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Staying Motivated When You Feel Like You’re Not Making Any Progress

Published May 14, 2018

By Jordan Ottaway

Motivation is a fickle thing. One minute it’s there and you’re firing on all cylinders. Then a setback happens and you’re left stuck in your tracks. It’s ok to say you’ve been there or are there right now because I’ve been there too.

“The grind is not glamorous.” Think about that statement for a second. It’s not something people talk about because it shows that the road to meeting your goals isn’t easy. But obstacles don’t have to keep you from getting there. It’s all about knowing how to keep going even when the efforts don’t seem worth it.

This is when you need to dig deep and get your motivation back so you can continue your journey full force. I’ve gone through this process more times than I care to admit, but I wanted to pass along the tips that I found worked best for me in hopes they work for you as well.

Whether you’re running a side hustle, your own business, working to pay off debt, these tips hopefully help you achieve your financial and life goals.

Don’t forget your “why”

Step back and ask yourself WHY you own your own business, trying to quickly pay off debt, want to have that side hustle. Your why is your driving force that’s leading you towards success. Reminding yourself why you’re working towards your goal can revive your motivation and maybe spark a creative idea or two.

Just recently I had to remind myself of why I’m working so hard to pay off my student loans. My wife and I want to travel, so when I was thinking that my balance would never get lower, I reminded myself that we will be able to take some pretty awesome vacations once those get paid off. (Like our last trip to Destin, Florida)

Balcony overlooking a beach

Learn from your mistakes

I’ll admit that I have struggled with this, but making mistakes is where you sometimes learn the most about whatever it is you’re doing. The big thing is to learn from them and see how you can improve going forward.

Whenever you make a mistake, professional or personal, take a step back and see how you handled the situation and see what you can change moving forward so you don’t make that mistake again. It’s never a bad idea to take self-evaluations every now and then to see how you can improve and step up your game. 

Look at what you have accomplished

When you feel like you’re not making any progress, it’s easy to focus on the negatives and forget about how far you’ve come. Take some time to look at all you’ve accomplished and all the new skills you’ve picked up in that time.

You’ve probably gained knowledge that helped you pick up skills you didn’t know how to do over time. Give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve grown since starting your journey. I do this all the time as I grow as a photographer. I look at how my composition, editing, and color have improved over time.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me a much-needed confidence boost to get back out there and keep going. 

Surround yourself with the right people

Growing up playing competitive golf, my parents always pushed me to play with people that were far better than me. Why? It made me a better player. They would tell me that they would do the same thing when they would go to dance competitions, so I took it to heart and always played with those that were better than me.

I tell you that story because the people you surround yourself with does have an impact on your performance and progress. If you hang around people who are always negative or don’t support your goals, you won’t be as driven and probably won’t go as far as you would want to.

On the other hand, running with a crowd that has passion and wants to see you succeed only pushes you to do more and fine tune your craft.

Celebrate victories both big and small

Accomplishments, both big and small, should be celebrated because that is obvious evidence that you’re making good progress. Like we talked about a couple sections ago, it gives you a confidence boost and makes you want to take that next step to achieve that next goal on your list. Keep a log of all your accomplishments so you can look back to them when you need a little pick-me-up.

Feeling stuck in a rut is tough but sticking true to what you believe in can help you find opportunities for growth and success.

Headshot of Jordan Ottaway
Jordan Ottaway contributed to the Neighborhood Credit Union blog from 2016 - 2019.