There is a ton of content out there on how to always get more done, but not so much about how to keep the momentum in the long run. We are bombarded with strategies and techniques to always output more, but there always comes a point in our productivity when we get tired.
90% of people give up because they jump right into the action without being prepared for it.
We all experience a low at some point during our journey to success. After some time of great change, of new habits implemented in your life, you will hit a wall. Your work will seem less efficient, your progress will be slower. You will feel less motivated, you will feel like giving up. In fact, a lot of people do. They drop their plans and projects, and they never pick them up again.
Having been through this situation myself, I know what it feels like and how hard it is to keep going during those times. You start going back to your previous lifestyle. You get back from work and feel too tired to work on your hustle. You spend your weekends having fun instead of focusing on your goals. You find yourself excuses to avoid doing things, you sleep in, you pick up bad habits again…
Those reactions are completely natural, and only those who are prepared for it will refuse to give up their original plan. The solution to overcoming the first wall you will hit is to find the right balance between listening to yourself and getting things done.
The best thing about handling the lows is that it’s like handling the highs: the more you train, the better you will get at it. Soon, it will be easier to keep going than to stop. No jokes.
Analyze the routine and habits you set for yourself
Your productivity routine is the core of your success strategy. Once you have chosen the habits of your routine, all you have to do is follow the plan.
Except things never go to plan. After a while, you will become less inclined to radical change. You will feel less dedicated to your goals (diet, exercise, waking up early…) Again, this is completely normal. The first step in solving an issue is acknowledging it is here.People don’t change their life in weeks, months. They change their life in years, decades. Click To Tweet
We tend to only see the tip of the iceberg of success. Money, fame and recognition are all side effects that have their origin in the bottom part of the iceberg, underwater. From the moment any successful person gets in the news, we all assume they just got here. But there’s no such thing as overnight success. What appears to be instant is the result of years of hard work with a lot of lows on the way.
We all have our own definition of success. Not everybody considers rich superstars as successful. But in 99% of the cases, the iceberg theory applies, no matter the type of success and/or the techniques used.
The recovery from a low is divided in 3 steps:
- Acknowledgement of the low
- Planning for a new momentum
- Regain of momentum
This 3-step process will take weeks to complete from start to finish. The main reason people give up during a low is because they can’t find their way out of it. They think that they failed because they slowed down. But you only fail if you decide to stop trying.
#1 Acknowledgement of the low
The simple fact of realizing that you’re starting to give up parts of your routine might take over a week. You might mistake the beginning of a low for an accommodation period. Here are a couple cues that can help you identify a low:
- You skip more than 2 targets of any habit in a row
- You find yourself excuses to do so
- You start to think the hustle might not be worth it
- You get distracted easily
- You find yourself consuming a lot of online content
- You do things you told yourself you would stop for good
When these start happening, it is time to take action towards regaining momentum .
#2 Planning for a new momentum
When you routine starts weighing on your shoulders for the first time, you need to re-evaluate it. Low after low, you will perfect your routine to suit you as good as possible. After a long process of training and adjustments, you won’t feel the need to change it as often.
Write down all the components of your routine (habits) you told yourself you would follow a couple weeks ago. Circle the habits that you want to prioritize, the ones you truly want to commit to. Those are your high priorities, things you want to keep doing even though it might sometimes be hard to push through.Habits are like muscles, the more you train them the stronger they become. Click To Tweet
You might feel like completely dropping some habits on your list. After trying them for a little while, you realize that you don’t feel like they are so important to you. That’s okay, but you have to be sure that you are canceling them out of sound reasoning rather than lack of motivation or dedication. Keep your vision clear to know what to remove and/or keep.
#3 Regain of momentum
Once you have identified what you want to keep doing and what you want to do less (or not at all), you have to stick to the plan again, which is not easy. For me, a way that always works is to take one day off everything and focus on where I want to be, what I want to achieve, and what I need to do in order to get there. Essentially, my roadmap.
After that day off, I take another day to read and watch my favorite content, write my roadmap and my goals again. Anything that helps me enhance my clarity. This synergy of inspiration and execution creates the new momentum necessary to start going again.
On that second day I also exercise a lot. It re-activates my brain even more, and gives me a feeling of accomplishment and a will to push myself further. Exercising fuels the body and the mind.
A lot of people use the excuse of waiting for a specific date to not start projects. On the day they said they would start, they don’t get to work and the project gets postponed forever. Be careful to not let this happen to you with the regain of momentum. Once you have analyzed the situation and sorted out your priorities, don’t wait too long to get back to work.
