4 Tips to Staying Positive When Motivation Lags

4 Tricks to Recapturing Self Motivation When Energy Flags

Sometimes Paul and I have a bit of trouble keeping up our motivation over the course of a long day. If you read Paul’s post on Stumbling Toward Optimism, you know that a positive attitude is not in our DNA. However, we have a lot of important goals and very busy lives. We have four (adult) kids, full-time jobs, multiple side hustles, and our many poker trips to plan and experience. So when our motivation hits a low point, we need to figure out how to bring it back up quickly. And, sadly, motivation often hits a low point.

Fortunately, through our years together, Paul and I have identified some tricks to remedy the problem. We’ve tried a lot of different methods to throw off the gloom and get back to work. Below are the four measures we have found to be most effective at recapturing our mojo when we hit a rough patch.

4 Tips to Staying Positive When Self Motivation Lags

Make a Plan to Maintain Self Motivation

We plan out each week on a white board with a set of magnets edged in washi tape signifying who is assigned each task. We have color-coded categories for our main work, side hustles, household tasks, and this blog. Oh yes, I am an organizational geek. Further, each day we list specifically what we want to accomplish, and how we will fit them around other personal activities (errands, cooking, exercise, etc.). It can be surprisingly motivating to clean off a magnet and move it back to the empty pile. And damn, it feels good when the day’s column is empty. In case you’re interested, we use this white board, which we have found to be the perfect size for our home office.


Okay, I have to admit right here that I truly suck at meditating. My meditation grade is probably a C- at best. The mere fact that I grade myself on meditation shows you how sadly ill-equipped I am for it. Nonetheless, I persevere. Even in my failure, spending seven minutes each morning trying to let my chattery brain shut down puts me in a better place.  And if I am struggling with motivation mid-afternoon, a few minutes of peaceful breathing gives me a real boost. If you’re looking for a way to get started, Insight Timer is a great meditation app. It allows you to follow thousands of guided meditations, or just set a timer to focus on your own breath. Best of all, it’s free!

When all else fails, bribery remains. Do whatever it takes to recapture motivation when your energy flags.Click To Tweet

Take a Walk to Improve Self Motivation

The idea of exercise to lighten one’s mood is hardly groundbreaking. However, it is extremely effective. Paul runs, but I prefer to get outside and take a walk. The endorphins released from walking, combined with the positive effects of sunlight will turn my mood around every time. As an extra productivity bonus, I always listen to podcasts when I walk. My favorite side hustle podcast is Nick Loper’s The Side Hustle Show. It got us started side hustling, and gives me fresh motivation to get back to work and start hustling every time I listen.

2022 Update: Paul and I have started hiking almost daily. We use the AllTrails app, which allows us to find hiking trails near us. Even better, it allows us to filter trails by things like distance, difficulty, and how much traffic they get. So far we walked 16 different trails within an hour of our home in September and we are up to 12 this month. We even started an Instagram account so that we can start to share pictures of our hikes. Hiking was a real lifeline through the socially distanced months, and something we have now incorporated into our travels.


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Reward Yourself

When all else fails, bribery remains. If I face an undesirable task, I promise myself a treat upon its completion. You have to be careful with this one. No promising yourself a Tahitian vacation for taking out the trash. That will kill your budget every time. Also, for your long-term health: no bribing your way through a bag of Hershey’s kisses in one sitting. But offering yourself a small grace note when you’re really struggling to complete a task can be a great incentive.

For example, I hate making phone calls. Thank goodness for the internet, because if my job depended on calling strangers regularly, I might be homeless. So if I need to call the accountant, I’ll promise myself that afterwards I can sit down with a book for 15 minutes. Although I do tend to use Hershey’s kisses as an incentive more than I should, the reward method does miracles in helping me recapture my self motivation to do what needs to be done and keep me on the path to reach my goals.


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