Feeling unmotivated is a common struggle we all face from time to time. Indeed, when we lack motivation, getting started on new projects, meeting deadlines, or even carrying out daily tasks can present a real challenge. This lack of drive can have a negative impact on our work, relationships, and overall wellbeing. However, by recognising when we’re struggling to feel motivated and learning what steps we can take to get ourselves out of this slump we can beat the motivation blues for good.
Let’s Set the Scene: Meet William
William works in London’s Square Mile as a portfolio manager. A powerhouse of his company, he’s known by his team for his relentless drive and unshakable ambition. However, recently he hit a roadblock and he didn’t know why. All he knew is that he was struggling to find the motivation to complete his work – he could feel his energy levels diminishing further every day, and this really worried him.
Recognising the impact his lack of motivation was having on his productivity levels, he sought a solution. After a chat with a friend who he knew had faced similar struggles at university, he realised that he needed to rediscover his ‘why’ in order to reignite his passion for his work – what were his values? What were his goals, and how could he support himself to achieve them?
It took some time, but by stepping back and reflecting on his goals regularly, he felt like he had a clearer sense of purpose that drove him forward. His chat with his friend also made him realise that if he wanted to maintain his motivation levels at work long-term, he needed to look after himself much better, both physically and mentally. Over the last few months he’d developed some unhealthy habits: burning the candle at both ends, grabbing takeaways on his way home from the office, and skipping the gym all-too-often in favour of an evening on the sofa. He realised he had to make some changes – none of this was going to help him feel motivated again.
With these insights and the lifestyle changes he implemented over the next few months, he felt so much better prepared to bring his all to his work and rise to new professional challenges with a renewed sense of determination. He also felt relieved because he now knew that if he ever faced future bouts of self-doubt and low motivation, he was armed with the knowledge to face them head-on and regain his sense of momentum before he (metaphorically) hit a brick wall. He felt more prepared, determined, and like he understood his motivation levels better than he ever had before.
Many of us often find ourselves in William’s shoes. We get so caught up in our endless to-do lists and jam-packed diaries that we forget why we’re doing what we’re doing, and we quickly start feeling unmotivated and uninspired to perform our best. But the truth is, understanding our motivations and what makes us feel motivated is crucial to ensuring our success and happiness – both at work and outside of it.
If we don’t know why we’re doing something, we’re unlikely to feel motivated to do it.
“Motivation is the fuel necessary to keep the human engine running.”
Zig Ziglar (American author)
What is Motivation?
- Motivation is the driving force behind human behaviour and refers to the reason why a person takes a particular action.
- It is the feeling that kick-starts, directs, and sustains goal-oriented behaviours, whether it’s getting fitter or striving for a promotion at work.
- Motivation is responsible for propelling you towards your goals and aspirations. It provides you with the drive and determination needed to overcome obstacles and challenges.
- With a strong sense of motivation, you’re more likely to stay focused, take action to pursue your goals, and persist in the face of setbacks or failures.
Top 7 Causes of Lack of Motivation: Understanding Why We Sometimes Struggle to Stay Motivated
Understanding the various factors that can contribute towards making us feel unmotivated is crucial in enabling us to develop effective strategies to overcome this challenge and achieve our goals in life.
The 7 top causes of a lack of motivation include:
- Lack of clarity: Feeling unmotivated can be frustrating, but have you ever considered that you might not know what you want? Try gaining clarity by setting specific goals you feel excited to work towards.
- Boredom with current goals: Are you bored with your current goals and lacking motivation as a result? Try aiming higher by setting ambitions that force you to push yourself further.
- Procrastination when faced with daunting projects: Do you procrastinate or struggle to find the motivation to tackle big projects? Ask yourself what you can do to make these tasks less daunting – this should make it easier to start on them.
- Negative beliefs and self-talk: It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing yourself as someone who is unmotivated, but what if you reframed the way you look at yourself?
Fake it until you make it! Start thinking of yourself as someone who is actually highly motivated, and see what impact this has on your motivation levels and overall attitude…
- Feeling overwhelmed: Feeling unmotivated often goes hand-in-hand with experiencing overwhelm. To combat this, make lists – focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it well. You can also order your to-do list, prioritising your tasks in order of urgency and importance to ensure you tackle your most pressing projects first.
- Reliance on motivation alone: Instead of relying solely on motivation, try building habits that support your goals. By making positive habits a part of your daily routine, you can sustain your motivation levels over the long term.
