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5 Ways to Stay Motivated When You're Stuck in a Rut - Totally the Mom

5 ways to achieve your goals when you've lost your motivation

Here’s a comment I get a lot lately: I know I need to do XYZ (insert any big goal you like here, declutter your house, deep-clean the bathroom, get up earlier, lose 20 lbs…), but I just can’t seem to find any motivation.

It happens. No one is immune, myself included. But when you find yourself caught in that rut, here are 5 ways you can stay motivated and achieve your goals (and to help you stay on track, I’ve created a little habit tracker for you – grab it free here):


5 ways stay motivated and achieve your goals when you’re stuck in a rut

1. Change your mindset. Sometimes smaller is better.

It’s great to want to lose weight, but 20 lbs from now can seem overwhelming and out of reach, sending you running to the closest pint of ice cream with a brownie, extra hot fudge and caramel (and now I want a brownie sundae…). But, if you break it down into smaller steps, it’s much more manageable. Using weight loss as an example, the changes you need to make are to adjust your eating habits and get active. Focus on those daily instead of the big goal of actual weight loss.

So, in this instance, your goal for today is to get in 30 minutes of exercise and avoid eating added sugar. See how that is different? You can do that for one day. And then tomorrow, you can set the same goal, or add to it, or change it up. Weigh in once a month to track your progress and see how you are progressing toward your big goal, but don’t get lost in the black hole between then and now.

Here’s another example. You’ve decided to declutter your house (and PS, click that button below for a free decluttering pack to help you with that), but thinking about every room and all of the junk you need to siphon through is leaving you paralyzed and demotivated. Break it into small steps. Start with one part of one room – a drawer even.  One drawer becomes a dresser, becomes a closet, becomes a room, becomes a floor, becomes a house.


2. Along with the point of adjusting your mindset, work in smaller chunks of time.

15 minutes a day is a lot more manageable than 40 hours. You can do just about anything for 15 minutes. And tracking those small step towards your bigger goal helps you stay motivated to keep going. You can grab your free habit tracker here:


3. Eat that frog.

Not really (ew, unless you’re a fan of frog legs?), but if you haven’t heard it before, this expression is an analogy for doing the hardest thing first. If that thing you can’t seem to make yourself do happens to be something you abhor, (for me this might be deep cleaning the bathroom), bite the bullet and do that thing very first thing. Get it out of the way and then it’s done and you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day and come up with excuses not to do it.

4. Be mindful. Find your “Why,” and put reminders of it in places where you need it.

If you want to save $10,000, keep that top of mind. Put it on a post-it and keep it in your wallet with a quick reminder of why you want to save that money. Maybe that’s to put towards a house, pay off debt or save to help send your kids to college. When you open your wallet to make a purchase and see a bright reminder with “Kids” on it (or “House” or “No Debt”), it’s going to cause you to think twice before making any purchases.

5. Get someone to hold you accountable.

Sometimes, pride can be a helpful motivator. Whatever it is you’re stuck on, share it with a friend, or even post it on social media. Let other people know what you’re attempting to accomplish.

Research backs this up. A study done by the Dominican University of California found that, “70% of participants who sent weekly updates to friends reported successful goal achievement.” The study also reported that only 35% of participants achieved the same result without sharing their goals or writing them down.

I’ll give you a recent personal example. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Jazzercise and go regularly, but since December, I had not been great at sticking to my workout plan. I let life busy-ness and sick kids become excuses to not find time to get to a class, even if it wasn’t my regular class. In February there was a challenge – 24 classes in 28 days. A tough one for any busy mom, but I also ended up getting sick and missing the first three days of the challenge, meaning that I would have to go essentially every day for the rest of the month in order to finish. I almost didn’t start because the thought of coming in every day for 24 days seemed unrealistic and overwhelming. But I decided to see how far I could get anyway (that’s, step 1 by the way — breaking a big goal into smaller, manageable steps).

In order to participate we had to write our name and track the classes on a big board on the back wall of the workout room. I couldn’t just quietly, “see how far I could get.” I had put myself out there as a challenge participant, and my Jazzercise friends were expecting me to show up. We left notes for each other, texted and encouraged each other along the way and before you know it, I had done it! If I hadn’t had that chart and my friends holding me accountable each day, I easily could have talked myself into dropping out because no one would know. But I’m so glad I didn’t. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and found new ways to fit in a class when I otherwise would have just missed a day. And my body is thanking me. 🙂

A Final Thought

If you still feel stuck in a rut, make sure you talk about it with another person you can trust. Sometimes this can be a sign of depression. Don’t write off how you feel and don’t be afraid to seek help. This article from Healthline about depression and motivation offers some great tips, including when you should seek help. Disclaimer: This post is not intended to serve as medical advice.

So, let’s review. : ) Here are 5 steps you can take to stay motivated and achieve your goals when you’re stuck in a rut:

  • Change your mindset and focus on small goals
  • Work in small chunks and set a timer
  • Eat the frog (do the hardest thing first)
  • Find your Why and be mindful of it
  • Get an Accountability Partner

Don’t forget to grab your free habit tracker to help you stay motivated to reach your goals.


Do you struggle to stay motivated? What is keeping you from your goals? Leave a comment and let me know – you know I love to hear from you! : ) And please share if you found this helpful!