No Motivation? 7 Ways To Overcome Your Lack Of Motivation

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A guest post by Kayla Matthews

It seems like the only habits that stick are the ones we wish we could break: smoking, checking phones every 27 seconds, or using the words “awesome” or “literally” in every sentence.

Good habits are hard to build and bad habits are hard to break. Make a resolution to eat a good breakfast every morning before you leave for work, and by the end of the week you're back at your favorite coffee shop grabbing a latte and a donut for the commute. You have no motivation to stick to your goals or follow through on the promises you make to yourself.

Setting good goals doesn't absolutely require motivation. You can begin a goal without it, and often motivation will follow. But if you can harness motivation before you begin, you will supercharge your efforts, making it much easier for you to achieve your goal.

What happens when motivation itself isn’t a habit? There isn’t a medication that can be prescribed to help you get motivated. So what do you do? 

If you have no motivation, here are seven ways to overcome your lack of motivation:

1. Visualize Every Detail of Your Goals

Besides the obvious necessity of having a goal to visualize, 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.

guy writing on a notebook lack of motivation


2. 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.

3. Set Targets and Rewards 

It’s bribery, but it works. Setting short-term goals 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.

4. 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.

5. Decide If This Is a Solo Mission 

You’re a smart person. You are good at your job and don’t need other people around to wreck your perfect plan, right? Maybe. Sometimes there are ideas and input you need in order to accomplish your goals that only another person with a specific skill set or personality can provide.

Related: 37 Of The Best Motivational Books To Inspire You

When you are starting out, determine who (if anyone) could best complement your efforts to help you keep your goals on track, even if it is just by listening and holding you accountable to your decisions.

6. Exhaustion’s Setting In, Now What?

Very few people never get discouraged, and it will likely happen to you. Plan in advance what you will do when obstacles arise and your motivation starts to flag. You could reread your list of reasons 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.

woman raising her hands lack of motivation

7. Keep Looking at the Big Picture

Writing down the reasons for your goals once is good, but it may not be enough. You need to continually remind yourself why you are pushing on. Is it to get a raise so that you can buy a bigger house and start a family? Then hold on to that picture. Is it to finally have the satisfaction of seeing your work in print? Visualize what that achievement will look like in the end, not just throughout the process.

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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.

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger with a passion for motivating others and setting lifelong goals. You can find her over at Productivity Theory.

photo credit: iulia.pironea

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 6 comments
  • James Michael Taylor

    The Resistance can be very strong with my writing!

    The best motivation I come back to is my purpose – the reason the work I’m resisting doing is important to me and to those I care about. My readers are good people looking for experienced guidance and powerful encouragement – it’s my pleasure and honor to serve that need, and that’s all the motivation I need to get in front of my keyboard and ‘bang the keys.’

    Thank you for this post and all you do!

      Kayla Matthews

      Great advice, James! Purpose is definitely a huge part of staying motivated, and I’m glad your readers play a huge role in keeping you motivated!

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Remez Sasson

    I have read many articles about motivation, but this article contains truly useful and practical information.

    I would also include affirmations to strengthen motivation, since they can be inspiring, energizing and motivating

    Motivation is important for the carrying out of goals and decisions. I know of many people who start enthusiastically, only to quit a short time later.

    Motivation is like and engine that takes you forward, and should therefore, be cultivated.

      Kayla Matthews

      Thanks so much for your comment, Remez! I definitely agree that affirmations are a great way to improve motivation. =)

  • Lynne

    What drives us to achieve our goals? Motivation does. It is important to be motivated and your advice is spot on. I loved what you said about strategizing but to remain flexible. This has been a stumbling block for me because in the past I stuck to the plan and wasnt open for any changes. We have to be open to change, if a plan is not working out wehave to see what can work and adapt. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lizzie

    Love these tips – all spot on. I think it’s hugely important to set out goals and, once you’ve reached them, to reward yourself to spur yourself on. I know this is one of the best motivations for me, anyway. I published a post on staying motivated whilst writing today and linked over to this post from there – I’m sure it’ll be useful for lots of my readers!

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