Finding Hope Moving Forward

How to Motivate Yourself To Keep Going

How to Motivate Yourself to Keep Going | Hopeful Panda

A lack of motivation is linked to depression, which is, unfortunately, a common effect of childhood abuse. Learning how to motivate yourself and stay motivated (for the most part) is essential for your healing journey.

Feeling unmotivated is something I struggle with on an almost daily basis. And it’s been particularly challenging recently. So I decided to write this post, not only as a reminder to motivate myself to keep going but to hopefully help others find their motivation.

What is Motivation?

Simply put, motivation is what compels a person to do or not do something. It’s what drives you to stay towards a goal.

In the terms of this blog and post, for most of us, motivation is what drives us to continue moving forward. This post will focus on various tips that I use to try to motivate myself to keep going, to keep surviving, and to keep living.

Motivation is actually crucial for the healing process. We need to have the motivation to want to heal to be able to heal.

I can get into the nitty-gritty details of motivation. But the purpose here isn’t to learn about the science of motivation. It’s to FIND motivation.

Motivation is the force that pushes me to want to heal. It’s what got me to start this blog and keep it going. But man, it is not easy.

Lacking Motivation

Feeling a lack of motivation is something I’ve experienced for as long as I remember. I do not doubt that it’s caused by my depression, which is in turn caused by my abusive upbringing.

You probably know very well what abusive parents can do to your psyche. One tiny sign of disapproval or invalidation can destroy whatever motivation you had as a child to meet your goals or chase your dreams. So there’s no doubt your toxic upbringing killed your drive to want to keep pushing forward.

Even surviving feels hard, let alone trying to accomplish any goals or reach any dreams. I still have trouble getting up in the morning on some days. It’s pretty amazing I can even get myself to sit at my desk, turn on my computer, and write this post.

I lack motivation… a lot of it. But I still have some. I still try to get up each morning. I still try to live life to the “fullest”, whatever that means. And I am still trying to keep this blog going even if the annoying voice in my head tells me it’s a failure.

14 Tips on How to Motivate Yourself

I can’t believe I’ve had Hopeful Panda for over a year already. Past me wouldn’t have thought it would last even a few weeks. There were so many times I wanted to give up. And this conflict is something I continue to battle.

More often than not, I don’t feel like working on this blog. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like doing anything. But I try my best to motivate myself.

Healing has definitely helped me feel more motivated than I used to. But unsurprisingly, the motivation is still very difficult to summon most days. It’s likely something you struggle with, too.

Feeling unmotivated is universal. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure to snap you out of it. But here are some things I try that have been helpful on many occasions. Whatever your goal or purpose is, I hope the tips in this post can help you learn how to motivate yourself to keep going.

Just do it, at least for 5 minutes

You can argue that to be able to just do anything requires some sort of motivation. And it does. But we all have some motivation. It’s what’s keeping us alive.

Sometimes, regardless of how much I don’t feel like doing something, I make myself do it, at least for 5 minutes. Well, it depends on what it is. If after 5 minutes I still can’t get into it, I tell myself it’s okay, I’ll try again later.

And this can apply to anything. Don’t feel like reading? Read for at least 5 minutes. Don’t feel like writing? Write for at least 5 minutes. Don’t want to exercise? Do it for at least 5 minutes.

Those 5 minutes may feel like an eternity. But set that timer or stare at the clock, whatever. Do it for AT LEAST 5 minutes. And if after 5 minutes, you’re still not feeling it, that’s okay. You can say you tried.

A lot of the time, all I need is to get into the groove and I end up getting more done than I thought I would. The trick is to give yourself just enough push to start. And to me, five minutes is a good number for a trial run. Feel free to come up with your own number if you’d like.

It may sound silly and redundant, but the best way to do something is to, well, just do it.

Don’t push yourself too hard

As you try to motivate yourself, try not to push yourself too hard. And this goes for anything.

While I try to push myself to do more or at least, do a little (y’know, 5 minutes), I know it’s important not to push myself too hard. The last thing I want is to put too much pressure on myself to the point I burn out. Because when I burn out, I’ll lack more motivation.

And if I lack even more motivation, I’ll start dreading what I do, which means, it’s even more likely that I’ll give up.

So pushing yourself too hard can actually kill your motivation. So be kind and gentle with yourself. You can push yourself, but just enough. You know your limits.

You don’t have to set deadlines

Many people recommend setting deadlines as a way to motivate yourself so that you feel like you have to do whatever it is you’re supposed to do. It’s something I used to believe, too and it does work at points. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that deadlines are actually counterproductive.

This is your life. This isn’t supposed to be a job (unless it is). Part of healing and self-care is to be kind and patient with yourself.

Setting deadlines can trigger anxiety. It can increase your chances of giving up on whatever you’re doing. Because once you miss that deadline, you feel like that’s it, that’s the end; there’s no point trying anymore.

If you believe setting deadlines will work for you, then, by all means, go for it. But please know that it is not necessary. And if you do set deadlines, try not to beat yourself up if you don’t meet them. Recognize that you’ve made progress regardless of where you are.

Take breaks

Knowing when to take a break is a form of self-care that I’ve been trying to implement more in my daily life. Taking breaks assures me that I won’t burn out. It also saves or replenishes my energy so that I can do more later.

If it helps, create a schedule. Add your breaks into the schedule and follow through with them. Once again, be kind to yourself.

Make achievable and reasonable goals

You’ve probably heard this before and it’s a cliche. But making goals can help you keep moving forward even when you might not be the most up for it. However, I try to keep it light so I don’t overwhelm myself. Thus, try to make achievable and reasonable goals.

