How To Get Back On track When You Lose Motivation | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 084

How To Get Back On track When You Lose Motivation | Dean Pohlman | Better Man Podcast Ep. 084

What do you do when you’re stuck in a rut and your motivation is running out? 

If your first reaction is to berate yourself out of it or deny that it’s happening—a problem men in particular struggle with—then, well, you can actually prolong the rut you’re in. 

I’ve experienced this myself. And I’ve also found a better, more productive way to handle a lack of motivation: 

In today’s episode, I’m sharing the set of strategies I use to pull myself out of a rut, so you can try them whenever your motivation is running out. 

In this episode, I discuss: 

  • How to jumpstart your motivation when it’s running out
  • The biggest mistake you can make after losing motivation
  • My two-step process for getting back on track when you’re in a rut 

The Better Man Podcast is an exploration of our health and well-being outside of our physical fitness, exploring and redefining what it means to be better as a man; being the best version of ourselves we can be, while adopting a more comprehensive understanding of our total health and wellness. I hope it inspires you to be better!

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Episode 084 Highlights

  • The “Body Awareness” method for dissolving stress and overwhelm when you’re in a rut (1:47) 
  • 3 simple questions to ask yourself when you’re down that can provide clarity into your emotions (3:34) 
  • Why being too tough on yourself when you’re stuck in a rut backfires (7:59) 
  • How acknowledging bad feelings and negative emotions can sometimes be all you need to move past them (7:59) 
  • How holding things in drains your energy and zaps your motivation (12:04) 
  • Why low-energy activities “prime” your motivation tank and restore it (15:35) 
Episode 084: How To Get Back On track When You Lose Motivation - Dean Pohlman - Transcript

Dean Pohlman: Hey guys, it’s Dean. Welcome to the Better Man podcast. Today is a solo episode. I’m your host, Dean Coleman, and I’m going to be talking about how to get back on track. When you lose motivation, when you feel like you’re just stuck or when you’re in a rut. There’s a lot of different phrases to express this, but I’m going to talk about my personal strategies for getting out of a rut, for getting back on track.

Dean Pohlman: So there’s there’s two parts to this solo podcast. First, I’m going to talk about what you can do to just kind of recognize what’s going on. Give yourself some grace to the situation and put yourself in a place where you’re ready to get out of it. You can’t just move out of it without acknowledging what’s going on. I’m going to give you some strategies that I utilize to help with that.

Dean Pohlman: And then after that, I’m going to help you make a plan that’s manageable and help you make a plan that you feel good about doing, that you feel realistic about. And that’s going to help you move out of where you are and get back into the place that you want to be. All right. So let’s start with the first part of this, which is kind of just recognizing where you are and taking account of what’s been going on and maybe acknowledging or experiencing the things that you’ve been putting off.

Dean Pohlman: So the way that I do that is to just check in with myself. So I’ll sit down, all listen to my body. I will try and assign a sort of a feeling to the different discomforts in my body. This is just one way to do it, just a body awareness style. So I kind of just sit down in the place where I like to think and ponder things, which for me is my back patio.

Dean Pohlman: And I sit there in a comfortable position. Sometimes it’s cross-legged, sometimes it’s just sitting down like a like a normal person. And then I just pay attention to the sensations usually in my head and my shoulders and my neck. And I try to identify what those feelings are. If it’s the feeling of, I’m not doing enough, I’m not being productive, I try to check in with that.

Dean Pohlman: Maybe it’s this feeling of shame and maybe I just feel like I should be doing better than I’m doing right now. Maybe it’s stress in relationships. Maybe I am not expressing myself the way that I want to express myself to my wife or or I’m I’m not happy with the current relationship that I have with maybe, maybe my son.

Dean Pohlman: Maybe I’ve been losing my temper with him or, you know, so I’ll just I’ll just check in and feel what’s going on in my body and try to feel what those emotions are from there. So that’s a really good thing to check in with. Another thing that you can do is just take stock of how your life has been going.

Dean Pohlman: Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Are you are you sick? You know, so like this past weekend, I was feeling pretty down. I was feeling honestly, I was feeling kind of hopeless. I was feeling like I just had not much to look forward to. And then the next day, after acknowledging that to myself, the next day, I checked the the Allergan report in Austin, and it turns out that Cedar was really high.

Dean Pohlman: And for me, cedar causes low grade fevers and cold symptoms. So it makes sense that I didn’t feel great because I was actually sick. So it’s a good idea to just check in with yourself physically and see what’s going on. Check in with your lifestyle. Have you been eating well? Have you been, you know, have you been exercising?

Dean Pohlman: You’ve been getting outside this these are all things that can be helpful to just acknowledging where you are. Another thing that I like doing is to journal about things and to figure out where is there resistance in my life? What are the things that I’m not acknowledging. So I talk about that a little bit, but taking that into a journal and actually writing it out and being able to sit with those words and even review those words, after all, after after you’re done writing them down to see, this is how I’m really feeling and not think about what you’re writing down.

