Keep Grinding: 8 Thoughts You Need To Stop Having To Stay Motivated

by Kyle Eschenroeder

It's easy to be addicted to motivational crack: the pictures, quotes, videos and books that all promise to help us make the change in our lives we're all dying to make.

I read these things constantly, soak them in, get my motivational high ... and then I crash.

I found the way for me to stay consistently motivated is to remove the things in my life that are choking my motivation. The truth is, you already have motivation; it's just covered up by a thick layer of parasitic ideas and habits.

Every time I find myself not wanting to do anything and just check out of life (like this morning), I go through this checklist and unleash my motivation:

1. Ingratitude

People say it all the time: "Be grateful!"

Of course, it sounds nice, but the fact of the matter is life is relative; I'm not close enough to starving to appreciate that I have food to eat. However, I fasted for 43 hours last week, and that definitely made me grateful to finally eat.

Other kinds of deprivation can force you to be grateful, like cold showers, dry spells, breakups and severe loss. Nothing makes me grateful for being able to breathe more than an asthma attack.

When you aren't grateful, you are only focusing on what isn't there and why you can't have it. Gratitude shocks you back into respecting your life, instead of complaining you don't have a different life.

The Antidotes: Write a list of things you're grateful for, force yourself to feel grateful for a simple thing (your vision, your ability to breathe, a tree...), deprive yourself of something you love for a week, say thank you to someone or write a thank you note.

2. Envy

When I'm envious, I'm paralyzed. I can't focus on doing my best work if I wish I could be doing that other person's work. I can't love my girlfriend if I wish I had some other guy's girlfriend.

Most importantly, I can't find out who I am if I'm wishing I was somebody else.

Envy blinds us to the opportunities in our own life. It comes from believing that what isn't in our life is more important that what is. How are you supposed to stay motivated when all your energy is being spent worrying about what others have?

The Antidotes: Realize that envy is separate from the subject being envied. Notice your reactions to the successes of others. Get off of Facebook, put your head down and work.

3. Impatience

Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire in his early 20s, and now we all think we have to be billionaires in our early 20s. It's a good story, but it's just not accurate for most of our realities. Most of us have to build over a lifetime.

When I get impatient with my own progress (life, projects, fitness, etc.), I end up quitting. I'm not reaching my goal fast enough, so why should I keep going?

When I stay patient, I do the work that makes progress happen fast.

The Antidotes: Create a plan and measure progress. Stop obsessing over the end-goal and focus on the process today. Read a biography and see the amount of time and failure that the greats had to work through.

4. Overwhelm

I wake up about once a week knowing that 20 tasks need to be done. I want to do them all at once, but I can't, so I do nothing.

Taking one task at a time is our only option.

I don't know how to land a career, find a wife, preapre for a family, pay the bills and go to the dentist all at the same time. Unless these things are broken down into steps and I can take on one at a time, I'm lost.

The Antidotes: Simplify your life; you're probably saying yes to way too many things. Organize your schedule, your desk and your car. Lower the bar. You can't skip steps one through nine. Write down the one thing you want to complete every day and do that thing.

5. Inaction

Taking action is the single most motivating thing you can do, and inaction is the single most powerful motivation sucker there is. The worst thing you can do to find motivation or inspiration is to wait for it. Waiting just makes it harder to get motivated to do anything.

The Antidotes: Commit to action every day. Consistency is key. Make yourself more scared of not doing something than you are of doing it.

6. Loss of Meaning

If you feel like what you’re doing has no purpose, you are guaranteed to have zero motivation to do it. Without meaning, we feel lost, and sometimes as we search for meaning, we realize it's not really there.

The truth is, few of us can truly believe in some grand purpose for our lives.

I have never found meaning in a quote or philosophy, only in taking action. We don't need an abstract explanation of why something makes life meaningful; we just need to get lost in some activity.

The Antidotes: Focus on doing good work. Remind yourself that you don't need a grand purpose to be happy. Aim bigger; express yourself with bad poetry, bad painting, bad singing, etc.

7. No Skin In The Game

If you have something to lose, it's easier to stay motivated.

I've never seen a man desperate to complain about not being motivated. I've never seen an entrepreneur who needed to prove himself to be lazy.

If you can't get the motivation to do something, maybe you're too comfortable. Maybe you need to raise the stakes and put yourself in a position where there is something to lose.

Sports are only fun to watch when you care about a certain team winning.

The Antidotes: Risk something and take a position.

8. Crappy People

If you're surrounded by people who suck, you are going to end up sucking, too.

If nobody around you is doing anything interesting, then how are you supposed to do anything interesting? It's easy to be motivated if you're surrounded by motivation.

The Antidotes: Cut out the five worst people in your life. Join a club you're interested in or email someone online.


Sometimes you can do all these things and still struggle to find motivation. Maybe your subconscious is telling you that this isn't the thing for you, or you need to shake things up in a bigger way.

Find what's sucking your motivation and get rid of it. If you can't figure it out, ask a close friend to weigh in and see how the two of you can change your mindset for the better.

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr