How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Giving Up
4 proven ways to regain motivation and continue plowing ahead
When the lockdown started, gyms were closed and to a gym rat like me, this was a highly unwelcome situation. After a few days of sulking and complaining, I started working out at home.
At first, motivation levels were high and I attacked my workouts consistently. But with time, tugging on resistance bands and doing the same old pushups in my same old room became pretty boring.
I skipped a day. One turned into two. Two to four and before I knew it, I had skipped an entire week. I used to look forward to and enjoy working out earlier. Now, it had become an ordeal, a burden. I felt like stopping altogether.
It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? We start out high on motivation but it dwindles and at some point, we feel like giving up.
A study published in the Journal Of Consumer Psychology found that motivation followed a ‘U’ — higher in the beginning and end of goal pursuit. So it’s in the middle that we tend to feel like giving up.
But it’s exactly then that we need to keep going and not give up.
Success isn’t a straight line but rather a messy tangle of failures and demotivated days. If you are feeling demotivated, here’s how to regain your motivation and plow on.
One day, while searching for something on my google drive, I come across a folder titled “Progress pics”. As I scroll through the pictures, a smile of pleasant surprise forms on my face.
“Wow! Was I this skinny back then? I’ve sure come a long way.”, I say to myself, beaming with pride. Ultra motivated, I then feel a sudden urge to work out.
Often, caught up in the process, we tend to forget just how far we’ve come from the start.
But it’s imperative that we remind ourselves from time to time as progress is one of the strongest factors for motivation. As Kenneth Thomas explains in his book, “Intrinsic Motivation at Work”,
“You are encouraged that your efforts are really accomplishing something. You feel that your work is on track and moving in the right direction. You see convincing signs that things are working out, giving you confidence in the choices you have made and confidence in the future.”
So don’t stop. Plow ahead. Let your progress serve as a reminder that if you were able to come this far, you are more than able to go much farther. As the age-old saying goes,
You didn’t come this far to only come this far.
Turn to Your Heroes
We all have heroes. We all need heroes. Someone to look up to, to provide substance to our ideals. It can be Spider-Man, your dad, Lionel Messi, or anyone else, real or fictional.
My fitness idol is David Laid, a 22-year-old fitness model who worked up from nothing and inspired a generation.
In his early days, he worked out in a garage and had only a bad phone camera to film himself. But this didn’t stop him from consistently working out or uploading. Today, he’s a sponsored fitness model and has over a million subscribers on YouTube.
When I’m feeling low, it’s his earliest videos that I watch, especially his viral transformation video and they inspire me to get off my butt and workout. He must have felt like giving up a million times, he even talks about it but he didn’t, so why should I?
Turn to your heroes, no, not in their prime but in their struggling days. They kept going every single time they felt like giving up, so why shouldn’t you?
Switch Things Up
While browsing YouTube, I come across a prisoner-style bodyweight workout video by Alpha Destiny. It had been a week since I last worked out but this workout was new and different so I felt excited to try it out right away.
Soon, I found ways to shake up my workouts from time to time so they never got boring and well, my consistency hit the skies.
I would also switch between working out on the terrace, my room, and the living room. The right environment, especially nature can profoundly improve your mood, energy, and mindset.
Through mental association, your brain associates activities with location, environment, and time. For example, your bedroom, bed lamp, and nighttime would be associated with sleeping.
Let’s say you are a writer and roughly at 8:00 AM every day, you sit down to write at your desk. With repetition, your brain starts associating ‘8:00 AM’ and ‘your desk’ with the activity ‘writing’.
So, when you feel demotivated, by writing at say 11:00 AM, moving into another room to write, or as an extreme measure, traveling to a different city, you ‘remove’ the associations. This in turn can lead to renewed motivation and vigor.
So switch things up from time to time to ‘unmake’ associations and keep your interest and motivation fresh.
Gamify the Process
We can’t help but love games. It’s because they are designed to be so. I remember gaming for hours every single day, even on exam days back in school and in college.
What makes games so exciting is the reward system that triggers rivers after rivers of dopamine. The best part is that we humans have a built-in reward system and this means that — in life, you can make anything and everything a game.
To stay consistent with working out, I played a simple game. The number of consecutive days I worked out without skipping was the score and leveling up was beating the past score.
Three, five, eight, thirteen, and so on climbed the score until I had no need to play the game anymore. I was back on a consistent schedule.
Gamify the process and surf on the waves of dopamine. Set milestones, assign points to them, reward yourself for achieving a certain number of points, and keep leveling up.
As humans, it’s natural to feel unmotivated from time to time. But choosing to keep going rather than giving up is what separates the winners from the losers. As Dale Carnegie says,
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
To summarize, here’s the four-step approach to keep going when you feel like giving up:
Look back to see how much progress you’ve made. You didn’t come this far to only come this far.
Turn to your heroes and notice how despite feeling like giving up probably a million times, they kept going.
Switch things up. Change the timing, environment, or routine to regain interest and motivation.
Gamify the process. Set milestones, assign points to them, reward yourself for achieving a certain score, and keep beating your high score!
So what are you waiting for? Get back on the grind.