Dean Pohlman: This is only for you. You’re not going to publish this on social media. You’re not going to publish this in a blog. You’re not going to put this into a podcast. Ironically, I’m saying all of these things and then putting them into a podcast. But there are things that I don’t share that I there are things that I don’t share that I make for myself sometimes I make things and I and I, I kind of adapt them to a content, but a piece of content.

Dean Pohlman: But for me, when I do this, the, the goal, the purpose is to, is to check in with myself. It’s for me. And if it works for somebody else too, then great, I can create that in a way that it seems relatable. But the point is I am journaling for myself to check in with myself, to acknowledge what’s going on, and then maybe to look back over it and see, wow, I just wrote, I feel hopeless.

Dean Pohlman: That’s pretty. That’s that’s a pretty big deal. Let me let me let me dig into that a little bit more. And the funny thing about that is sometimes you just need to acknowledge the feeling in order to move past it. And it helps to. It doesn’t mean that you have to do something about it, doesn’t mean that you fixed it.

Dean Pohlman: Sometimes just experiencing it and feeling it is enough, but you actually have to experience it. You can’t keep putting it off. You have to sit with the feeling. You have to sit with that discomfort, whatever, whatever expression your body brings up from it. Maybe you want to cry when you experience. Maybe it just makes you really mad. Maybe you feel this deep sense of shame, but the point is to experience it, and journaling can help you with doing that.

Dean Pohlman: And the next part of this is for me, some something is is creating space. So how can you create space in this in order to do all of what I’m talking about, in order to check in with yourself? This is for me. I kind of came up I don’t know if you might have heard the solo podcast. I did, but I wanted a solo.

Dean Pohlman: I went on a solo retreat and I came up with six values from that experience. And one of them is creating space. And it’s this idea of creating. When I say creating space, I mean I basically mean doing less. I mean filling my life with less. It means creating more space between activities. So I’m not trying to cram everything together.

Dean Pohlman: It also means just doing less in general. And if I feel like it’s something that’s going to that’s that I’m not excited about or something that’s going to just take my workload higher than I want it to be and make me feel uncomfortable, then it’s something that I will choose not to do. So by you creating space, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to step back from things that might be draining your energy and to focus on the things that that are important to you and that you do want to keep doing.

Dean Pohlman: And you can’t add on if you already are doing too much. So the one big reason why I will create space here is if you’re not feeling motivated, if you’re stuck in a rut, it could be that you just have too much on your plate right now and you feel overwhelmed by it all. That’s something else. When you’re checking in with your self and trying to create empathy for yourself in this situation is to acknowledge that feeling of being overwhelmed.

Dean Pohlman: You know, it’s it’s not it’s not considered super masculine to feel overwhelmed, but it is something that I think most men experience. It’s something that I certainly experience and it’s normal. So check in with that feeling of feeling overwhelmed. Recognize, well, I do feel overwhelmed. Experience that and then then we’re after we experience it, we’re going to do something about it.

Dean Pohlman: We’re going to think, okay, well, why am I feeling overwhelmed? What all do I have on my plate right now? How can I reduce the obligations of the responsibilities that I have? So that’s a that’s I like this concept of creating space. And again, that’s something that’s been important to me, especially since my solo retreat at the end of 2023.

Dean Pohlman: Another thing I wrote down is you need to stop distracting yourself with external influences or mind numbing activities so you can’t check in with yourself If you are reading a book, If you’re listening to a motivational podcast like this one, or if you’re watching TV or doing something, you know, mind numbing, you have to check in with yourself.

Dean Pohlman: And you might be someone who has a maybe, maybe just genetically or maybe just on a on a, on a if your baseline your baseline thought that you tend to have could be more negative. So in that case, it could be helpful to go for a walk or to, you know, or do some yoga or do something that’s going to help put you in a better space to acknowledge those feelings.

Dean Pohlman: So that could be something that I would recommend doing. But ultimately, you have to be able to check in with yourself and listening to somebody else talk or or doing some sort of mind numbing activity that just switches your brain off but doesn’t actually solve the things isn’t going to help you. So ultimately do have to check in with your self and listening to your body is one way to do that.

Dean Pohlman: And journaling is one way to do that. Just taking stock of what’s going on, acknowledging that you feel overwhelmed, acknowledge those things that that you’ve been putting off can be part of this. And then also identify this is the last part of part one. But I would also identify what are you procrastinating? So there could be something that you’ve been meaning to get done for a long time and you just haven’t done it.

Dean Pohlman: Maybe you feel overwhelmed by a lot of the different tasks in front of you, so figure out what you have then procrastinating, because that will give you a sense of if you procrastinating, something that’s going to come with the sense of shame that’s going to it’s it’s not going to feel great. So identify what you’re procrastinating, write those things out, and we’ll come back to that in part two.

