10: When You Have No Motivation, Do This Instead

Today I talk about what you should do when you have absolutely no motivation and everything seems a little too difficult.


 Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Minimal Minds podcast. I am your host. My name is Alex and it’s been a while How you doing? I hope you’re doing well. Today’s episode is dedicated to people who want to make positive changes in their lives but can’t seem to get any traction even with the really seemingly small things. We’re going to be talking about the absolute first thing you should be doing, and I’m going to be giving you multiple examples of how you can apply this strategy yourself in your own life today.

But before that, I have news, I’ve got updates, lots of stuff going on, you may be wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks. First thing, my ebook is now out, it’s called The Self Development Starter Guide, and it’s literally what it sounds like. It’s a book I’ve made that covers my personal favourite pieces of wisdom across four different areas.

Those being health, wealth, people, and the fundamentals, which just covers every other topic. It also contains recommendations to my favourite books, which have had the most impact on my life. And the whole point of this book is to point you in the right direction early on in your self development journey.

How much is it? Well, it’s the low, low price of free. That’s right, free. Just download it now if you want, right now. Well, how can I get this book? I hear you ask, this amazing book, with free advice. Well, that leads me to my second piece of news. I now have a newsletter, which again is also free. If you sign up to the newsletter, then the book will get sent to you automatically, and then once a week you’ll get updates on the Minimal Minds content.

Motivational quote, our top book recommendation for the week. It’s a no brainer, really, in my opinion. So, I hope you’ll join me and our little community we’ve got going on by signing up to our newsletter at theminimalminds.com And the final bit of news. Other big news. I am now a certified life coach.

Hell yeah, baby. So if you want help fast tracking your personal self-development process and you want someone to both hold you accountable and suggest ways to improve your life specific to your situation, you can reach out to me at alex@ That’s Alex, as in my name, alex@

Hope hear from you soon. Okay, well that’s about everything for news, I think. So let’s get into the topic of the show. What should you do when you can’t bring yourself to do anything? When you’re like at absolute bottom of motivation and as I keep saying you shouldn’t be relying on motivation first thing you should do, which has the most amount of impact with the least amount of effort is to change your environment. So in its simplest form changing your environment means either you moving to somewhere different. Or altering where you currently are to serve you differently.

So if your current environment is filled with things that are in the moment more appealing to you, compared to things that you know would better serve you in long term, of course you’re gonna do the easier thing. There’s no point beating yourself up about it, it’s, it’s just hardwired into your brain.

You can’t brute force your way all the time, you know? And that’s why smartphones are so addictive, it’s because they’re the easiest thing available to you, and they’re always with you because they’re so small. They’re always in your pocket. Alright, so I want you to imagine something. Imagine, like, the process of getting to your home screen.

When is the last time you getting to your phone home screen took you more than one minute to do? Your environment is filled with cues that push you in certain directions throughout the day. And it’s up to you, it’s your responsibility, to rearrange or remove these cues so that the cues remaining help you in the long term rather than hinder you.

So, I’ll give you an example. Here’s an example from my own life. I enjoy watching television. So does everyone I’ve ever met. Now, how much television do I actually watch? It’s less than an hour a day. It’s like 20 minutes. I watch an episode of King of the Hill on my laptop. Great show, by the way. But I’m eating dinner and that’s about it.

Not watching TV is easy for me because I don’t own a TV. So if I ever get a sudden urge to watch TV, well, I don’t really have the option to do that. So, not watching TV is the easiest option. I also love playing on my PS4, and I have tons of games that I know are just gonna be really good. I know I’m gonna enjoy them.

But here’s the thing, I haven’t even turned it on. I literally haven’t turned on my PlayStation in about seven months. And why is that? Well, it’s unplugged, and it lives in a cupboard. And I never see it, so playing it doesn’t really cross my mind. The process of having to take it out of a cupboard. Put it on my desk, find the right cables, plug it into the power, plug it into the screen, and actually start playing the games is just slightly annoying enough for me to just not bother doing it.

