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This article originally appeared on Aug. 29, 2014
I’ve been working on one project in particular for what seems like forever now — and I’m growing frustrated. I have nothing to show for my hard work. The project feels as if it has come to a standstill. Day after day, nothing changes, and I find myself wondering, how long can I keep this up without giving up?
Self-doubt has crept in. I know walking away isn’t the answer, but these negative feelings are starting to eat away at my creativity.
Staying motivated is even harder when it comes to challenging projects that seem to drag on and on. That doesn’t mean we should shy away from them, though. Use these tips and strategies to stay focused and on track.
1. Feed your soul. There are a lot of ways to do this. Professionally, I find that the best way to feed my soul is to surround myself with people who are positive and who have my best interests at heart. I need all the support I can muster, and they help lift me up.
Related: 3 Ways to Stay Motivated
If I’m working in a team, I know how much I benefit from relying on them. I keep in touch. I brainstorm with them. I ask for their opinions. More often than not, simply asking a co-worker or someone I respect for their opinion leads me to a solution for a problem that has been vexing me. And it’s so easy to do!
2. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. What’s it all about, anyway? Have you forgotten? Most of us do, to one extent or another, because we’re focusing on the daily grind. Do whatever it takes to keep your goal in sight.
Write it down on a huge sticky note and plaster that note to your computer. Find an image that represents your goal and hang it in your line of vision. Thinking about why I’m working so hard always reenergizes me!
3. Ask for help. When something isn’t working, stop and ask your boss, manager or mentor for their advice. Don’t wait too long to ask! When I find myself feeling stuck, I know someone with more experience might be able to shed some light on my problem. Listen, but also ask a lot of questions.
I still call my mentor when I’m stressed out, because he always helps get me back on track. He can see the big picture when I’ve lost it.
4. Get inspired. When I need a little pick-me-up, I read The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. It never fails to remind me of what I am capable of, and how to achieve it. What books or blogs inspire you?
5. Have a hobby. What gives you joy outside of work? If you have trouble answering this question, then you may have a problem. I don’t have many hobbies, but I do have one: I love to garden.
My backyard is my domain. I don’t depend on other people to do it and it’s always available to me. When I’m feeling low or overwhelmed, I work in the dirt. I find it very relaxing. Then I return to my desk a little more light-hearted.
6. Give back. Stop focusing so intently on yourself and your business for a bit. Find a way to help someone else. Donate your time. If I’m losing my magic, this helps without fail.
Staying motivated isn’t easy, especially when the goal you’re working towards seems as far out of reach as ever. Try not to get too down on yourself. Likewise, don’t get too excited when things are going well! Success takes time. There will be stops and starts.
You’ve heard this before, but I’ll say it again: You had better try to enjoy the journey, because, speaking from experience, reaching the top won’t feel as great as you think it will.