Passion Lacking? Five Savvy Ways to Get Your Mojo Back.
Stuck in a rut. Mired in meh. Bored outta your goddamn skull.
Call it what you want, but we’ve all been there — so lethargic and uninspired, we can’t stop repeating Mary Engelbreit’s famous saying: “Life is just so daily.”
And no matter how many times you read Stephen Covey, slam back espressos, revamp your desk, change your view, and seek motivation in nature, you can’t seem to shake that drowsy state of inertia.
Rest assured that it’s possible to shed your torpor and feel electrified again. Here are five savvy ways to get your mojo back pronto:
- Be realistic.
Self-esteem guru Nathaniel Branden was entirely right when he said, “The first step toward change is awareness.” The man might disagree with me, but what I’m suggesting here has nothing to do with expanding your consciousness by scrubbing your chakras like they’re pearls just pulled from the sea.
I’m talking about being pragmatic with and about your life.
Tim Ferris might champion the four-hour workweek, and the Golden Gate Bridge may have only taken four years to complete, but Tolstoy took six years to write what became one of the best and most enduring novels of all time (War and Peace), while Bryan Cranston — yes, he of Breaking Bad fame — was 44 before he started getting recognition for his talent (something he had doggedly tried to receive for years).
In other words, shit takes time — at least good shit. And if you’re feeling blue and unmotivated because you’ve hit a plateau — whether that’s in your fitness goals, your relationship, or that screenplay you’re penning — know that it’s nature’s way of things. The sun doesn’t shine 365 days a year, not even in Hawaii.
Be patient with the process, try to enjoy the downtime, and trust that your brain and body are simply building energy.
- Honor your commitments.
Nine times out of ten, when I keenly don’t want to do something, it means I should. Badly. As in, no excuses allowed. And I’m not talking about needing to get my teeth cleaned or paying rent — all things where, really, excuses aren’t permitted.
Rather, I’m talking about areas where we have a choice — to watch Nashville or go to the gym, to eat a sleeve of cookies or hit up the salad bar, to let it slide and hope that awkwardness will disappear, or to sit down and have that super difficult conversation.
Making commitments to ourselves — to exercise regularly, deal with problems when they arise, stand up for ourselves, seek help when we need it — is no minor thing, and, like a promise to a friend, they ought to be valued and upheld.
What’s more, not fulfilling your intentions or resolutions creates a psychic weight that leads to all types of bad behaviors that may only make you sink you deeper into your United States of Blah.
So, pull on not those bootstraps but those Yoga capris. Pop a cherry tomato. Compose that email that makes you really, really uncomfortable to think about. Pick up the phone. You’ll feel lighter, freer, and more motivated to attack other things in your life that need attention.
- Make a ‘got done’ list.
Don’t get me wrong: When I’m on fire, there’s nothing more seductive than the power and promise of a to-do list.
But when my mojo has abandoned me and my muse is nowhere to be found, the mere thought of a to-do list makes me feel pissy and even heavier.
Flip the switch on it, and create a ‘got done’ list at the end of the day to keep up your motivation instead. Take it from The Muse (not mine, the one online): “Work is most motivating when it’s clear what, exactly, you’re accomplishing. Think about it: How great does it feel when you know you’ve gotten a launch off the ground or made great progress on big project? On the other hand, nothing is worse than working all day and thinking “What did I even do today?!” If you’re feeling like you’ve been spinning your wheels, try this: At the end of each day or week, make a “Got Done” list (the opposite of the to-do list!), where you outline all of the tasks you’ve completed. For extra motivation, keep it somewhere you can see.” Preferably the bathroom mirror.
- See green.
The common rah-rah-rah might be that we’re too rational, independent, and empowered to experience envy. I call bullshit. Show me a woman my age eating a slice of chocolate cake but with thighs like an adolescent’s, and you can sure as hell bet I’ll burn with envy.
And, if you’re frank with yourself, I bet you have your buttons too, whether it’s the gorgeous relationship your colleague seems to have with her husband, or the stunning eye for fashion your best friend blithely possesses.
There is no need to shun the sense that you’re missing out on something, because let’s be real: You probably are. But rather than mope about it (“I’ll never be able to speak French!”), do something about it. Meaning, use envy as the great motivator to get your tush out of your chair and into the home/partnership/career/car/pant size you desire.
“No one would deny that feeling envy is unpleasant, or that feeling envious sometimes leads us down a path we wish we hadn’t taken,” Maria Konnikova writes in The New Yorker. “Envy is frequently corrosive and destructive. And yet, the right kind of envy can serve an important personal and social function. It spurs competition and improvement.”
Can’t seem to summon some envy? Open a copy of Vogue or simply turn on the TV — advertising is based on the concept of inciting want and jealousy. But before you let your horns grow, ask yourself if where you’re feeling low — and what you hope to attain — is genuinely you, or part of what the world feeds us. Which brings me to our final point:
- Know thyself.
When we’re candid with ourselves, we may not be terribly surprised that our lack of motivation is perfectly aligned with how we truly feel about a person, place, or thing, that we just don’t have the gumption to admit.
Sure, having a bikini body would be great and all, but maybe you’d prefer to read The New York Times under the covers with a cup of hot coffee instead of doing jumping jacks at 6 am, adolescent thighs be damned. Quite possibly that project at work or around the house makes you inwardly sigh because, honestly, it holds no interest for you whatsoever and, therefore, doesn’t really seem all that important.
Or you can’t seem to plan well enough in advance to make homemade jam for Christmas presents because, in truth, you’d much rather spend your time trolling through Etsy for cute gifts for your friends.
The point is, be honest with yourself and others. It’s virtually impossible to muster enthusiasm for something or someone that you don’t give a hoot about, and aside from work assignments, family obligations, and health issues, that is absolutely, totally, completely fine.
The better you know yourself, the more excited you’ll be to pinpoint your ambitions and maintain the exhilaration you need to accomplish them. In other words, your best you yet can only be determined by you, and you exclusively. Now go get ‘em, tiger, there’s lots waiting.
Lauretta Zucchetti writes frequently about spirituality, divorce, motherhood, grief, and more at her website, and her work has been featured on Literary Mama, Tiny Buddha, Maria Shriver’s The Shriver Report, elephant journal, Brevity, Scary Mommy, She Knows, and Lifehack, among others. An essay about her mother was published in the anthology Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions alongside pieces by Kelly Corrigan and Gabrielle Bernstein. A former executive at Apple, she splits her time between San Francisco, New York, and Rome.