10 Ways to Maintain Confidence and Motivation Through the Grind

What do you do when your motivation starts to wane?

Maybe you’ve been in this situation: you start solid, work hard, and then realise you’ve slowed down significantly after a few days or weeks. You don’t see the point and don’t want to do anything about it. It’s not that you’re lazy.  It’s not that you’re uninterested in the topic. You’ve just lost faith and motivation in what you’re doing.

Wait, why am I doing this again?

Yes, that dreaded question that can stop anyone in their tracks. This question filters out the people who aren’t determined enough to make it work.

Confidence and motivation are two things that naturally waver When chasing large ambitions.  If you’re beginning something new or keeping something going, there’s bound to be some level of difficulty involved. When you’ve been caught in the grind for a long time, it isn’t easy to see the end target.

So how do you keep confidence and motivation consistently high so you can continue to function at optimum levels?

In my experience, I’ve found that if I don’t take care of myself, my trust and motivation suffer. Self-care takes many forms, and while it may seem like a sensitive topic, it’s essential to understand the different aspects of self-care; otherwise, your ambition may become your downfall.

Here are 10 ways to take care of yourself so you can continue to work at optimum levels.

1. Relax your mind. 

It’s up to you how you unwind; make sure you do it. I say, completely unwinding. There’s no need to be concerned with how many people liked your last Facebook status or what they’re putting on their Snapchat story. Take away the work and social media.   Watch Netflix, read a book, go for a walk, or catch up with friends at a pub. Relax.

I had to force myself to unwind. I used to be one of those people who had to be doing something.  Reading a book or article, studying or taking a course, watching a TED talk, or listening to a podcast are all good options. There had to be something I was studying and consuming. I would get restless if I weren’t productive. That meant my brain was always active and more prone to burn out.

2. Think about how you will feel when you reach your goal.

Close your eyes and imagine how satisfied you’ll be once you’ve accomplished your goal. I’m serious. Right now, could you do it? Consider the top 3-5 milestones you’ve made in your life, as well as the feelings that went into achieving them (I learned this from Peter Voogd). Ambition, bravery, self-assurance, and perseverance. Such are the feelings you want to experience, so imagine how amazing it would feel and aspire for it.

3. Exercise at least three times a week. 

Obviously, even though there is a trend toward a healthier lifestyle, more people always need to exercise. Several entrepreneurs have confirmed that exercise is the most important factor. It strengthens your body and sharpens your mind, helping you handle the obstacles that life will inevitably throw at you.

Don’t worry about becoming a competing powerlifter or getting the most stylish workout gear, or having an Instagram feed of gym selfies.  Just exercise for yourself.

I lift weights at least three times a week. Even though my workout routine is sometimes interrupted by life, I still make it a point to get back on track. The aim isn’t to have a perfect workout routine. The objective should be to maintain as much consistency as possible.

4. Eat well. 

You don’t have to start counting every calorie, weighing all of your portions, and eating six times a day (honestly, that’s too much effort, and we’ve got plenty on our plates). Only don’t eat fast food three times a day. When I’m neck-deep in work and working on a job, I’ve previously forgotten to eat. You must take care of your body.

Baby steps are key when it comes to eating well, and Nerd Fitness has a great beginner’s guide to healthy eating. It will undoubtedly alter your mindset, and while it might be difficult at first, it will pay off in the long run because you have more energy and prevent burnout.

5. Get more sleep. 

Sleep deprivation has become a status symbol, which I’ve observed since college. Since not getting enough sleep shows that you have a lot on your mind, which implies that you’re important and productive, right? You must be working on something all of the time, you successful person!

As Greg McKeown said in Essentialism, you need to protect your asset—your brain. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation weakens our ability to make effective decisions, solve problems, communicate effectively and adapt to new situations.

Sure, you can work for four hours of sleep a night, but you’re not working at the optimum level. If you don’t work at an optimum level, you’re not going to contribute your best work to the world.

You can sleep in, and you can still be successful. Ariana Huffington is sleeping 7-8 hours a night, by the way.

6. Take a trip.

 I don’t mean to go to Vegas and get drunk. I mean, go somewhere that will stimulate your mind, introduce you to new cultures and languages, and force you out of your comfort zone. While this will not necessarily relax your mind, you will create new synapses in your brain that will stimulate creativity and refresh your mind.

7. Spend time with loved ones. 

Self-care includes emotional health. Ambition can lead to depression, and it’s important to make sure you’re under emotional control. Your family, your partner and your close friends, are going to remind you that your job is not your whole life. They’re going to support you and keep your morals up when you lose your motivation.

When I lost my job, I texted my friends to let them know that I would need some help, and three of my closest friends (who were at work or school at the time) called me within a minute to text them to make sure I was all right. Then they sent me the job listings and the opportunities they’d heard about. While I didn’t pursue those opportunities, seeing how much they cared and how much they believed in me kept my morale up and got me out of the slump.

8. Meditate. 

While meditation doesn’t necessarily increase your confidence or motivation, it helps keep you from stressing tiny things. Not sure how to meditate on that? It’s not that hard. And for an hour, you don’t have to sit cross-legged in total silence. You can start with 10 minutes a day.

9. Re-evaluate your goals. 

It may sound counter-intuitive. Why would you think about new goals when you lose motivation for your current goals? Reframing your goals may be a refresh that you need to push forward. You may have lost motivation because you feel that you’re not getting any closer to your goal. 

Why are you working towards that goal in the first place? Are you working towards something different? What is the purpose of this? What are you expecting to come out of it? Is there another approach that you can take?

Your goals will continue to change, and your old goals will become irrelevant as you move forward in life.

10. Journal and reflect. 

It’s hard to see how far you’re going without looking back. Take a moment to pause and reflect at the end of every week. Look at how far you’ve come and imagined what’s possible if you’re still moving forward. It’s about being content and looking forward, too.

Journaling has allowed me to review what I’ve accomplished and to take a clear look at what I’ve done and what I can improve on. When I see what I’ve been able to do, it gets me excited to think about what I’m capable of.

I like to use a Picadilly notebook for my journal. You can find them at your local Barnes & Nobles for a few bucks. The Moleskine notebooks are also cool.

While this is not an exhaustive list of how to remain mentally refreshed, confident and motivated, these few things have helped me maintain motivation even in tough times. I’ve been able to bounce back from dark moments–including depression, getting fired, and plain old life frustrations–using these simple tactics.

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