Dean Pohlman: But it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re procrastinating so that we can address it in another. So the last thing I’ll talk about in this, but a concept that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is this kind of this concept of free flowing energy and repressing things. So for me, I realized that I was holding in a lot of things at the end of 23 and in the last week, I’m happy to say that I’ve made a lot of progress with that.

Dean Pohlman: I have been courageously practicing authenticity. That’s one of my values. So instead of holding things in, I say, What’s going on? And for me that meant having a conversation with my wife and saying like, Yeah, I just feel hopeless right now. I just feel like I don’t have anything to look forward to. And that made her sad. But I also, by expressing that I was able to move through it and I felt a lot better the next day.

Dean Pohlman: I also had, you know, less cold symptoms, so that helped. But by expressing it, I was able to move through it. So energy. So if you’re holding on to things, if you’re not expressing things, that energy gets stuck in you. That’s how I’ve been thinking about this. So if you don’t express the things, if you don’t, if you hold things in, that energy is going to get stale.

Dean Pohlman: It’s going to not feel great. It’s going to have a negative impact on you. It’s going to prevent you from expressing energy in the other things that you like doing. Maybe, maybe you like exercising, maybe you like journaling, maybe you like working. But if you aren’t expressing that energy, if you aren’t getting that energy out that needs to get out, then it’s going to pull.

Dean Pohlman: It’s going to draw on your energy for other things, even if you like doing that. So something I’ve been thinking about at least. All right, let’s move on to part two. So now we want to figure out how to get out of this. We’ve checked in with ourself. We figure it out. Okay. Here are the feelings that I’ve been putting off.

Dean Pohlman: I’ve created space for myself so that I can actually check in with myself. Here are the things that I am procrastinating. I have. I’m not. I’m no longer distracting myself with external influences or mind numbing activities. I’ve created some empathy for myself, giving myself some grace too, and giving myself permission to that, to to not be perfect. Right?

Dean Pohlman: That’s a thing. Giving yourself permission to not be perfect all the time. And now we want to move forward. So for me, it’s the first thing that I like to do is get back to the basics. What is working for you? What are the things that you do that help you feel great? So what are those habits that you engage in on a regular basis that help you feel better?

Dean Pohlman: So for me, this is actually one of my values. This the last this is my number seven value added one, but this is my number one. Number seven value, which is to do the things that work. So for me, it’s just a reminder to do the things that work well for me and for me, those things are doing yoga in the morning, doing gratitude practice at night, going for walks throughout the day, lifting weights three times per week, getting good sleep, doing a doing foam, rolling at night to help wind down sleep better, doing stretching at night to help wind down sleep better.

Dean Pohlman: So there are things that just work for me and there are probably things that work well for you. And this is a good time to remember what those things are and get back to the basics. Do those things, start doing them on a regular basis again and it doesn’t always work right away. Sometimes it takes a few days for you to sometimes it takes a few days for these habits to start working and for you to start feeling better.

Dean Pohlman: But you should know at this point of your life what are the things that work well for you and make a plan to start doing those now? How do you make that plan? You do want to make a plan that’s manageable. You want to be able to look at that plan. You want to be able to visualize it from start to finish.

Dean Pohlman: You want to make sure that you’re doing these activities at a time when you feel motivated to do them. Some of them take more motivation, some of them take less motivation, and sometimes you’re not actually available to do these things. So if you’re planning on doing it at 10 a.m., but you normally have meetings at 10 a.m., then you’re probably not going to do them.

Dean Pohlman: So you want to make sure that you are planning to do these activities in a way that is realistic and manageable. And manageable also means according to your motivation and your energy. So if you’re relying on a big burst of motivation to be able to do these things, that’s the wrong way to do it. Motivation is extremely fickle.

Dean Pohlman: You’re not always going to feel motivated to do something, so you want to make sure that it’s something that you can do when your motivation is low. There are also some strategies that you can use to get yourself into a place where you’re feeling more motivated. Things like going for a walk, doing some low energy activities that can help kind of prime you into a more medium or high level, high level energy activity.

Dean Pohlman: Walking, doing some yoga, just sitting there, breathing for a little bit, creating some space. So those those can be helpful as well. But the bottom line here is you want to make sure that this is manageable and realistic. And then the last thing that I’ve written here is to go back to the things that you realized you were dreading.

Dean Pohlman: So at the end of Part one, I talked about this idea of, you know, procrastination, putting things off. So go back to those things. And first off, we want to figure out, are these things actually absolutely necessary? Do we have to be doing things, these things? And for most of us, we’re going to have things that we have to do, things that we just don’t have an option to do not do.

