5 ways to stay committed to your long-term goals when you "feel unmotivated"
Updated: Sep 28
I waited several years to SWERVE. I kept a long list of reason why it wasn’t the right time to launch. At the top of the list was self-doubt which was closely followed by a false belief that if I really wanted to SWERVE I would be doing it already – as if my perceived lack of motivation was some sort of sign that I didn’t really want to build a different life.
But the reality is most of us are hard-wired to resist change and long for the familiar – even if the familiar is unhealthy and painful. Does this mean we’re lazy, unmotivated beings? I don’t think so.
Recently, I’ve come to see a pattern among the “Swervers” out there. They wind up swerving at a transformational point in their lives and many times it doesn’t start off so pretty. They swerved because of an outside force or a universal sign.
I don’t know that I would have committed to my SWERVE if my situation at the time hadn’t become so painful. I started SWERVE Coaching as a side hustle – it was a safe way to dip my toe into running my own business, but without any of the risky side effects. So, SWERVE existed on the sidelines. Every so often, I felt a deep pang in my gut, pulling me towards SWERVE, but held back by a sickeningly long list of limiting beliefs. So, I kept going on in my “good on paper” job. And don’t get me wrong. The roles I held were good jobs. I’d start off excited and then it would wane into a familiar feeling that something wasn’t right. I wondered, what might be wrong with me?
At the beginning of 2020, I was about a year and a half into my role. I felt like I was doing great – then a huge shift happened within the organization and work suddenly became a constant battle. Within 3 months I was on the path to burnout. I was angry with the situation. It was this anger that fueled me to push through my fears. It lit a fire.
And yet, I still had moments where I wondered "do I have the motivation required to make my business work?"
Well, here’s the cold hard truth. If you wait to “feel motivated” you’re going to struggle to go after what you want for your career and life.
Your dream life might feel so out of reach because it’s vastly different than what you are currently doing. This was the case for me at least. My dream was to live in the mountains and run my own business. This vision came to me while I was living in a small downtown apartment in a massive city working for a large organization. The dream and the reality seemed SO far apart. It’s no wonder it took so long to get moving on the dream.
Transformation is usually a long game. That’s why it can feel overwhelming. It’s important to take small, incremental steps rather than trying to do it all at once. So, I want to encourage you to stop waiting for a spark of motivation. Rather than waiting to feel motivated (what does this feel like anyway?!), you need to take some action.
Here are a few simple ways to push through your inner critic’s self-sabotaging monologue so you can start working towards the dream life you’ve been envisioning.
Method 1: Take Smaller Steps & Don’t Overthink It
This past year I read two of the best self-development books on the market, IMHO – Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. Both authors have a similar concept to help jump-start action before you allow your thoughts to freeze you into inaction.
Recognize that you need to stop thinking about taking big steps forward. You’ll most likely fail to take action if you overthink it, especially if the goal seems overwhelming.
Mel Robbins’ suggests we do a quick countdown – 5-4-3-2-1 and take the plunge. For instance, if your goal is to get healthier – you need to 5-4-3-2-1 it to choose the salad over the steak. Or 5-4-3-2-1 it to begin writing a blog rather than thinking about writing a blog, and then never getting to it (Ahem… guilty as charged!).
You can use 5-4-3-2-1 to help curb cravings, finally deliver that speech and have a really difficult conversation.
If the 5-4-3-2-1 rule doesn’t work for you, try out James Clear’s 2-minute rule. In essence, the rule stipulates that whatever habit you’re trying to create should begin with breaking it down into a small, manageable goal. “Instead of reading 30 books a year, that becomes read one page a day.” Check out this quick video from James to learn how to practice the 2-minute rule:
Method 2: Make a Public Commitment
Like many, I thrive on deadlines. As a self-proclaimed procrastinator, I’ve never felt more seen than when I stumbled on this Calvin and Hobbes strip:
Having a deadline in a corporate setting is easy to abide by. Setting your own deadlines often isn’t enough. It’s super easy to allow them to slide if you’re keeping them quiet, unless you’re the type that is extremely accountable to themselves.
How can you overcome this? Make a public commitment – perhaps on your blog, twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. If going public is too much, share the commitment with your friends and family and ask them to check in on your progress.
Method 3: Find an Accountability Partner
If you struggle to stay accountable to yourself, find an accountability buddy. It’s the reason people invest in personal trainers or nutritionists when trying to get healthier. Having an accountability partner tends to lead to greater success because:
you won’t want to let the other person down
you’ve made a commitment to someone else
you've invested money in having someone keep you accountable
Method 4: Get Excited About It
Listen, there are going to be times when you just don’t feel like it. There will be tasks on your to-do list that you do not enjoy. That’s just a fact of life. Another great way to spring into action is to reframe your mindset about the tasks you don’t enjoy but need to get done. Some tricks I use include:
Telling myself I’m excited to complete the task (this is especially helpful if it’s something I’m avoiding because it’s outside of my comfort zone)
Making it more enjoyable by creating a relaxing environment – cue the music and turn on the diffuser!
Rewarding myself for completing the task with something I really enjoy doing such as taking my dog for a walk or watching some trashy reality tv
Method 5: Remind Yourself that You Can Do Hard Things
As Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass says, “If you want to live a live you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done!” You are going to need to do brave things to get what you want out of life.
It’ll be a whole lot easier to step into the discomfort if you remind yourself that you are capable of doing hard things. We all are. When I recently embarked on a journey to become better at running (which has been the bane of my existence), I would repeat this phrase: “you can do hard things.” This silly little mind trick helped me to keep pushing.
Moral of the story? You too, can do hard things – you just need to start believing it.
So, please stop telling yourself that you’re lazy or unmotivated. These messages simply reinforce inaction.
Are you feeling stuck? A coach may be a helpful way to keep you moving forward while staying accountable. Let’s connect to see if we’re a good fit! Book now.
About Lauren McCreery
Lauren is a Certified Professional Coach and real-life SWERVE success story. When she isn't working, she's spending time going on big adventures with her rescue dog, Finley! As the founder of Swerve Coaching & Consulting, she helps millennials who are stressed, stuck or burnt out to find work they love.
Feeling burnt out and want a career change? Book a discovery call today.