For instance, healing may be your goal. But not only is “healing” a vague term, there is no such thing as truly healed. No one is 100% “normal” or “perfect“. Instead, your goal can be self-care or self-acceptance. Also, any sign of healing can be considered reaching the goal. In that case, make more goals for yourself (if you want to).

Having goals keep me accountable and make me feel at least somewhat obligated to keep working. Meanwhile, I can do as much or as little as I want as long as I achieve that goal.

Break goals into smaller goals

Look at your goals and try to break them into smaller, more manageable chunks.

The original goal you’ve set for yourself can seem intimidating and insurmountable. It can end up making you lose motivation.

When a goal seems unreachable, we might just give up trying. But if you break it down into smaller, more manageable ones, it will be easier to accomplish. Thus, it will be easier for you to keep going so you can reach your ultimate goal.

To use the last example, if you find it hard to do self-care every day, start by doing some form of self-care at least once a week. Once you meet that goal, increase it.

Also, try to make it something feasible. Rather than treating yourself every day, which can end up being more self-indulgent and unhealthy than helpful, plan specific self-care activities. For instance, take a break now and then or listen to some music to relax. Every day or week can be a different way for you to practice self-care.

Know your “why”

Sometimes, it isn’t about knowing “how” to motivate yourself, but “why” you should. Why should you continue your healing journey? Why should you work towards your goals?

The “why” we do things can be the very thing giving us motivation.

I need to continue healing because I want to feel better and live a healthier life with the people I love. I need to work towards my goals because I want to help others and feel personally fulfilled.

This is also known as intrinsic motivation – doing something because YOU find it enjoyable or satisfying, not because of external factors.

Therefore, your “why” has to be something that matters to you. If it’s not something you care about, you won’t feel any motivation at all. Sure, motivation is hard already. But if you have some sort of purpose or positive feelings for what you do, it’ll be easier to come by.

Have something to look forward to

Having something to look forward to is a huge way to motivate yourself to keep going.

Thinking about how I can feel better and all the benefits that come with it motivate me to try to feel better and continue on my healing journey. Thinking about how my posts will and have helped others, in a way, pushes me to keep Hopeful Panda going.

Celebrate your “wins”

When I do accomplish or complete something, no matter how small, I try to recognize it. 

This is a form of self-care AND a form of internal validation. This small feeling of accomplishment helps me stay motivated to keep trekking forward.

If it helps, reward yourself whenever you’ve met a goal. Give yourself a break, treat yourself to something small but nice, or even a little “you did it!” can make a difference to your motivation.

Write down your accomplishments

Whenever you achieve or overcome something, jot it down. You can keep a journal just for this purpose. Not only will it be a great reminder of your achievements, but it also serves as a motivator for you to keep moving forward.

It sends you the message that you have achieved a lot already and that you WILL achieve more. You just have to go ahead and try.

Take care of your health

Recently, motivation has been a huge obstacle to my productivity and general health. But maybe, it’s the other way around. Stress and other issues can definitely hinder your motivation.

It’s important to take care of your health – physically and mentally – because if not, it’ll cause other issues in your life. And those issues will kill your motivation. I know because I’ve been there. Actually, I am currently there.

My health issues have made it hard to do what I want to do. I lack energy, thus lacking motivation, to do what I want or should do. But if I spend some time taking care of myself and my health, it’ll grant me more energy, thus more motivation to work on my goals.

Create a routine

When we have a routine, we’re more likely to follow it. For me to make myself work towards what I need to work on – whether it’s healing, taking care of my health, or this blog – I add it to my schedule. Then, I try to make that schedule a habit.

However, just because it’s a schedule doesn’t mean I’m following through with it. That, of course, takes motivation as well. But the more I try to make working towards my goals into a routine, the more likely I am to follow through with it out of habit.

Create a space for you

You can call this the zone, the motivation spot, or your office – whatever you’d like. Make this the space where ideas manifest, where you get things done, and most importantly, where you can feel comfortable.

Having your own space gives you the time to BE you and DO what you want to do. Make this your happy place or the place where you believe can help you meet your goals or even chase your dreams.

Add things that make you feel good in this space. Limit unhealthy distractions or triggers if possible. But in the end, what you want to do with this space is completely up to you.

For example, my desk is my space. It is full of the green I like, various pandas on display, trinkets I’ve collected over the years, a cherry blossom plant, and a loving note from my husband. When I try to get work done (or at least to feel productive), I’ll sit at my desk and try.

Figure out what motivates you

This is perhaps the most obvious tip in this post. To know HOW to motivate yourself, you need to figure out WHAT motivates you.

Everyone’s motivation is different. Learning about what motivates you can be key to motivating yourself and staying motivated.

My loved ones and wanting to do better and feel better are what motivate me. When I am struggling with a lack of motivation, I try to think about these reasons. I tell myself the effort will be worth it.

But of course, my motivation might not work all the time. I feel more motivated some days than others. And it’ll probably be like that for you, too. Nonetheless, when I try to motivate myself, I use these reasons.

What are your reasons? What pushes you to keep going?

How to Motivate Yourself - Ways to Stay Motivated | Hopeful Panda


Of course, the tips in this post may work for me but may not work for you. Heck, it doesn’t even work for me all the time. Determination and willpower play a big role. And honestly, sometimes, we just wanna lay in bed and do nothing. And that’s okay.

You are the one who knows your limit. You know when you can keep going, you know when you think you “should”, and you know when it’s time to take a breather. You’re the one who knows whether 5 minutes is not enough, just enough, or too much.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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