Downtime doesn’t have to be a waste of time
Whether you’re having downtime during a productivity low or during your normal routine, it is important to pause once in a while. Everybody has a different routine, and while some will feel the need to have a break once per month, others will feel like like pausing once per week.What really matters is not how much time off you take, but what you do with it. Click To Tweet
If you completely let go of your plan while resting, it will be harder to get back at it, and you will lose time in the process.
Just because downtime has to be relaxing doesn’t mean it should be wasted with common alienating ways of spending this time. Downtime is a great opportunity to appreciate the things that drive you in the long term. This appreciation is acquired through the right mindset. One of the major differences between people who give up doing their best and people who constantly push themselves lies in how they perceive the same moments and temptations.
Contemplation versus proactivity
Here are a couple activities we all encounter in our everyday life, as seen from a passive point of view:
- A night out with friends
- Dinner at the restaurant
- Lazy morning
Here are the same activities, seen with a proactive mindset:
- Appreciating the people who support you
- Learning new things with documentaries
- Appreciating your people and counting your blessings
- Taking time to mindfully recharge your batteries
The simple act of switching your mindset to experience your downtime differently can have a tremendous impact on the way you move forward. Downtime doesn’t have to be passive. Make it proactive by acknowledging it as part of your journey.
Listen to your body and mind
We all have days when we don’t feel well. Having a healthy lifestyle will help to reduce the risks of getting sick and/or injured, but nobody is invincible. Once in a while, you will get a cold, you will pull a muscle, or you simply won’t feel good. I personally always get a bit frustrated when I get sick, because I pay a lot of attention to avoiding it. But there is no risk zero.Health is not valued until sickness comes. Click To Tweet
When you have a cold
Depending on the level of your sickness, you might be more or less able to move forward with your day. People also react differently to the exact same type of virus, depending on their metabolism, their built, their allergies… However, one thing that can also affect the way you deal with the virus is something anybody can work on: the mind.
There is a major difference between not feeling good because of a small headache, and not having slept for 3 days because of a massive cold. Overreacting to a minor headache won’t be beneficial to your self. Drink a glass of fresh water, go for a short run, and analyze the situation again. Your headache will most likely be gone.
Everyone has a different threshold when it comes to obstacles. Imagine you’re biking with a friend in the forest and you come across a massive tree that fell down. The trunk is completely blocking the path. It is almost as high as you are, and you have no other option but to carry your bike over it to keep going. You turn around to see your friend’s reaction, but he is already biking back the other way.
You didn’t even think of the possibility of going back in the first place. Your first reaction was to try to get the bike over the trunk, climb it, and keep going as if nothing happened. But your friend thought of leaving right way, he didn’t think of any alternative. You both have a different tolerance level for obstacles. Eventually, you manage to throw your bike over the trunk, climb it, and keep pedaling. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, and the tree is far behind you already. Everything is rolling again.
The same is true for minor viruses. Small colds, headaches and muscle pains can most of the time all be overcome with a bit of determination. A short run, a fresh glass of water, and a will to not get stopped by such a small thing.
When you’re not feeling well
There might be times in life when you will actually need a rest, and a glass of water won’t fix the issue.
It is important to be able to tell the difference between a cold and a need for a rest. I know a lot of people that are not listening to their body. They keep going without taking a break, until they have a minor (or major) burnout, spend the weekend in bed, and go back at it on Monday. That’s not the way to efficiency and proactivity.
Listening to your body is key to knowing when to have a break. Chronic pain is usually a good indicator that something is more or less wrong, that your body is tired, and that it’s time to slow down. For instance, you might have muscle pain that is bothering you on a daily basis.
Even if you have a break, chronic pain will come back if you don’t change what you were doing before. Your productivity routine should not be detrimental to your body and/or mind, and you should tweak it until you find the right balance.
It is also important to listen your mind. A lack of focus, of motivation or of willpower indicate that it is time to take a step back and reflect on your journey. Practicing mindful mediation has a lot of advantages. It keeps your mind clear, reinforces your motivation and helps dealing with anxiety, among other things.
Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.
Everybody will experience lows. But if you get discouraged by the slightest branch on your path while riding your bike in the forest, you won’t get far before you feel like stopping.
Hitting a productivity low can take different aspects. Identify what is happening and why it is taking place. Put together a plan to take action during the loss of momentum. Once in place, take a couple days to reflect and to get ready to move forward again. Do not wait too long, as you will risk entering a much longer downhill phase.
Finally, slowly regain momentum by sticking to your plan and aiming higher than where you left off.
Always remember to listen to your body and mind through exercising, a healthy diet, and mindful meditation. You will be well on your way to a productive recovery.