Your lack of motivation isn't unique: Here's how to overcome it

February 9, 2022 - 11 min read

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Understanding how motivation works

Why are you lacking motivation?

How can you get back on track?

FAQs about motivation

Everyone experiences a lack of motivation at some point in their life. Whether you’re having a hard time finding a sense of motivation to do your laundry or work on the business pitch you’ve been thinking of, we all get into slumps. 

But we can all learn to identify what causes a lack of motivation in daily life and how to help ourselves get back on track.

Understanding how motivation works

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You developed strategies to increase your sense of motivation a long time ago. You didn’t even realize it, but they formed at a young age long before you entered the workforce. Here are three examples to reflect on to better understand motivation.

Being motivated by “adults” no longer works when you are one 

Did your parents or teachers yell at you to convince you to complete your daily tasks when you were young? Parents or teachers motivating you by punishing or reprimanding you if you didn’t meet their expectations isn’t sustainable in adulthood. This is extrinsic motivation.

But now that you’re an adult and you can’t get detention or be grounded, nobody is pressuring you the same way. This could be why you’re having a hard time finding motivation.

Being a people-pleaser undermines your motivation

Are you a people pleaser? Do you lack motivation? Little do you know, those things are related. If your motivation only turns on when you’re trying to do something for other people, you won’t have any left for yourself.

Even if you think you’re just a great helper, you’re training yourself to put others before your well-being.

Social media consumes your motivation

As you scroll through posts and posts, your need for self-esteem could be suggesting that you need to be more like people you see online. The images and lives shown are curated and often unrealistic. They may seem unreachable. Rather than motivate you, social media can be demotivating.

Even if you are motivated by what you see, the time lost can still cause you to lose motivation. Also, if you rely on comparison, when you take a break from social media, that motivation could be gone. 

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Why are you lacking motivation?

It’s okay that your previous motivators don’t work for you anymore. This means you’re experiencing some personal development, and that’s good. It’s important to understand that no matter why you’re experiencing low motivation, there will always be strategies and people to help you find motivation again.

A few people more than happy to help are the coaches at BetterUp. We want to be there for you regularly to help your well-being and learn how to unlock your motivation again. To learn more about BetterUp, click here. 

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Everyone experiences a lack of motivation in different ways. What hinders some may not be an issue at all to others. The first step to beating your procrastination is to identify your motivation problems.

Think about which ones apply the most to you. Here are six causes for lack of motivation:

Spreading yourself too thin

Burnout is real. When you have too many things on your to-do list, it doesn’t encourage you to get them done. Your procrastination can stem from feeling overwhelmed with your daily tasks. It doesn’t matter if you’re working from home and think you have plenty of time to hustle; your energy and level of motivation can be exhausted from your couch, just like the office. 

Doubting yourself

When you doubt your abilities, you don’t feel like your completed tasks are done right. It can be a struggle to feel that sense of motivation to get started. Try to tell yourself some positive affirmations to help you get off the right foot. Think about the qualities and characteristics that you love about yourself. Even if it’s not work-related, think about how you deserve to keep trying to achieve your goals.

Mental health issues

Low motivation can be a common symptom of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. You can practice self-help and self-care as much as you can, but you may find that seeking professional help is more helpful for your emotions. Online therapy is beneficial, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just know that you’re not alone, and you have lots of loved ones who want to see you receive the best help.

Lack of commitment

Take a step back and think about how dedicated or passionate you are about your work right now. Do you agree to do these tasks because you feel obligated? Identifying where your to-do list decreases your motivation helps you know where to add some spice. (And by spice, we mean something fun that gives you incentive and energy to complete your tasks).

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Bad attitude

Things don’t always go the way we hoped, but that doesn’t mean you’ll stay in a rut forever. Focusing on bad things deters you from accomplishing tasks, and it can’t control you forever. You can be upset, but a lasting bad attitude will ruin your motivation unless you actively try to change it.

Not being specific enough

You may think you have specific goals in mind, but are they encouraging your motivation levels? Giving yourself clear directions is essential. Without them, vague ideas will fade over time. You can’t just say you want to eat healthier. You need to be specific about what you want to achieve and outline precisely how you’re going to do that.

How can you get back on track?

Now that you know what can cause a lack of motivation, you need to learn techniques to start finding your motivation again. Repeating positive affirmations will only take you so far.

Each tip may not be for you, but try and find at least one that you can start practicing:

  • Listen to podcasts that share positive, encouraging stories.
  • Surround yourself with people in your life who are also working on goals and share progress and challenges.
  • Give yourself incentives or rewards for accomplishing tasks.
  • For every task you do that you don’t like, do something that makes you happy.
  • Break your to-do list into manageable sections.
  • Make your tasks into habits in your daily routine.
  • Get outside for a walk to center your focus.
  • Be kind and compassionate to yourself.
  • Argue the opposite when you think negative thoughts.

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FAQs about motivation

Are you wondering about other common questions people lacking motivation ask?

What’s the importance of having a challenging job to feel motivated?

Without any challenges, you won’t have anything new to work toward. If all of your tasks are easy, you won’t have any incentive to do better. Regularly throwing in a challenge can motivate you to learn something new, sharpen your skills, and try new experiences. 

What things affect my motivation?

Plenty of things can affect your motivation. The weather, people around you, how hungry you are, and more impact your motivation levels. Pinpointing what impacts you the most is challenging, but it can help you get back on track. Next time you lack motivation, pay attention to your surroundings. 

How can I help someone that’s feeling unmotivated?

One of the best things you can do for someone lacking motivation is to support them when and how they need you. If they’re struggling against a mental illness, you can suggest seeking professional help. If they need someone to hold them accountable for their daily tasks, you can do that too. Show up for them in the ways that suit them; everyone’s needs are different.

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Published February 9, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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