So how can you apply this principle in your own life? Here’s some examples for you. Let’s say you’re working on a project on your laptop, but you’re always getting distracted and losing focus. You could try changing your environment to a place where other people are also working on their laptops. Like a library or a coffee shop.

Because if you’re surrounded by other people doing the behaviour that you want to do, You’re much more likely to do it. Because if you’re not doing it, you kind of look out of place. Now, your first argument against this could be, well, it might take longer to get to this different environment than just staying at home.

But I guarantee you, you’ll get a lot more done, even in that reduced amount of time. Here’s another example. Let’s say you want to get more in shape, and you want to go to the gym. And as most gym members will tell you, me included, The workout is the easiest part. The hardest part about going to the gym is actually making the journey to the gym.

So in this instance you could change your environment by bringing the gym into your own home. This is something I did. I converted my spare room into an open workout space to reduce the amount of friction it takes for me to work out. Now, I’m not saying it’s like a full, massive gym with all, like, the benches and 5, 000 weights.

All I have is a 20 kilo kettlebell, because you can do pretty much all the movements with just that. And then I’ve also got a pull up bar downstairs in the doorway that I use the most often. Now, I can’t ignore my pull up bar, because if I do, I’ll literally hit my head, so I have to physically duck out of the way.

Now, doing one pull up and ducking is almost the same amount of effort, really. One is just a lot more satisfying than the other. So, by changing my environment literally just once, it didn’t take me long, all I did was order it and put it up on the door, I’ve pretty much automated all my pull up exercises.

It no longer requires conscious effort. Okay, example number three. Let’s say you are constantly distracted by your phone, or by the internet, or whatever, just in general. Imagine now that you’re suddenly transported into a beautiful cabin in the woods, all on your own, and you’ve got food, you’ve got water supplies and everything.

Now, suddenly, in this environment, your phone has no power over you. Because you don’t have access to the internet, or like a nearby cell tower. You’re not getting any of the notifications, you can’t talk to anyone. It’s essentially just a paperweight. Now after like a day, you wouldn’t even be thinking about using your phone, because you know it has nothing to offer you in those moments.

Now, this is an extreme example, I’m not saying move into a cabin in the woods. It’s not exactly realistic, even though it would be nice. But you can get close to the same effect, even in your own home, wherever you are. So, a thing I like to use is a socket timer that’s connected to my internet router. Now, it’s really cheap, it cost me like £8, I think.

Every night at 10pm, the timer automatically turns off my router. And suddenly, I’ve got no internet access on any device, so suddenly they become a lot more boring. This also stops me from aimlessly browsing or playing games on into the night. Stopping an activity in the moment that you’re reasonably enjoying is more effort than it is to continue, because things in motion tend to stay in motion. So, this socket timer… Removes the effort required for me to stop, because it literally forces me to stop. I no longer have a choice. Obviously I can just go and plug it back in myself, but it’s an added layer of friction against the behavior I know doesn’t serve me long term. Because I know deep down, that the truth of the matter is, I shouldn’t be on the internet past 10pm anyway, because I know it will affect my sleep, and I’m less likely to have a productive morning the next day.

So in summary, if you’re trying to muster up the willpower to do literally anything that’s good for you and you’re really struggling about it, the best thing to do is change your environment in such a way so that either, and there’s four things here, either A, the behaviour you want to do is automated by your environment, B, the behavior you don’t want to do is suddenly more difficult or no longer possible.

And C, you are surrounded by people who are doing the behaviour that you want to do. And D, which is the opposite, you are not surrounded by people who are doing the behaviour you want to avoid. Pretty simple stuff, once you get your head around it. Don’t overthink it. Um, yeah, hope that helped. Uh, that’s everything for today’s episode.

I hope you gained value from what we talked about. And if you did and you want to see more of my content, you can subscribe to our free newsletter like I mentioned earlier with the link in the show notes. And you’ll even get my new ebook for free as a gift for signing up. Thank you so much for listening.

You can buy me a cheeseburger in the link below if you’d like to. Completely up to you, but you know, I love my cheeseburgers. I’ll see you in the next episode.