Staying Motivated When Success Seems Like Too Much Work

How to stay motivated when all you want to do is stay in bed...We all have days where all we feel like doing is flopping on the couch and relaxing. (Or in my case, going out to eat and relaxing.)

There are things that we know we should be doing in order to be successful, but we just don’t feel like doing them. And that’s normal.

No one is gung-ho 100% of the time. It’s ok to give yourself a break, especially a scheduled break. It’s even a good idea.

The problem occurs when “I don’t feel like it” or “Oh I’ll do it later” becomes a way of life.

Think about these two questions:

1. What is the most important thing that you want to accomplish?

2. How much time did you spend working toward that thing yesterday, and over the past week?

Now, how do those amounts of time compare to the amounts of time you spent doing things that aren’t all that important in the long-term? (Like folding laundry, doing yard work, or getting a new high score on your favorite game.)

Laundry and yard work will always be there. But your goal? It’ll be successfully DONE once you get there.

Spend your time on what’s actually important to you

If you want to be successful at something, then do things that will get you to where you want to be. I know, I know, it seems completely obvious — and it is, until success seems like too much work.

The thing is, there’s probably a reason that it seems like too much work. For one thing, it does take work to successfully reach a goal. But if you’re constantly putting off the things that will get you to where you want to be, think about why you’re doing that.

Face your fears

Take the goal we had (and succeeded at!) of becoming debt-free, house and everything. A fear I had to face regarding that is, what if — now that our house is paid-for — some disaster happens and it’s completely worthless and we end up with nothing? It could happen, and of course I hope it doesn’t, but I can tell you already that I’m glad we paid off our house.

Once you discover what you’re afraid of (because fear is usually the reason people put things off) imagine the absolute worst-case possible ending to your fear.

In my case, that would go like this. If a disaster happens in this relatively low-risk-of-disaster area, I think we’ll have worse things to worry about than a financial setback. Besides, disasters can strike bank and investment accounts too.

Now do the reverse

What’s the BEST case that could happen? Suppose our house triples in value now that it’s paid-for (that actually happened for a brief period during the real estate run-up — too bad it didn’t stay that way), we sell it, and we pay cash for a nicer place or take a trip around the world with the excess. Paying off the house sounds even better that way.

Get going

Once you get past the fears, the idea of “too much work” will often turn into an eagerness to get started. You may find yourself looking for a few extra minutes here and there to work on it, and making progress faster than you’d imagined.

Even on the days when you really are just wiped out and in the mood for a movie, you’ll still feel committed to the idea. Because you’re committed to the idea, you’ll find it easier to stick to doing what you need to do despite it being work. Success will be on its way!


  • Lizzie

    Wow, I think I needed to read this today. And I almost skimmed right through, I was so “afraid” of what it would say! Thanks for sharing this in such a bite sized piece.

  • Thanks for this, Jackie. Trying to envision the best-case scenario is very motivating. It’s easy to feel discouraged on a Saturday when you’re working and all your friends are out drinking mimosas at brunch :)

  • I’ve always got that fear of going all out and committing absolutely everything into a particular goal. This really helps put it into perspective. See the reward as bigger than the risk. Thanks Jackie!