There will inevitably be times like this. Times when you lose all motivation and begin to feel like a shadow of your former self. You feel lethargic and ashamed of yourself like you’re in a rut and there’s no way out. And this sucks, hard. However, the good news is that there is a way out. It’s hard to see it when you’re in the dark, disoriented and lost, but it is there somewhere. All you need is a guiding light, a helping hand, to get you there. If you’re lucky to have someone who cares about you enough to notice that you’re at your lowest, someone who has the strength to carry both of you, then you probably know how true that is. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it by yourself. Besides, the sad reality is that not many of us are that lucky, because even the closest people may lack the necessary qualities to help you recover. So, in the end, you are the only one you can always rely on, at all times, and you owe it to yourself to give yourself a hand when you need it the most. And by that, I mean that you need to have a plan for such occasions, a go-to guide on how to pull yourself out of the swamp by your own hair so that when you find yourself in a situation when everything falls out of hand, you knew that if you stick to it, everything will be alright.
And as I’m coming to the end of one of those rough episodes that dragged on for somewhat longer than I expected it to, I decided to write this guide as a reminder to my future self that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can bounce back at any time you want by following the rules below. Granted, these are my personal practical tips on how to get back on track, but I’m sure that anyone can benefit from them.
- Rule #1: be compassionate.
Be easy on yourself. Don’t judge. It’s okay if you don’t have the energy to get your ass out of bed in the morning. If you fail to get your shit together, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. You’re not. You. Are. Not. A. Failure. It happens to everyone, you’re not special in that sense. Accept that you’re going through some shit right now and let go. All that matters is that you’re trying your best to get out of there. Maybe you think that your best is not good enough, but it is orders of magnitude better than giving up. Keep grinding and be proud that you’re still standing.
- Rule #2: get your neurochemistry straight.
No matter how much fuel you have, a car won’t move if it’s motor is broken. Similarly, no amounts of motivation will make up for the chemical imbalance in your brain. We are biological machines and as cars need maintenance, so as our bodies. So, no drugs (they inhibit motivation in the long term), get some supplements (have a list that contains all stuff that works for you), and, of course, exercise.
- Rule #3: remember what makes you happy.
Be honest, excessive content consumption (series, video games, etc) does not make you happy. It never did and it never will. It only distracts your mind from the void inside of you left by the existential dread. It numbs the pain by putting you into the voluntary comatose. And look, I understand. In that state, it’s hard to remember that the thing that was actually making you happy before is work, the productive work. I know, it probably sounds crazy, but just trust me, okay? Getting shit done feels great. So great in fact, that it almost is a reward by itself. Try it for yourself. Just start doing something even (especially!) if you don’t feel ready and you’ll see. Does it feel familiar? Do you remember now? It feels like breathing fresh mountain air after being stuck in a traffic jam for hours, breathing dust, smog, and sweat. You do that long enough and you’ll rewire your pleasure centers and learn to love even the most boring aspects of your work, again. And if you want to accelerate that process (which you should), cut off other pleasure sources or even try dopamine fast.
That’s it. These three rules are really all you need to get back in the game. Now, go and get yourself out of that rut, champ! And remember, don’t ever give up.