- Lack of physical exercise: Are you tired of feeling stuck in a motivation slump? Do some exercise to energise your body and kick-start your mind into action.
8 Tips to Fight Your Lack of Motivation
Everyone gets their motivation from different places, and everyone’s motivation levels fluctuate for different reasons! This means that when trying to find motivation, what works for one person might not work for another. Therefore, it’s important to experiment to find out what works best for you.
These 8 tips can help you combat your lack of motivation:
- Break tasks into manageable chunks: To complete a project efficiently, focus on individual tasks and break them down into manageable chunks. This approach can help you stay present and stop you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of having to complete an entire project. If you take things one step at a time, you’ll find it much easier to tackle a project which initially daunted you.
2. Write down every good thing that happens to you throughout the day: It can be motivating to write down positive experiences when you’re feeling challenged. This list can serve as a reminder of memorable moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’re not succeeding or progressing.
3. Use the 10-minute rule: To overcome dread and conquer your lack of motivation, prove to yourself that the task you’re struggling with isn’t as bad as you think or that you can tolerate it better than you envision. To do this, try the 10-minute rule. This exercise aims to help you get started on a task by permitting yourself to move on to something else if you feel like you’re not getting anywhere after 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, ask yourself whether you want to keep going or stop. The idea is that once you get started on a task and complete the first 10 minutes, it’s much easier to keep going and achieve a sense of momentum. This increases your motivation to continue (and gets over the hurdle of starting work on a task, which can be the hardest bit!).
4. Have some ‘me time’: Making time for activities that bring you joy and pleasure, such as reading, playing a sport, or listening to music, is essential for maintaining good mental health and finding inspiration. By engaging in activities that we love, we can reduce stress, improve our moods, and foster a sense of fulfilment in our daily lives, which can positively impact our motivation levels.
5. Be gentle with yourself: Show yourself some compassion. If you’re struggling to feel motivated, you should try to acknowledge and accept your feelings and reach out for help if you need it. This can help you find your stride again. You should also remember that it’s natural to need breaks – prioritise self-care to avoid burnout and maintain a positive outlook even when challenged.
6. Try to be present: Focusing on the present moment can help you stay focused and engaged whilst trying to complete a task you’re struggling to get going with. Being present can also help reduce the amount of time you spend dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future outcomes. This can help you feel less stressed and anxious in the long term.
7. Give yourself credit for small wins: Praising yourself for every task you manage to complete on your to-do list can give you a sense of achievement that positively impacts your motivation levels. We often only remember to celebrate big successes in our lives, but acknowledging and rewarding ourselves for small wins can help us feel more positive and motivated to reach bigger goals. This will help you to develop an outlook centred around progress and accomplishments rather than shortcomings.
8. Harness the influence of others: As social beings, our motivation levels can be impacted by the behaviour and attitudes of those around us. To stay motivated, you should try your best to surround yourself with enthusiastic and optimistic friends, family members, and colleagues. Additionally, if you’re really struggling, discussing your emotions and seeking guidance from a professional (e.g., a therapist or counsellor) can give you valuable insight and understanding of your situation, helping you to overcome any obstacles in your way.
For some of us motivation comes naturally, but for others, finding motivation requires patience, effort, and persistence. It’s a continuous effort – no one-time fix will guarantee you feel extremely motivated forever. It’s also normal for your motivation levels to fluctuate day to day and week to week.
Some people are naturally blessed with high levels of motivation that power them through the working week. However, if you struggle with your motivation levels, you’re not alone. Try incorporating our motivation-boosting strategies and tips into your daily life, and you’ll quickly power up your productivity levels and develop long-lasting habits that’ll keep you motivated in the long term. Remember: there’s always a way around a motivation slump!
- Kendra Cherry, What is Motivation?, Very Well Mind.
- Ayelet Fishbach, How to Keep Working When You’re Just Not Feeling It, Harvard Business Review.
- Amy Morin, What to Do When You Have No Motivation, Very Well Mind.
- What advice would you give to someone lacking in motivation?, Mental Health Foundation.
- Dean Bokhari, 8 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them), Dean Bokhari.
- Dan Cable, Why People Lose Motivation — and What Managers Can Do to Help, Harvard Business Review.
- Quotes on Motivation, Good Reads.
- Vartika Kashyap, The Inspirational Story of JK Rowling., BBN Times.
- Re-Energise Challenge- www.lloydswellbeingcentre.co.uk/nutrition/re-energise-challenge/
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