Are you thinking, “I have no motivation, so I'm just going to sit here and stare at my phone.”
Does that describe how you feel about getting things done today?
And you'd do just that except for the nagging little voice in your head that keeps telling you to get off your butt and do something productive.
That nagging voice is relentless, but you're oh-so-uninspired and maybe even a bit depressed.
Thank goodness for that inner voice, because without it, you might not be reading this post and wondering how you can get yourself out of the ho-hum slump you're in.
There's a big part of you that's sick of feeling lethargic and uninspired. You want to be motivated and productive. You want to have the energy to work on your goals and plans.
Maybe you're concerned because you have no idea why you can't muster up any enthusiasm and ambition — which makes your state of mind even more upsetting.
Let's take a look at some possible reasons.
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Why do I have no motivation?
Your lack of motivation doesn't mean you're a bad person. It's not an indictment of your character or a life sentence.
You won't feel this way forever, especially if you take some actions to turn it around.
And one of the first actions is seeking to understand why you might be feeling this way. Here are some of the culprits:
Fear of Starting
For most people, low motivation is tied to procrastination. We have trouble starting something and resist it until the project appears overwhelming.
Lack of Skills or Knowledge
If you don't feel fully prepared with the necessary skills or information to complete a project or goal, you'll likely lose your desire to work on it.
You feel overwhelmed with everything on your plate and all of the responsibilities and obligations you're dealing with.
Boredom or Dissatisfaction
You are completely disinterested or unhappy in your work or what you have going on in your life. It doesn't bring you any joy or satisfaction.
Lack of Purpose
You feel that your work or life doesn't have any meaning or offer fulfillment. It seems superficial and without purpose or passion.
Low Self-Esteem or Self-Confidence
You don't feel good about yourself or your abilities and fear setting yourself up for disappointment, embarrassment, or guilt.
Depression and Motivation
These two often go hand-in-hand. If you have the former, you'll be lacking in the latter.
If you are clinically depressed, this mental illness saps your physical and emotional energy and makes it nearly impossible to feel motivated.
If you have a physical illness, or you're just getting over one, your energy is low and you're just not up to being your usual productive self.
Do any of these reasons resonate with you?
Maybe several of them ring a bell, and you see clearly why you have no desire to do anything. But even if the reason isn't obvious, you can still take action to find motivation.
No Motivation to Do Anything?
Pick one of these 10 actions to turn yourself from depressed to motivated.
1. Treat your depression or physical illness.
If you recognize the signs of depression, and you've had them for several weeks, it's time for a visit to your doctor. You'll be fighting an uphill battle trying to be productive and energetic if you're depressed.
Get the treatment you need, which may be a combination of meditation and talk therapy, so that your desire to engage in life returns.
In the meantime, try to accomplish small goals that are manageable while you're feeling bad.
Small achievements make you feel better about yourself and improve your self-esteem even as you're waiting for ambition to return.
If you're sick with a cold, flu, or other illness, be patient with yourself. Don't push yourself too hard to be productive while you're ill.
Practice self-care and get well, and more than likely, your motivation will return.
2. Find out what's stressing you and do something about it.
If stress is the cause of your low energy and lack of desire to do anything, analyze the source of the stress.
Have you taken on too much? Are you going through a difficult life event? Are you overwhelming yourself with information overload?
Be honest with yourself about your stressors, and even if it's uncomfortable, try to remove them from your life for the time being.
These stressful events and commitments can sneak up on you, so you must be vigilant about dealing with them so you don't fall into anxiety or depression.
3. Make yourself take the first step.
Procrastination is a motivation killer. Most anything we don't like doing — and even some things we enjoy — appear more difficult and daunting than they really are.
But once you take the first step, the project or action is far more manageable than you feared.
Whatever you are putting off, determine the smallest first action you should take. Then just do that one thing. Once you have that out of the way, the next step will be easy.
4. Buff up your skills.
If you don't feel up to the job, then it's hard to get excited about tackling it. What are you lacking in terms of skills or education that might make you more enthusiastic about your goals?
Don't wait around for motivation to find you. Do something proactive. Take an online course. Find a mentor to guide you. Go back to school if you need to.
The more of an expert you become, the more interesting and exciting your work or goal will be. You will also feel more confident about your abilities which increases your initiative.
5. Seek out your purpose or passion.
If you are bored and dissatisfied with your life, it's hard to feel motivated. Hating your job or thinking your life is meaningless can be soul-crushing and lead to apathy.
Make it your mission to find something that feels purposeful to you and focus your time and energy on that for a while. Feeling like you are making a difference somehow can be highly motivating.
Better yet, couple that sense of purpose with an interest or goal you're passionate about. Having passion is like pouring gasoline on the flames of motivation. You'll wake up every morning feeling like a kid with a new bicycle!
6. Set goals and visualize every detail of them.
If you don't have something you are working toward, you obviously can't be motivated to work. Create manageable goals that excite and engage you. Start with a small goal so you have a quick win that stokes your enthusiasm.
Then you need to sit down and think through every minute detail of your goal. If your goal is to write a novel, visualize every scene and every character until you are drawn into that world, making it that much easier to sit down at the keyboard and start writing.
Seeing the detailed end product in your mind helps you stay motivated, but only having a vague hope of what you want to achieve can be discouraging.
7. Write down the reasons for your goals.
When you set a new goal or begin a habit, engage with it by writing down why you want to complete that particular goal or habit.
If you want to pursue a promotion at work, for example, writing down the benefits and reasons why you want it helps your brain process the goal and keeps you on track.
When you create something tangible like a written list, it provides another mental cue reinforcing your actions toward making the goal real.
8. Set targets and rewards.
It’s bribery, but it works. Setting short-term goals (targets) within your longer-term goals helps you feel like you are accomplishing something, while rewards give you something to look forward to even before you reach your final goal.
Breaking large tasks into smaller ones helps keep you from getting overwhelmed.
Allowing yourself the pleasure of a bowl of ice cream after you’ve finished each chapter in your report, or a special outing with friends after completing a fitness milestone, helps you stay motivated for the long haul.
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9. Strategize but remain flexible.
When embarking on a new goal, plan how you will attack it. Thinking through your plan not only gives you the opportunity to set up the best conditions for success, but also allows you to look at alternate strategies if you encounter difficulties.
Don’t stress if your first try fails. If you don’t succeed on the first shot, change your plan to work around the problems that stopped you the first time.
10. Plan for obstacles and exhaustion.
Most everyone gets discouraged along the way, and it will likely happen to you. Plan in advance about what you will do when obstacles arise and your motivation starts to flag.
- You could reread your list of reasons for why you are chasing this dream.
- You might brainstorm a new, more interesting way to proceed with your goal to reenergize you.
- You could call your accountability partner and hash it out.
Depending on the type of goal, create a plan of action for reengaging with enthusiasm and enjoyment as you work toward your goal.
Taking action on your lack of motivation.
If you can't seem to find the initiative or drive to do anything, don't take it sitting down (pun intended!).
- Determine what the cause of your low motivation might be.
- Address the cause if you can (especially stress, depression, or illness).
- Take one small action to get the ball rolling.
- Try to find something that makes you feel purposeful or passionate.
- Set manageable goals and act on them.
- Remember that setbacks are normal. Keep going.
Don’t give up. Motivation is a hard habit to sustain, but it is well worth strengthening your motivation muscle to empower you for success with all of your goals and habits.