I was the girl who always encouraged others to find their motivation, until I lost mine.
'Go after your dreams,' I'd always tell my tolerant friends, who'd heard this spiel a thousand times. 'Follow your heart and don't be afraid to go after your passions.'
And that was all grand and well. But what happens when you lose touch with your goals, become unsure of what your heart wants, and generally lose the motivation to spend time on your passions because you don't know what they are anymore?
This is the question that writes dozens of best-selling books every year. People lose their momentum all the time, and they want to know how to get it back.
Let me tell you, it was disconcerting (read: horrifying) to me when I would get home from work every day and not have the energy to do the things I used to love (like writing my blog or novel, going to the gym, or planning out my life's goals). Where was that fire that was always in my heart? I fully understood now when they said that "adult life" would send you to the TV after a long day at work--because Netflix called my name every day when I came home from my new job, and I found myself continuously heeding its call.
'Something has to give,' I thought. 'I need my fire back.' So I tried looking for volunteer opportunities. But the more I looked, the less motivation I had. I would open a webpage and look around for a bit before simply clicking out. I tried planning another international vacation. I had 10 vacation days now, no more endless months to while away, but I could still have fun! I would start searching for places to go, but after a few halfhearted minutes, I would find myself on Buzzfeed taking quizzes about what dessert best matched my personality.
What was wrong with me?
Turns out, nothing. It's completely normal for people to lose motivation and drive at times throughout their lives. Especially after a change (mine was getting my first "grown-up job" and moving across the state), people can lose touch with themselves. It's scary and not fun, but it happens (which I discovered after finally working up the nerve to check out a bundle of books about motivation at the library).
So, how to re-kindle that fire in your soul?
I'm still working on it. It's only been a few days that I feel closer to my old self, where I feel the familiar excitement tingle through my fingers when I sit down to write, or feel the energy in my chest as I start truly planning out my goals for the future. But that's enough for me to know I'm on the right track. Getting your motivation back and re-discovering your passions will be a different process for everybody, but here's what helped me:
1.) Committing yourself to getting your drive back. I knew I was in a passion-less state of limbo, but the scary thing was, half the time I was numbly content with it. I really had to shake myself and think that while I might be "content" now, watching Netflix instead of writing, I wouldn't be happier in the future.
2.) Discover when you get your best work done. I am a morning person through and through. I can wake up, go to the gym, plan out my day, and feel that fiery energy I always contribute to myself in the first few hours of the day. However, after the 3 PM slump hits, I know it's over. I'll get home from work at 5:30, dragging my feet and fighting to stay awake. For a while I tried to fight this, but now I know to embrace it. I make sure to go to bed early in the week so I can wake up early and do the things I need to do, that make me happy and keep me motivated: gym, writing, goal-planning, etc. I've accepted that my mind works better at the start of the day. If you embrace your own biological clock, you may find it easier to stay motivated.
3.) Know that passions can change. What you wanted last year might be different now. Or what you liked even just last week may have lost its flair in this one. Don't force yourself to do something if you just aren't feeling it anymore. Understand and accept that you can change your mind, and instead of letting it get you down ('I don't like to do the things I used to anymore!') take some time to pause, reflect, and try out new things to discover what you like. Sometimes getting your motivation back is as simple as finding something new to motivate you.
I know motivation and passion are an ebb and flow, and some days they will be stronger than others. Sometimes you truly ARE tired, and some days the call of Netflix will win. And that's ok. No one is perfect. Know that taking a break or by feeling down for a little while does not make you a failure or any less motivated.
Even fires need to burn down sometimes in order to come back strong.
Kayla Maneen received her BFA in Creative Writing and minored in adventure and fun. After graduation, she worked on an organic farm in Ireland and taught English in Italy, and learned all there is to know about chasing sheep and eating long, leisurely meals with family. She is adamant about people living out their passions and reaching their highest potentials. Always follow that fire in your heart!