This is what’s killing your motivation
+ what to do about it
Hey there —
In case you missed it, last week we announced that Snail Mail is coming to a close and our final issue will be November 13th. Much love and gratitude to all our Slow Pokes who read and subscribed for the last two years. ❤️
Think about the last time you felt unmotivated to complete a task (even if it was important or something you typically enjoy doing).
Now think about how you felt physically and mentally in that moment. Do the words exhausted, foggy, bored, or drained spring to mind? 🥱
Well, there’s a reason “tired” and “unmotivated” go hand-in-hand. Like peanut butter and jelly or autumn and pumpkin spice, recent evidence suggests that fatigue and motivation are tightly linked.
As in, the more fatigued you are, the less likely you’ll feel motivated to exert effort…and the less motivated you are, the more fatigued you’ll feel.
This phenomenon may actually mean that our afternoon slump has less to do with running out of mental energy and more to do with running out of incentive to keep working. As Vox’s science and health editor Brian Resnick, describes it:
Thankfully, continued research on the connection between fatigue, motivation, and how our brain decides whether doing something is worth the effort provides some insights on how to keep up our energy.
🔕 Reduce temptations. Having multiple content streams vying for our attention increases the aforementioned draw to do anything but the task at hand. Close those tabs, use “do not disturb,” and put your phone in another room during focused work periods.
📋 Take control. One study found that people were less likely to experience demotivating fatigue when they felt more in control of their work. When faced with a task or project, make a plan for how you’ll tackle it. (Preferably broken down into small, simple steps!)
⭐️ Focus on the reward. Along with feeling in control, workers who felt rewarded for their work also experienced less fatigue. While there’s evidence that external rewards (like money or prizes) are effective, focusing on an internal reward (a deeper “why” that aligns with your passions or values) may be the most motivational in the long-term.
🏆 View small wins as a big deal. Retired ultra-endurance athlete Christopher Bergland suggests that making “conquering molehills feel like summiting Everest” can help convince your brain that even mundane tasks have value — boosting your drive to keep at it.
So the next time you find yourself yawning at your desk or struggling to find the motivation to complete a project, don’t just reach for that second (or third) cup of coffee.
Look for ways to leverage the relationship between fatigue and motivation (even if it’s as simple as going to bed a bit earlier or promising yourself a li’l treat for finishing that paragraph), and you just might find your second wind.
The motivational perks of cultivating an underdog mindset
by Christopher Bergland
If you watched Coco Gauff win the U.S. Open this year, you may recall her shoutout to all the doubters who fueled her drive to win.
Christopher Bergland, three-time Triple Iron Man winner (and Guinness World Record holder for running 153.76 miles on a treadmill), is also a fan of this motivational strategy.
In this article, Bergland shares some of the specific and unique ways he’s used his naysayers — and his own imagination — to propel him through the daily struggle and toward his goals.
(P.S. The opening of this article is admittedly very neuroscience-y, so if that’s not your thing, just skip to the first header on “Cultivating an Underdog Mindset” to get to Bergland’s story.)
I did a plank every day for 120 days. Here’s what happened.
by Brendan Leonard
Are healthy habits like exercise good for you? Yes. (Although, according to this comic, the internet jury is split on the benefits of planking.)
Do we always come to love our healthy habits after successfully implementing them? Uhhh… 🤐
This tongue-in-cheek post is for anyone doing what needs to be done (or what you know is probably good for you) even when it’s not exactly fun or wildly transformative.
National Novel Writing Month
Have you ever wanted to write a novel, but the idea of penning an entire book feels a bit overwhelming? NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) is here to provide a helpful guide and a dose of motivation! ✒️
Founded in 1999, NaNoWriMo has become a global community of writers united by the goal of writing 50,000 words — or 1,667 words a day — every November. (In fact, you may have read some best-sellers that got their start as NaNo novels.)
If this sounds like your kind of 30-day challenge, create an account on the NaNoWriMo site and get set to log your daily word count (and earn some fun badges!) starting on November 1st.
Whether you “win” the challenge or not, half the fun is in the trying — and in expanding your writing community through the online forums, complete with joinable local regions that organize virtual and in-person meetups throughout the month.
How can you know that you’re doing the right thing or making the right decision?
— Sampath P., India
Phew, that’s a big question…and an anxiety I’m pretty sure all of us are familiar with. 😰
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect checklist that can assure us, without a doubt, that every decision we make is the right one — especially since what’s “right” for one person, isn’t necessarily the best choice for everyone. (While Harry Houdini’s decision to run away and join the circus might have worked out, we wouldn’t universally recommend that career path.🎪)
But the fact that decisions are so unique to the decision-maker is probably the key to making your best judgment. Take a look at your options and then weigh them against your personal values and goals. Does this thing align with what’s important to you and — most especially — the kind of person you want to be?
From there, sometimes the most you can do is carefully consider your options (and maybe reach out to a trusted friend or family member for advice), make the best decision you can with the information you have, and then accept there’s a whole lot in life that’s out of your control — even when you do make a smart, well-informed decision.
For more on making peace with this uncertainty, check out this video from Matt. And best of luck — you’ve got this! 🤗
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella