10 Steps To Start Kicking Ass Again When You’re Feeling Totally Unmotivated


I recently received this letter from Pia, a reader of my blog. Rather than replying directly, however, I’ve decided (with her permission) to publish her email and share my response publicly. Why? Because we all get stuck in a rut sometimes, whether it’s in work, life, or otherwise. From someone who’s been there, here’s how to slowly but surely start loving your life again.

Hi Bianca,

I read your inspiring post “Feeling Helpless…” and decided to write you a message.

I am a 33 year-old girl from Brazil who has lived in London for 6 years. I love this city and my personal life, but I am unsatisfied with my career as marketing executive for a hedge fund publishing company, and I feel pretty hopeless sometimes.

However, a few months ago I decided to make a few changes in my life. First, I signed up for a course in nutrition and realized that I can’t spent another two years working in a corporate environment and being stuck in an office for the rest of my life.

I used to consider myself a creative person. I studied journalism with the intention of writing about culture and literature and fiction. I used to dream about stories…I even wrote a book for YA. But I lost all that passion. and am not too sure how to reinstate the same feeling in my heart.

I feel inadequate and useless, so I can’t contribute with any ideas to the meetings and activities at work. I tend to blame myself for that all the time, but I am starting to realize that the reason I am not creative enough at work is not because I am stupid — it’s simply because I don’t enjoy what I do.

I want to change, but I am too scared — do you ever feel the same? I have decided to make some changes anyway. So, alongside with the course, I am volunteering and practicing yoga every week. I am in love more and more with health, nutrition, writing, meditation and yoga and would love to change my career to something related to one of those things. I am just too scared to make this change happen… 

Would you recommend something to help achieve my goals and make this change happen?

Today you seeded some hope inside me.  For your words of wisdom, thank you.


Oh, Pia.

I have been there. Here’s what to do:

1. Repeat after me: Your life isn’t bad, you’re just bored. A terrible day doesn’t mean a terrible life. An uninspiring job doesn’t mean everything else is hopeless. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

2. Read an inspiring book, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. This book changed my life. When I read it, I hadn’t written a word for eight years. Like you, I had lost my voice, and I had no idea how to get it back. But Big Magic gave me the courage to start again. It taught me that being creatively fearful is not only okay, but often advantageous. Read it. Everyone should read it. I promise you won’t regret it.

3. Start a side hustle that’s good for your soul. You say you love yoga. Great! Start a blog about what it’s like to be a beginner. Start taking transcendental meditation classes. Start teaching yoga to your friends via Skype (I’m serious). Just start. Small at first, and take it one tiny step a day. Having a creative outlet that’s entirely your own, with no external pressure, is so important.

4. Reclaim your commute and lunch break. Shift the focus away from your mundane day job, and on to your extra-curricular activities. Tuesday, for example, doesn’t have to just be another boring day in the office. Feed your mind with inspiring books and podcasts on your morning commute. Be conscious about how you spend your lunch breaks, too. Instead of getting the same old lunch at the same old place, take a full hour to walk, write and see where your brain takes you. Don’t count the hours — make the hours count.

5. Accept that circumstances change, and so do you. Instead of searching for your old self, focus on the next season of your life. Like autumn, there’s beauty in renewal. Parts of you may wither and die, but in doing so, they make way for more beautiful things to grow and take shape. Accept the person you once were, wish her well (hell, mourn her if you have to!), and move on. Trust me. You’re evolving and changing every day without even realizing it. Embrace the change.

6. Chase your curiosity. Immerse yourself in whatever it is that interests you that week. The beauty of living in a big city like London is that there are a bunch of free events you can go to. Fill your calendar with them (EventBrite is a great place to start). Having things to look forward to is essential.

7. Focus on the process, not the end goal. Take it from high-performance athletes: the key to feeling motivated and getting yourself out of a rut is focusing on the process, not the end goal. Too many goals and expectations make you miserable. Focusing on the process of improving your life, one step at a time, will make you feel much more motivated.

8. Change your job. ASAP. The reason you’re unable to contribute isn’t because you’re not capable. You’re more than capable. But you are in the wrong job and in the wrong environment. After all, inspiration and ideas don’t appear in places that don’t deserve them. My advice? Leave, as soon as it makes sense financially and you have your next move mapped out. Start making steps towards the life you want, even if it’s simply getting another job that’s slightly more aligned with your core values. It won’t be without sacrifice. It won’t be without having to save some money. It won’t be without uncertainty. But it will work out.

