Dealing with the Ebbs and Flows of Motivation

Updated: May 13

We all experience ebbs and flows of motivation in our daily lives. If you're unfamiliar with the expression ebb and flow it refers to a recurrent or rhythmical pattern of coming and going or decline and regrowth. It's often used with the idea of motivation because this is one thing that wavers drastically in our lives. Even the best of the best in any field face times when they don't feel like going out and working on their craft. This can also be related to motivation in our hobbies. Some days we just don't feel like doing the stuff we actually enjoy which is crazy to think, but it's just human nature.


Throughout my life I've encountered numerous patterns of ebbs and flows which each cycle varying in duration as well as intensity. The past month I've been in the ebb portion of my personal tide where I didn't want to go run. The past few days I've began transitioning to a period of flow where I'm back to enjoying running which is something I love. In the last month though, if you saw me on the side of the road running down the street I probably looked like I hated life. My body hurt from my recent 100 mile challenge and I didn't want anything to do with running shoes.


This isn't the first time this has happened in my running career, but it's definitely the most intense ebb I have ever experienced. This came as a shock to me and for a period I questioned possibly changing my activity because I was so sick of running. Keep in mind...I created a podcast and blog that has a fairly heavy emphasis on the sport so this was not the typical Tanner!


I continued lacing up my shoes, getting outside, and eventually the switch clicked in my head where I once again began enjoying what I was doing. I went on two runs: One was a trail I hadn't run in a long time and the other trail was completely unique. Exploring the new scenery definitely reminded me why I love running.


It doesn't have to be running, but in the times of COVID-19 the concept of ebbs and flows is even more relatable to everyone than usual because of how much our world has changed. There is so much we can no longer do and this definitely isn't a mood booster. I know the ebbs and flows in my life have intensified substantially since the quarantine began so I imagine a lot of people are feeling the same exact way.


So what should we do when we're experiencing a lack of motivation or desire to do something in our lives?


I can't speak for everyone, but I'll tell you what I do: I continue pushing through the down times because I know each step when I'm feeling discouraged is one step closer to again loving what I am doing. I attempt to remember why I'm doing what I'm doing and this helps defeat the parts of my mind telling me to stay in bed. If you stay in bed it may fulfill that sense of immediate gratification, but in the long run it will do more harm than good. Finally, I maintain a positive mindset. I stay kind to myself and understand that I am not the problem, but this is just a natural ebb we all encounter.


Think of the incoming and outgoing tides. The water drains from the shore, but it will ALWAYS rise again. Keep pushing through the ebbs no matter how difficult they become and you will prosper!


What's your thoughts on ebbs and flows? I'd love to hear! Send me an email or reach out on social media.

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Tanner Kern is a 22 year content creator and endurance athlete from Connecticut. He is the host of The Tanner Kern Podcast and creator of "It's a Process: My Tips for Becoming the Best Version of Yourself."

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