was living on the typical post-grad budget of oatmeal and NYC’s finest dollar slices.

One day, I was introduced to someone who I would consider to be highly successful. It seemed like he had achieved nearly everything I set out to which inspired the s*** out of me.

While listening to him speak on a panel that I’ll never forget, one of the things he touched on was how he used running to keep in shape, and that it fit his lifestyle because it could be done quickly or slowly depending on how much distance he committed to.

I have never seen someone who is overweight and has a great running time, so I decided to try it out. First, it was 1 mile, then 2, then 3, then 4. Finally, I started tracking my time and have been a runner since.

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Running keeps everything in check for me. It helps me maintain a good physique, continuously do a physical activity that I enjoy, clears my mind and gives me a lot of energy.

But I know that it might not be running for you.

I’m fully aware that most people hate running. But the reason why I shared that story is because you should think about what you enjoy doing that gets you moving.

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It doesn’t even have to make perfect sense or be pretty, it just has to be something that can get you out of your head and into your physical body, excited and moving. Do it and use the feeling to build momentum into the next thing you’re going to do.

But at some point, you have to take action.

That “IDC do it anyway” love

I LOVE Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art.

It’s an amazing book that should be read by anyone who creates anything.

In this book, the main idea is centered around the resistance. But what is the resistance?

The resistance is the force that stops you from taking action. It is within you and tells you all types of elaborate lies that will get you to say “you know what, I don’t need to do this today”. The resistance is an asshole because it knows your weaknesses and preys on them.

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It pops up in moments like when you’re laying in bed and your mind says “you should do that thing now, but you can do it tomorrow” so you wait.

Or when your mind says something like, “this project isn’t that important anyway, who cares if it’s late” or “I’m a little tired, let me put this off today”.

It happens to ALL of us who make anything, so the key is learning how to beat it. One of my good friends sent me this picture that explains how to beat the resistance in a pretty succinct (and eloquent) way.

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Action leads to motivation.

Within The War of Art, Pressfield goes on to explain that most of the time, beating the resistance is as simple as doing what you need to anyway and getting started.

This sounds so simple, but it works! Here’s one example of how I use it…

I love to shoot and edit videos (and you can see my work at byrouk.com), but that doesn’t mean that I’m equally as excited to create each one. When I do have to edit something that don’t really want to, I pull out my laptop, scroll through twitter and maybe read a few articles.

Sometimes this routine of doing a whole bunch of BS on my computer lasts for an hour or two, but that’s ok.

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I know that if I get my mind in a space where it finally says “hey, I’m on a laptop!”, it becomes much easier to do the other activities that I actually need to do on my laptop after a while.

But you wasted 2 hours!! I hear from the crowds…  

Sure, I did.

But I also got what I needed to done thanks to those 2 “wasted” hours. Sometimes it will truly feel like you don’t want to do that task, but if you really want it and don’t want to tap out or keep lying to yourself about doing it, remember, action leads to motivation.

P.S.

Slow progress is better than no progress, so it’s ok to inch forward on some days.

If you’re feeling unmotivated while reading this, I hope it helps

I write about productivity, wellness & marketing, so you’re sure to learn something good if you sign-up for updates from me.

written by ‘rouk

Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you can be doing more?

Accomplishing way more?

Like you’re supposed to be way further ahead in life?

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If you’re anything like me, the feeling can nag at you and almost feel never-ending.

The thought of “I should be doing ________” follows you around, it can haunt you. I’ve struggled with the feeling for years, likely the same way you have.

But this year is different.

I know we like to say “new year, new me”, but seriously, I’ve gotten so much s*** done this year. That nagging feeling is nearly gone!

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But seriously.

I’ve been writing more than I ever thought I could. I’m not Ernest Hemingway yet, but I can slowly see and feel a difference in the pieces I’m writing. I’m making more videos for both myself and clients, & absorbing knowledge across a variety of topics at a FAST pace.

I’ve truly transformed how I work through a few key habits and I hope they can help you too.

We all want to be more productive, but what most of us fail to realize is that it’s mostly a matter of changing how we work. That and being open to the change.

There’s a meme going around now that’s pretty popular. It’s a little cliche, but I like it because it highlights the need for change. Changes most of us likely need to make to become our version of successful.

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I’ve made many changes this year that have really skyrocketed my productivity, and I hope they can do the same for you. I wish I could go back 2 years and give myself these exact tips.

Although not all of these changes are easy, they’re all worth it. Without further ado, let’s get into it…

1. Making Time For The S*** That NEEDS To Get Done

If you haven’t heard of the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, here’s a quick summary:

We are all distracted 24/7 in this world.

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Social media, email, phone calls, text messages, Whats App, slack groups, telegram groups, you name it. All of these small distractions can make it so hard for us to actually produce things and make meaningful progress towards our goals.

Distractions take away our ability to think deeply. How can you really think when you know you have 15 different notifications to tend to?

The main idea in Deep Work is that the ability to take 1 task and focus on it for 2-3 hours at a time is becoming rare in society. The author, Cal Newport, makes it clear that this ability to focus on a single task for large amounts of time can make you special in today’s world.

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When was the last time you worked for an hour or two straight, without looking at a single notification or scrolling through Instagram?

It makes perfect sense.

Think about the process of writing a long blog post for example. Let’s say your goal is to write a post that is 2,000 words. Which is a decent amount for any writer to get through. Sure, you could have 4 writing sessions when you write 500 words a piece, but why not have 2 sessions where you write a strong 1,000?

