3 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You Feel Like Giving Up

“HELP! I haven’t gotten anything done in 3 days.”

One of my clients sent me an email recently because procrastination, self-doubt, and self-sabotage were consuming her. Not surprisingly, this email was full of frowny face emoticons. 🙁

And because my clients get unlimited email support, I get lots and lots and lots of these type of messages. I want my clients to tell me when they’re veering off track because I can’t help them if I don’t know what’s going on between our calls.

Everyone feels like giving up sooner or later!

Our motivation drains out of us and we feel helpless as the days slip by and our to-do lists grow ever longer.

I’ll give you the same advice I gave my overwhelmed client: you must set up a system to motivate yourself and use it consistently.

You won’t always have the option of leaning on a friend, your spouse, or a coach when you need a pick-me-up.

So how do you light a fire under your ass when you’re feeling burned out?

Here are 3 ways to motivate yourself when you feel like giving up.

Keep a Praise Folder

Whenever I receive an email, message on social media, or a thank you card that has a particularly kind compliment for me, I print out a copy and tuck it into a folder on my desk labeled “Praise and Recognition.”

Yes, I realize that you could also save these messages digitally, but I’m old school like that and like tangible organization.

There are times when I feel self-doubt and can’t seem to get motivated no matter what I do. When I start heading down that negative path, I pull out my praise folder and read over the sweet notes I’ve received from my clients, readers, and mentors.

Their words instantly pep me up and make me remember that my work has meaning. And that I should continue doing it.

Make a praise folder for yourself and fill it with anything you receive that makes you feel good about yourself and your work. You can use a hard copy folder like me or store all the bits of praise electronically.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Before I start my work day, I go through my self-care morning routine. I exercise, shower, get dressed (no yoga pants!), do my hair and makeup, meditate, flip through my morning stack, set my intention, and write in both my gratitude and aspiration journals.

By honoring myself first thing in the morning, I set the tone for my entire day. My routine celebrates my personal power, which makes me feel more capable when I write my blog posts, talk with clients, and interact with my loved ones.

Some people might feel bad about spending time on themselves, but self-care is hugely important if you want to be of service to other people.

And knowing that you’re going to be doing something good for yourself in the morning will certainly make you want to get out of bed.

Write in a Progress Journal

Our days can be so full and busy that it’s easy to forget all the little tasks you’ve completed and small victories you’ve had.

Think about it: do you even remember what you had for lunch last week let alone what you accomplished?

I write in a progress journal to keep track of all the mini tasks I’ve completed. I keep it next to my computer and write down each task as soon as I finish it. At the end of the day I can see a long list of accomplishments or “baby steps,” and it helps me recognize all my hard work.

Need your own progress journal? Here ya go!

The Weekly Progress Journal is one of dozens of free worksheets, ebooks, videos, and other resources in the Editor’s Toolkit. Click here to get instant access.

Here’s the truth: you’re a pretty amazing person, but that doesn’t mean you have endless energy supplies. You WILL want to give up sometimes, so it’s important to motivate yourself every day.

How do you motivate yourself?

In the comments below, share what you do when you want to give up.

This post focuses on Step 1 of the Life Editing Process, Create a Foundation. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar

Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.


  1. Kellie on October 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I’m a big list maker, sometimes just seeing it makes me feel motivated to get things done. It’s nice to get it out there, sometimes when it’s inside your head it can swim around and just feel overwhelming.

  2. Laura on September 24, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Oh Sage, thank you so much, this comes in the right time. From here I came to the morning stack and from there to the gratitude prayer… and so on. You are so helpful! I even lost motivation to journal! But tomorrow I’ll try to journal in the morning with all that inspiration from you. At least I bought some ink for my fountain pen, which is already motivating!

    • Sage Grayson on September 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      You’re so welcome, Laura. What do you include in your morning stack?

      • Laura on September 27, 2014 at 2:46 am

        I just started out with general journaling in the morning, trying to include some aspiration and gratefullness, all in one book and withing ten minutes. It’s really great!

  3. Suzi on September 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I do something similar to the praise folder but it is digital and I call it my inspire folder, it’s my go to when I need a lift me up. I love what you said about self-care “knowing that you’re going to be doing something good for yourself in the morning will certainly make you want to get out of bed” that is great motivation to get me going each morning. Thanks!

    • Sage Grayson on September 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      That’s a great idea, Suzi! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  4. Jennifer Kennedy on September 24, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I love the idea of a praise folder.

    I do the same, but instead of a folder, I have a binder. So, like you, I keep compliments and words of praise there. Additionally, I add inspirational quotes. So, for those times I’m feeling unmotivated I open up that binder to remind myself of the good things I’m doing.

    Also, sometimes I give into my lack of motivation. At times it’s just a matter of my body telling me I need to slow down and decompress.

    Thanks for the reminder, Sage!

    • Sage Grayson on September 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Good point, Jennifer. Feeling unmotivated often means your body and mind need a break. What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes?