Sometimes the darkness is your candle.
Having the best strategies for building your business in place means nothing when the black dog of depression steals your motivation. The lack of motivation resulting from depression (and other mental illnesses or psychological injuries) can be debilitating for you and devastating for your business. But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
On any given workday, there are likely to be a few things that are so important they must be done as soon as possible. Depression doesn’t care about them. Which is why having a strategy for getting things done when depression steals every ounce of your motivation is a necessity, not a luxury.
Depression often saps motivation so completely it derails even the most exciting plans. Thus leaving you with an ever-growing list of tasks that remain undone. To an outsider, and perhaps even to yourself, this can look like apathy or laziness.
But, the lack of motivation that results from depression isn’t the same as laziness. Lazy business owners can, but simply don’t want to (or choose not to) exert themselves. Depressed business owners want to do their work but just can’t because their motivation has been hijacked.
If this has happened to you, and it does happen more often than you might think, and to people you’d never guess have had to deal with it, then read on for a 3-step strategy for helping you overcome a depression-related lack of motivation.
Three Ways to Combat Lack of Motivation
1. Identify the Essentials
When you are operating on all cylinders you likely have a good sense of your priorities and tasks for the day and are highly motivated to dig in and get into the zone. However, when depression strikes and motivation is absent, your ideas about what is essential and what isn’t must be adjusted and reduced.
Depending on the severity of the depression you are dealing with on a particular day, you might have to limit yourself to no more than three essential tasks but you start by choosing just one.
Just one task is all you have to focus on.
Now, getting just that one thing done is going to take major effort. And, on a really bad day, it could mean that when that one thing is done, so are you. It’s ok! Considering what you were up against, it’s an incredible accomplishment.
Once you’ve finished your one task, you can re-assess to see if there is any energy left to attempt a second one. And don’t be surprised if there isn’t. However, if there is, take a bit of a break, then give your second task a go but don’t expect to be able to finish it. If it does happen, consider it a bonus. Then you can decide if you want to go for the third.
And if it doesn’t, let it go and be happy you got the one thing that was most important done, even if it took you all day and a few time-outs (or naps).
2. Break Large, Time-Consuming Tasks Down into Smaller, Shorter Ones
Realistically, your one essential thing might, in fact, be quite a large task. It will seem even larger when you’re depressed which is often why it gets let go creating an opportunity for it to get even worse. Look at the task and break it down into smaller, easier actions.
Keep in mind, even this can seem too much in a state of depression. If that’s how it looks to you right now, choose the one action that is the shortest, easiest, and least energy draining of them all. Then tell yourself you only have to do that. And promise yourself, when this one tiny thing is done, you have permission to collapse on the couch and recover.
This might seem pointless but it isn’t. It allows you to get started on an essential task immediately, with permission to stop after taking just one action free of guilt.
Yes, it does take longer to get things done using this method. But it’s better than not doing anything at all. And, quite often, just the getting started on something, anything, can relieve the pressure of depression. Even if it’s only just enough to allow you to recapture some energy and motivation for taking a second action.
However, even if it doesn’t, you are still making progress. Whereas otherwise, you wouldn’t.
3. Celebrate Even the Smallest Actions
Any action you are able to take, no matter how small, is a victory in overcoming the inertia that is depression. This is powerful beyond imagination and should be celebrated.
Use these small victories to remind yourself you can still make progress in your business, even when you are depressed, simply by taking one step at a time. The size of the step is less important than having taken it. Even if several days are required to achieve it.
Depressed or not, nothing happens in your business until something moves. And, when depression causes a lack of motivation, you won’t have to be afraid of it anymore. Because you’ll know from past experience you can still beat it and get things done.
More next time. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.
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