Dean Pohlman: So we’re those are going to have to stay on our to do list. But there could be things on there that we’re doing that we really don’t need to be doing. Maybe we’re doing them because somebody else wants us to do them. Maybe we’re doing them because we think it’s good for us, but we really don’t enjoy it.

Dean Pohlman: So those are things that we can maybe take off the list and with the things that are remaining on the list, we can break those things down into smaller, more manageable tasks. We can break them down into a single, very clear action. So instead of, you know, for me right now, I’m just I’m just looking at my to do list.

Dean Pohlman: I’m planning a workshop in London. My wife and I are traveling to London for a week in in May. And she suggested because we have a pretty large membership base in London, that I do a workshop while I’m there. So I’ve been for the last week and over the weekend I’ve been kind of dreading the whole thing because I just haven’t been doing as much as I want to do with that.

Dean Pohlman: So yesterday I went through like, okay, what do I actually need to do this? And I realized I just need to write the description and then I need to book the venue and then I’m good, right? So I broke those down into simple task instead of looking at it and saying, saying, Do London workshop, I broke it down into task, which was write a description and then book a venue.

Dean Pohlman: So I had been doing a lot of this already. I’ve been doing the groundwork for this. I had been doing research on venues I had been looking for. I’ve been writing up the description for it already, but I wanted to put some more, put some final touches on it. So I went back and I looked at the description.

Dean Pohlman: I had realized it was pretty good. And then I made some, made some edits and got that done. And then I booked the venue and now and now I’m good, right? So and also I don’t I talked about this in previous podcasts and I’ve talked about this. This is something that I was going through a lot of at the at the at the last half of 2023.

Dean Pohlman: But part of this is just recognizing the process of getting things done, the process of being in the work without experiencing the results yet, and remembering that you’ve been here before and that there is the light at the end of the tunnel, or you you’re you have faith that you’re going to finish what you’re doing and that it is going to get done.

Dean Pohlman: But at the current point, you’re at this just it’s just the work and you don’t see the results yet. So recognizing that you are in that place, having faith that you are doing the things to move toward where you want to go, but just recognizing, okay, but this is where I am right now. I’m not experiencing the results of my work yet, but I know that it’s coming.

Dean Pohlman: Having faith in that process can help tremendously. So motivation is something that you always need to come back to you. It’s a great way I actually look at it as an opportunity. I look at most problems as opportunities. Even if it’s an injury. I look at it as an opportunity. But when you lack motivation, it’s a good indication that something is holding you back.

Dean Pohlman: So I saw some people commenting in our Facebook group saying like, Hey, is there like a workout that I can do to jumpstart my motivation? No, there’s not a workout that you can do to jumpstart your motivation. Motivation is much more of a process of identifying what’s holding you back and giving yourself a plan that you feel manageable to create some level of confidence in your ability to follow the plan and move toward your goals.

Dean Pohlman: So but the first part of that is to instead of attempting to do more to realize what’s holding you back, to realize what you’ve been putting off, to experience that, to take things off your plate. And now we’re in a much better place to be able to move forward. So I think that’s a big mistake that people make, which is just adding more and more, adding more strategies, adding more tools, adding more things, adding more habits without looking at their lives and saying, I need to take things away in order to make this work.

Dean Pohlman: You have limited willpower. I’ve said this a lot and I’ll say it again. Think of all the things that you already have to do in a day. Most of us I there are very few of us who would consider themselves to be not busy people. Most of us are doing way too much already. So if we think we want to add on something to what we’re already doing and you consider that most of us are already at our max when it comes to our willpower throughout the day, it’s going to be very difficult if not impossible, to add new stuff to it.

Dean Pohlman: So the most realistic solution is to start taking things away before adding them on. So. All right, guys, hope you enjoyed this all part podcast. I hope you got something out of it. This is a set of strategies that you can use to come back to whenever you feel like your motivation is is not running out. This is not the authoritative list on motivation.

Dean Pohlman: These are just the strategies that I personally use that I have found helpful in my own life through repetition and practice. So I hope that you can utilize them as well. That’s all I got for you today. Thanks, guys. You’re listening to the best of our podcast. If you haven’t already, please consider leaving a review on Apple podcast or on Spotify or Stitcher or wherever podcast are.

Dean Pohlman: And then if you haven’t already gotten started with mental yoga, I do have a free seven day challenge to make that easy. You can learn more at man flow yoga dot com slash seven D No credit card required on that. That is my beginner’s yoga for men Challenge 15 minute workouts, seven total workouts. Great way to get into yoga with a focus on functional fitness for men who aren’t flexible.

Dean Pohlman: All right guys, I’ll see you on the next episode. Thanks for listening.


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Tired of doing a form of yoga that causes more injuries than it helps prevent? The cold, hard truth is men need yoga specifically designed for them. Well, here’s some good news: You can start your 7-day free trial to Man Flow Yoga by visiting https://ManFlowYoga.com/join.

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