9. Know that motivation ebbs and flows. Sometimes you’re going to feel determined, and other times you won’t. It happens to all of us, and when it does, get out of the house and out of your mind. Go for a walk. Ask for help. Know you’re not alone.

10. Be kind, be easy, and take your time. You are coming home to yourself.

Bianca is a writer sharing honest musings on careers, creativity, money and more. She has interned at Vogue, consulted some of the biggest names in branding and e-commerce and currently leads the copywriting team at TripAdvisor. Follow her via her blog and on Twitter.

Image via Unsplash


  • Summer

    Just chiming in with agreement for Big Magic. It’s really, really good. I keep meaning to re-read it and this was a good reminder to do exactly that.

    • Holly Trantham

      Yes! The cover alone makes me v happy.

    • Violaine

      Oh I loved this book as well. Elizabeth Gilbert is fantastic. I need to re-read it as well.

  • Samantha D

    I’m sure the side hustle advice is here to stay, but I’m going to be Scrooge and say how much I hate it. I feel like it is always a default answer in financial posts- get a side hustle. A lot of the people making those recommendations are freelance writers, who may have more flexible schedules than those of us with full-time jobs (or maybe everyone just has way more energy than me, that’s definitely possible). I work over 40 hours a week and travel for work, there is no way I could do a side hustle and keep my sanity.

    From my personal experience, if yoga makes you happy- do not make it your side hustle! It’s ok to do something because it makes you feel good. If you start thinking about monetizing it, it brings pressure and stress into something you once loved. I thought teaching yoga would be a great extension of my personal practice. Ask any yoga teacher if they practice as much as they’d like- they’ll probably say no. It is certainly not a stress-free no pressure way to make money!

    • Holly Trantham

      I do think side hustles are super helpful for people trying to earn more (myself included!), but that’s a great point — you don’t need to depend on something you love doing to make you money! That’s actually one of the main points covered in Big Magic, too 🙂

    • Jack

      thankyouthankyouthankyou. I had a side hustle for many years and this summer I just decided I WAS OVER IT. Then I felt guilty because of all these blogs being like “you better have 4 streams of income or you will die”.
      I might pick up another one in the future is something piques my interest, but now my “free time” after my full time job is done is spent cooking and yoga-ing which is actually helping my wallet AND my soul.
      Though I do realize I’m incredibly fortunate that I don’t NEED a side hustle.

      • Yes, my ad-hoc approach to the side-hustle biz is definitely made possible by the fact that I don’t strictly need a side hustle to get by. I have friends who don’t have that option and feel super lucky that I can choose if/when I have one.

    • I agree with you! Sometimes it feels like “well, get a side hustle” is touted as the silver bullet, and it’s not always so simple. I also work the standard 9-5 40 hours and that plus exercise, cooking, commuting, does not leave much time for a cafe gig or consistent writing job. As an alternative, I’ve recently started side hustling via Upwork, which had been really great for me so far. The work is all virtual, and I do it on an ad-hoc basis. If I’m feeling like Wonder Woman, I can take on a ton of work in a month, or like this month, with the holidays, a bad cold, and work-work being crazy, I’ve done barely any. Most of what I’m doing on Upwork is stuff in my field that I don’t get a chance to do as much of in my day job as I would like. Would definitely second avoiding monetizing your “fun” activities via a side hustle- it often times makes them less fun!

    • bextannya

      Completely agree! While I would love to be that person who can put aside her social life and her days of rest to get a side hustle and tackle the rest of my debt, the truth is that I know myself and keeping my Saturday and Sundays (and weekday evenings) for myself is more important for my sanity. It’ll take me a little longer to tackle my debt and reach my financial goals, but if that means I’m a happier and calmer person overall, I’ll take it!

      Thanks for your comment, Samantha!

  • Violaine

    Pia, I’m in the same city and the same situation. Sisters!!
    Bianca, thanks for that – I needed to read this, just as much as Pia, and it makes me feel a bit better.

  • nancxpants

    This is so invigorating, especially steps 1 and 7. Thank you for this. (Also, just added Big Magic to my Christmas list haha)