3 Simple Steps To Stay On Track When You’re In a Tired, Unmotivated Funk

Maybe it was just because it was Monday. 

Maybe my weekend was too hectic.

Maybe it was because my kid woke me up three times: once to complain that he couldn’t sleep, once to tell me his stomach hurt, and another to puke.

Whatever it was, I stumbled out of bed feeling like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich marinated in a bag of Nickelodeon gak, trampled by a herd of bison, and left out in the sun to dry.

A glance at my calendar told me that I had more meetings than a millipede has legs giving me one and only one time to exercise, one and only one time to write an article, and zero times to take a seven-hour nap (which is the only thing I was contemplating doing).

Today was gearing up to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Drastic Times...

This wasn’t the first time I’d felt tired, sore, and unmotivated to do, well, just about anything. It happens from time to time, mostly unexpectedly, often after getting out of my routine (traveling being the worst of it). 

I’m sure you’ve been there.

You wake up, you’re dragging @$$, and it’s all you can do to make the coffee and stumble into work. You’re goals take a backseat for the day. Your attitude is crap. You’re in survival mode, just trying to make it to 5 o’clock.

But in the back of your mind, your hustle-guilt is chastising you for even thinking about taking a break. You have half a mind to check some emails, zone out in meetings, and call it a day. But you know a better life is waiting for you on the other side of persistence and hard work. 

So what to do?

Emails and zoning out isn’t a good long-term option. Neither is taking a seven-hour nap. No, drastic times call for drastic measures.

Luckily these “drastic measures” are about a straightforward as brewing a pot of coffee, don’t take much longer, and might even get you more motivated than chugging the entire thing.

Self-Administered Motivational Drugs

Staying on track requires motivation. And motivation is a fickle beast.

We don’t all have drill-sergeants belittling us for moving to slow. We don’t all have hard-nosed coaches screaming at us to pick up the pace. And, yelling at ourselves rarely works.

No, we need to self-administer some motivational drugs. Here are the three things I do (in order) to stay on track when stuck in the doldrums.

1. Recover Past Inspiration

We’ve all been inspired from time to time by a powerful quote.

Maybe you highlighted it in a book. Perhaps you saw it on social media. Or you could have an Evernote note with a bundle of inspiring thoughts for times like these (hint hint).

Wherever you store your inspiration, find it.

Re-read a quote, an inspiring article, or a favorite passage in a book. Find something that once lit you up; it’s likely to do so again. 

Don’t have one? That’s okay. You can use mine. I keep this bad boy printed by my desk for times like these.


“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

— President Calvin Coolidge

Good quote, right :-)?

While this step is rarely enough to push you through the entire day, think of it as the appetizer, the antipasto, the first step to warming your engine. It’s a step that sets you in the right mindset to persist, grow, thrive. It also puts you in the right mood for step 2.

2. Get Hyped Up on Some Rock Vids

Okay, maybe Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doesn’t pump you up as he does me. But that’s not the point.

You know who inspires you. You know who gets you fired up. So find a video of them doing awesome @#$& on Youtube and let it work its magic on your mindset. 

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about one of my favorite motivational videos of all time, 5 Mindset Hacks that Make Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson So Massively Successful. This vid jazzes me up. It reminds me that it takes hard work, a positive attitude, and a growth mindset to make my life what I want it to be.

Find your own video, or use the one I found. Either way, this step should help get your blood pumping and take you one step closer to killing your funk. In the next and final step, we’ll shoot that funk straight between the eyes. 

3. Remember Your Lighthouse

Your lighthouse is your guiding light, your beacon, the reason you started doing whatever it is you’re in a funk over now.

Maybe it’s exercise. Maybe it’s writing a book. Maybe it’s your side-hustle. Maybe it’s all three.

Whatever it is, this lighthouse of yours was, at one time, just an idea. To turn that idea into reality, you had to start working on it. And to start working on it, you needed motivation.

You’re going to write down that motivation now. 

Grab a sheet of paper or your favorite note-taking app and, for each project or goal for which you feel unmotivated, write down why you ever started working on it in the first place. Just one paragraph will do the trick. Get to the core of what it was about the goal that initially excited you. Recall why you started and where you wanted to end up. Most importantly, capture why this goal was so important to you and why it still is.


Here’s an example. I broke out of my last funk with these three simple paragraphs that took no longer than five minutes to write:

Exercise — I want to look good, and I know that exercise makes me feel good. I started because I wanted to do something hard... something that required me to push myself... something that required me to break through barriers. I wanted exercise to be that breakthrough part of my life that influenced all other parts of my life. Work hard in the gym, work hard elsewhere. Breakthrough walls in the gym, breakthrough walls in business and life. Push through the resistance. So that’s why I’m [here in my gym], sore and tired. It’s mornings like this when I need to push through. Breakthroughs can’t happen without resistance, so this is the perfect morning to do it.

Book — I want to be an author. I want to see a book on the shelf. I want to see my book in a bookstore, in a strangers hands. I want to have something to say, and say it. I want people to talk about me, my book, what I’ve accomplished. I want to hand my book to friends, strangers, crowds, anyone with an interest. I want to change their lives with what I know.

Articles — I want to grow my readership. I want to have 500k email subscribers. I want to be able to send my newsletter an email and have them not only interested in reading what I’m writing but actually buy things that I recommend... books, gadgets, etc. I want to make my living waking up, writing, working out, writing, eating, writing, resting and reading, writing, then publishing and marketing. The world is led by people who have something to say. Articles give me a chance to hone my voice, think through complex issues, and have something important, intelligent, insightful to say that changes lives for the better.

I didn’t think about it. I didn’t worry about whether the sentences sounded good or were grammatically correct. I just wrote until the core of why I’d started set these goals snuck out on the page. I wrote until I found my lighthouse.


God knows it takes persistence to get anything meaningful done. It also takes hustle. And, anyone who is persistently hustling over time will eventually feel exhaustion set in.

Sometimes that exhaustion is telling you to rest, to take a break from the hustle. On those occasions, it’s perfectly acceptable to dial it back and allow yourself the time and space to recharge. 

But for those times when you get off your routine, wake up in a funk and need to break out of it, following these three steps should restore your motivation:

  1. Warm-up your engine with a motivation quote or inspiration passage from a book.

  2. Get your blood pumping with a motivational video from an inspiring hero in your life.

  3. Shoot your funk straight between the eyes and get to work by remembering your lighthouse.

A quote, a video, and some stream-of-conscious writing are all it takes to kick your otherwise funky self back into gear. These steps will remind you of what you originally set out to accomplish. And, in less than 10 minutes, you can get back to work with renewed vigor, taking a day that started out shite and crushing it with aplomb.

About the Author


Michael Mehlberg


I help high-achieving entrepreneurs organize their brain and schedule so they can organize their life and business.

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