On losing momentum.

At the start of this year, I was going gung ho towards making progress on my New Year’s resolutions, my goals. I lost ten pounds by going to the gym three times per week and cutting down on snacks and sugar. I was meal prepping lunches and making my own coffee to spend less money. I was writing a blog post every single week.

And then I started losing momentum.

It wasn’t a slow, heedless, loss of momentum. It happened pretty sharply.

In March I was working on a project at work and by the end of the month realized that in order to meet my April 30 deadline I was going to have to start working through lunch, working early and late hours, working on the weekend.

Basically I was going to have to work 24/7 in order to get it done in time.

I worked twice as many hours, a full two months worth of work, in those 30 days. That left little time for anything else besides sleeping or eating. And, really, no time for either of those.

I barely had time to breathe, let alone prep meals, cook, make coffee, write, go to the gym, be social.

I woke up, got Starbucks, went to work, stayed late, stopped for tacos or something from the Whole Foods hot bar, came home, ate, and passed out. And I repeated that cycle day after day.

When the month was finally over, when my project finally launched, I was too exhausted to want to do anything with my free time but crawl into bed and binge-watch Top Chef. I was too exhausted to even think about how to get my life back on track.

“I’ll start going to the gym again next week,” I’d tell myself, “I just need a moment to rest.”

And then, my cat got sick and needed surgery, which was an emotional and financial drain that kicked me when I was already down. I did nothing for two weeks but come home and sit in the bedroom with him and watch TV on my laptop and cry.

Things are now back to normal. My cat is doing fine, my job is back to being boring. But all of that motivation, all of that momentum, I had going into the year is now gone.

I am too exhausted to wake up early to go to the gym or write. I come home with all these ideas of being productive, telling myself all day that when I get home I am going to work on my blogs or clean or work out, and then just veg on the couch instead.

I still haven’t been back to the gym. I still go to Starbucks every morning because I wake up too late to make coffee myself. I still haven’t gone back to writing consistently. My apartment is still a mess. I have rotting asparagus from the farmer’s market in the fridge.

I have all of these things I want to do. All of these things I need to do. And all of these goals I want to work towards and accomplish. But all I do is crawl into bed and stay there.

What do you do when you’re not feeling motivated? What do you do when you’ve lost all momentum to accomplish your goals? How do you get back on track after a setback? How do you force yourself to be productive when all you want to do is sleep?

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Vince
    June 18, 2019at1:53 pm

    This sounds a lot like how I felt many years in college, especially the year I was pres of KCSA.

    What I’ve learned in the almost 20 years since then is how to give myself permission to set a really small goal (in service of the bigger goals) and ignore the other goals for now. And then make it achievable, and then achieve it. As an example, I usually file my taxes online using software, and rather than giving myself a to-do for the week of “do taxes,” I gave myself a to-do of “open browser tab for tax website and try to login.”

    The subtle but very real feeling of repeated accomplishments, even with a very small task each week, set the stage for feeling more productive. It also helped that about 40% of the time, I did more than I described in the task. But even accomplishing 100% of the small task (and no more) helped my overall mood and momentum.

  • Turner
    June 27, 2019at6:27 am

    This doesn’t bother me so much in and of itself, but I do worry there will come a time when I’m not able to snap out of it.

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