Rebuilding Momentum After Setbacks

If you ever find yourself feeling demotivated because of too many setbacks in a short period of time, here’s a simple way to rebuild your confidence and restore motivation: Switch to smaller tasks you’re certain to achieve, and just do those for a day or two. Put the big projects off for a moment. Get back to the basics.

Clean out your refrigerator. Get an oil change for your car. Get a haircut. Cook your favorite meal. Buy a gift for someone’s birthday. Organize your desk. Do the dishes. Restock your supplies. Balance your checkbook. Buy that book everyone is telling you to read. Upgrade your most frequently used software to the latest versions. Clean up your web browser bookmarks. Give your significant other a nice massage. Maybe send me a quick feedback to let me know if anything I’m writing is making a difference for you, or shoot me a suggestion for future blog entries (I make frequent posts based on reader suggestions). Just do lots of little things you can complete one by one, racking up a series of small personal accomplishments.

Temporarily stick with dead-simple tasks as much you can, whether they’re work-related or just personal. This will gradually rebuild your self-image as someone who competently gets things done. You’ll start feeling just a little more motivated because action induces motivation. Plus you’ll enjoy the small benefits of completing all these little tasks, and those can add up.

Moreover, do a really good job on these simple tasks. Do your very best. Make those dishes shine. If you’re doing a lot of physical tasks, put on your favorite music. Enjoy the process. Remember these are easy tasks.

Once you start feeling pretty good about getting these simple tasks done, graduate to medium-sized tasks. Do something a little more challenging, and get it done no matter what. If you start floundering, drop back to the simple tasks and stick with them for another day or two. Gradually build your momentum until you can enthusiastically return to your most ambitious projects.

We all get demotivated at times. But no one has to wallow in this state. It’s just a sign that it’s time to sharpen the saw. Get back to basics, and retrain yourself to feel confident again with lots of small victories. While working on minor tasks isn’t a great long-term strategy, it can provide the short-term boost needed to return to more challenging work with a strong drive.