Ask Celes: Have You Ever Lost Motivation During Your Journey?

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(Image: Ethan Lofton)

Hi Celes. Throughout your blogging/writing/personal development career in the past few years, have there been times when you are tired and running out of ideas from what you’re doing?

How did you overcome them and how did you motivate yourself again?

So for example, I love what I’m doing right now, but there are just times when I need to break myself from it – like having a day or two off those activities, usually when I’m running out of ideas and/or feeling tedious from repeating the same thing (lack of excitement after doing it for a while).

Thanks! – Nicholas

Hi Nicholas! 🙂 It would appear there are 2 parts to your first question – (a) Whether I’ve ever lost motivation and (b) Whether I’ve ever run out of ideas for my work.

To answer (b) first, no I’ve never run out of ideas. In fact I was just telling a fellow reader today that I’ve too many ideas and not enough hands/time/resources to execute all of them!


As a result, what I do is I often prioritize – focusing on my big rocks (things that are the most important) and the 20% high-value tasks (the things that make the most difference in achieving my big rocks). In doing so, it has helped me continuously gain clarity on the things that matter and the things that don’t, so it’s a great personal growth lesson.

For some out-of-the-box methods to generate new ideas, you may find 25 Brainstorming Techniques useful.

On (a) whether I’ve ever lost motivation / felt tired in the course of my journey, actually yes – there have been a handful of times when that happened, though more so at the beginning of my journey than now. And not really lost motivation per se, but more like a feeling of disheartenment.

It wasn’t for the reason which most might think though – it had nothing to do with whether I was getting results or not getting results. One, I never felt that I wasn’t achieving results – everything pretty much progressed in line with what I had planned, if not better. Two, I always see the results (or lack of thereof) as a function of our efforts. If we aren’t getting the results we seek (yet), it’s only but a cue for us to revise our strategy and actions accordingly. When you keep working on something (and adapt your actions in accordance with your results), it’s a matter of time before you achieve your goal.

My points of feeling disheartened (in the past) came from not feeling appreciated for my work or feeling like my work was in vain.

For example, there were times when I would work my butt off on a certain project/article, but get (what I felt was) unsupportive feedback.

A case in point was when I first released Personal Excellence Book in 2010. PEBook is meant as a compilation of the best-of classics at the blog, which readers can purchase (a) as a handy tool to pursue their growth and (b) to support the blog at the same time. I remember I had a reader argue about the price of the book and that it wasn’t worth the price because some of the articles were already offered via the free ebooks on the blog. Personally, I found it somewhat depressing because I had set the price after much consideration and ensuring the book was well its worth. At that point, I didn’t understand why it had to boil down to quantifying the book’s worth in such granularity.


Another time was when I first released Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program (paid version) in 2010 as well, after intensively working on it for several weeks. It was my second paid product on PE, after 2 years of running the blog. When I shared that purchase of 30DLBL was necessary to attend the Dec 2010 run of 30DLBL (since it was based on the new program), some readers said it was unfair that I was charging money. They felt I should make it free and let everyone participate, even though (a) it was/is a full-fledged program which I spent a lot of time and effort creating, and (b) I have to dedicate my time to run and moderate the challenge and attend to participants’ needs – like a full-time job. Similar programs like this out there would easily cost hundreds to thousands of dollars; but because I had been/still am giving so much of myself for free at PE, I felt I was expected to keep doing that and never ever charge for anything I do (in which case I didn’t see how I was ever going to earn any semblance of an income from my work).

I would also feel disheartened in the past, when I dedicated my whole self to running challenges (be it past 30DLBL runs, or Healthy Living Challenge), but encountered participants who chose to give up mid-way / drop out during the challenge. I often felt quite frustrated during those times. Short of flying over to the countries they live in, knocking on their doors, and getting them to log onto the computers/daily tasks and work on them, I never knew what exactly I should/could do to help them on their goals. Sometimes I felt like I was more invested in others’ growth than they were, which was a somewhat bizarre situation to be in.

In short, because I was giving so much of myself (here at PE), I couldn’t help but feel that many people often took me/my efforts for granted. That I would forever be here doing this regardless of whether anyone paid any heed to me/my efforts or not. While none of these sentiments have ever changed my intention to pursue what I was/am doing for the rest of my life (it is after all what I had set as my life purpose), I still felt pretty disheartened during those times. It inevitably led to wondering why I was even doing all of this to begin with, and to what end I was doing it for.

In the end, what eventually helped me break out of the sentiment was when I questioned the source of the emotion. I realized my on/off disheartenment often hinged on my readers’ reactions (or non-reactions in this case). Somehow, I had subconsciously expected my readers to fulfill a certain role in my passion pursuit – be it to respond to what I write, to share supportive feedback, and/or to work on their life/growth.

But when I drilled down into this expectation, I realized it was naught. Totally naught. I realized I had no right and no place to expect anyone, not even the readers at PE, to ever do anything. I realized the only thing I could ever do is to relentlessly pursue my passion to grow and help others grow. Whether others want to work on their growth would be their choice and their decision to make.

When I realized that, I gained peace with myself, and in a way, my passion. Since then, I’ve focused solely on pursuing my passion as best as I can, without expecting anything back from the world or my readers.

I’m happy to say that this has given me a lot of new found joy (I was previously happy; but since then I became even happier). It has also released the pressure off my readers from having to fulfill anything at all – hence allowing them to come into their own, if you ask me.

I believe that when we focus more on the things we can effect vs. the things outside of our control, we are able to achieve more of what we want. To the point where we adopt 100% internal locus of control, we gain 100% control of our reality.


So for example, I love what I’m doing right now, but there are just times when I need to break myself from it – like having a day or two off those activities, usually when I’m running out of ideas and/or feeling tedious from repeating the same thing (lack of excitement after doing it for a while).

I think it sounds like a matter of developing an empowering routine, where you create a strategic routine that empowers you.

It’s not practical to expect yourself to work on the same thing continuously with the same burst of energy since we are creatures of growth. Doing the same thing endlessly = Repetition and stagnancy = Weariness to our minds/hearts/souls. This is where varying what we do is important.

It’s also not practical to expect yourself to work non-stop on anything at all since we’re not robots at the end of the day. This is where taking breaks is important – in Habit 2 of 8 Habits of Highly Effective People, I raised the importance of allocating strategic breaks.

So an example of an empowering routine: Day 1 – (Morning) Work on Project A; (Afternoon) Work on Project C; (Evening) Meet-up with long-time friends. Day 2 – (Morning) Work on Project B; (Afternoon) Read some books; (Evening) Rest/Alone time. Day 3 – (Morning) Attend a networking event; (Afternoon) Do some long-term planning for business; (Evening) Work on Project A. And so on and so forth.

The point is to keep doing the tasks that excite you the most at the current moment, so you’re forever tapping into your inner source.

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