To be straightforward – you don’t have to be a math wiz to see how this level of focus can separate you.

Deep Work isn’t an easy habit to build (like many good habits), but once you do, you’ll unlock a version of yourself that can achieve so much more.

While getting more into the habit of doing Deep Work, one of the toughest things for me to do was (and sometimes still is) to stop checking social media so often, which brings me to my next point…

2. Less Social Media (especially on breaks)

I know, I know, you’ve heard it before, but hear me out!

I used to think that “taking a break” meant scrolling through social media to see what the world is up to.

Damn, I was wrong.

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After reading through a ton of productivity tips, one common theme I noticed was how many of these experts stayed away from social media as a “break”. They make it clear that according to modern science, your brain is actually still working and consuming thoughts while you’re on social media. You’re processing other people’s thoughts, ideas & emotions constantly.

I was skeptical at first because… how bad could it be?

But then I gave it an honest try for 1 week.

I decided that instead of social media, I would either use the breath application on my Apple Watch or meditate for 5 minutes using the Headspace app. I did this for 4 days straight. By the end of the 4th day, I had promised myself to use way less social media (at least on weekdays) so that I can truly focus.

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It’s amazing how much extra space to think that you gain when your mind isn’t consumed by social media at all. I suddenly felt like I had more time, my brain was producing creative ideas with ease, and life felt a little easier in general.

This extra space away from social media feels very awkward if you’re used to being on constantly. I suggest trying to fill the space with a practice that is literally built to clear your mind and keep you level headed, meditation.

3. Is Your Mind Here, Now?

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I like to meditate in the morning before I get my day started. It makes me feel at ease and ready to embrace the present moment throughout the day.

Not only do I use meditation to get my day started, but I also use it to take breaks. It’s a great way to maintain your energy throughout the day because you’re giving your mind the chance to not think about anything for a few minutes.

If your mind never really stops talking, this will change your life.

We are constantly thinking 24/7. We even obsess over things we can do nothing about.

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One of my favorite books is The Power of Now, because it really drives home the point about being aware of and into the present moment. At some point, we have to accept that what has happened in the past is something we can’t change and what will happen in the future can only be prepared for so much.

Meditation is a great way to remind your brain of what you actually want to focus on and training your mind to shut up!

Focus on what you can do now and always remember, half of your mind’s chatter is BS.

4. Making My Schedule Work FOR ME

As a modern-day marketing professional, I love to read. In fact, I have to if I want to keep up with my industry. It’s part of my job to read about marketing because it’s always changing.

But, is that the number one thing that I should be focused on? Should that be the number 1 thing on my to-do list?

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Asking myself this question revealed a lot to me. The main thing I noticed is how I’ve prioritized things like reading over writing in the past, but why would I do that??

If my goal is to connect with people, reading isn’t going to help me reach that goal. It’s simple. But writing? Writing allows people to learn about how I can help them, what I do in my work and connect with people which is the real goal. Realizing this made me put reading on the back-burner within my morning routine.

We only have so much energy in a day, but the good news is that most of the time, we start out with a full tank of energy to be used how we please. If you start with less energy because you didn’t get sleep or something in your routine is off, this is even more reason to prioritize.

This one simple change has helped me remain laser-focused on what’s important.

Maybe you want to lose weight or work on your physique and that’s really important to you right now. Well, if that’s the case, one of the things you should be thinking about daily is working out or hitting the gym. Prioritize it.

No one knows about your dreams and goals more than you do, which is why no one but you can build a life that supports them.

5. Production, Production, Production…

If you want to be productive, you have to produce things…

Read that again.

It seems so obvious, but yet we have all been in that circle of research or doing other things that aren’t actually the act of producing something. When you don’t want to actually produce something for whatever reason, it’s so easy to make excuses for yourself.

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I have been guilty of this in the past.

To make things even worse, your brain associates things like research with actually producing things, making you feel like you’ve done tons of work. Of course, you have done “work”, but what is there to show for it? There should always be something, anything, to show for it.

For example, let’s say I want to be a baker. I love baking and look forward to the challenge of becoming one of the best bakers in the world.

Well, of course I’m going to watch YouTube videos, read about other bakers, study their craft, learn the advanced tricks, etc. These are all logical places to start learning. But at some point, I have to bake!

In fact, after some research, it’s probably best that I just start baking like a mad man. Cookies, cakes, bread, pastries, Pillsbury products, yes everything.

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It sounds so simple, but that’s not what most of us do.

Instead, we learn about the best cookie baker, then the best bread baker, then this woman in Ethiopia who came up with a recipe of her own. We go down this rabbit-hole and avoid actually making cookies. Sure, your cookies might suck, but it’s better to know that and fix them now so you can grow and eventually become that best baker.

I say all that to say – Get your reps up.

I’m living proof. Although writing is new to me and I don’t have an audience of millions, guess what? I don’t care. All I know is that I’m getting reps up and possibly helping people, whether that’s now or in the future.

Go Achieve Your Wildest Goals (!!)

Change is hard.

If you like the ideas in this post, I suggest you take just 1 or 2 to start. I can promise that’s all it will take to feel a difference in yourself.

If you do try these, please let me know how they work for you. I typically write about video marketing, but enjoy writing these posts in hopes that they can help at least one person.

If you enjoyed this post I’d appreciate if you subscribed to my weekly newsletter. I talk about topics I learn that will help you navigate through life & smart ways businesses are using video marketing today.

Written,

by ‘rouk