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Published on January 16, 2020

7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them)

7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them)

If you’re suffering from a lack of motivation, you’re in luck, because you’re about to learn the 7 major reasons why you’re short on the motivational energy you need to successfully accomplish your goals… And exactly how to fix each of them.

By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll have the knowledge you need to unleash the motivational powerhouse within you.

1. You Don’t Know What You Want

Of all the reasons responsible for why you might be lacking in the motivation department, this first one is by far the most common: Either you don’t know what you want, or there’s a lack of clarity about what you want.

Whenever I do goal-setting workshops with people or with organizations, one of the first questions I ask is, “What do you want?”

You’d be surprised by how many people are unable to give me a compelling response to that question.

In other words: What’s the outcome you’re after? What would it look like if everything were to go exactly as planned or better?

It’s tough to get motivated to do anything at all when we’re unsure about what we’re after in the first place. Conversely, once we take those fuzzy dreams we have and bring them into focus by writing them out as goals, then the motivation will flow naturally.

If you ask a typical sports fanatic about their favorite team, they can give you so many statistics it would make your head spin. They can give you all the details you need to know about a team and its players–from speed to points per game and on and on…

But when someone asks them about the details of their own life–they can barely remember what they had for dinner last night.

And it’s not a matter of intelligence, either.

I believe that most people are about as intelligent as they make up their minds to be. If it were a matter of intelligence, they wouldn’t have such an in-depth understanding of their favorite team’s stats.

It’s not about intelligence. It’s about focus.

If you lack motivation in any area of your life, it’s likely because you haven’t decided in detail what you want in that area. And we can’t focus on something if we don’t know what we’re aiming for..

Solution

The solution to the first reason behind why most people have a lack of motivation is simple. Keep in mind that you can’t hit a target that you cannot see. That said, identify some compelling, exciting goals for yourself in each of the major areas of your life – physical, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc. – and write them down.

You may also want to ask your self these 7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life.

2. You’re Not in Control of Your Physiology

Take a moment to picture in your mind what a person who has a lack of motivation actually looks like, physically.

If a person is unmotivated, how do they stand? How do they sit?

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Do they have good posture or bad posture? Are their shoulders pulled back or are they slumped over forward? Is their back upright or rounded?

Now imagine what a person who’s totally motivated looks like…

How does a person with motivation stand? Close and narrow, or open and upright?

How does a motivated person walk? Head held low, or head held high? Are their shoulders slumped forward, or pulled back nicely as they walk?

How do they sit? How’s their posture? Is their back bent forward, or are they sitting upright?=

How do they speak?

How do they stand?

Hey—what if I told you that you could instantly motivate yourself by mimicking the images of a motivated person that you just pictured in your mind’s eye?

Solution

Motion leads to motivation. If you want to get motivated, learn to control your physiological state. Here’s how:

  • First, figure out what kinds of movements you naturally make when you’re feeling motivated…
  • Then, do those things and your mind will follow your body.

You’ll begin to feel more motivated when you put yourself in a position to actually feel more motivation. Move like you move when you’re motivated. Stand like you stand when you’re motivated.

Here’s my silly—yet incredibly effective—process for using my body to elevate my motivation: Jump in the air. Clap your hands. And yell out, “WHOOOOOO!” at the top of my lungs.

Just try it and see if it doesn’t change your state.

3. You’re Not Aiming High Enough

Whatever we seek to accomplish – writing a book, losing weight, achieving the perfect relationship with our significant others – it’s the degree of desire we have to accomplishing those goals that ends up becoming the crucial element to achieving them.

But too many people try to set limits on their desire. They tell themselves and others that they don’t need wild success. This kind of thinking is dangerous because when we limit the scope of our desire, we limit the scope of what we’re willing to do to reach our goals. And when we limit the scope of what we’re willing to do, we limit the scope of our motivation.

A lack of exciting and desirable easily takes far too many people down the road of lackluster levels of motivation.

If you limit your potential success, you will limit what you are willing to do to create it—which limits your motivation, not to mention your general sense of fulfillment about the life you lead.

The solution to this problem is what’s known as The 10X Rule, which states that:

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You must set targets that are 10 times what you think you want and then do 10 times what you think it will take to accomplish those targets.

While some folks will tell you that setting impossible goals kills motivation, and that it’s better to “underpromise and overdeliver,” this line of thinking is actually foolish.

10X-targets—commonly called “stretch goals“—will only spur you on harder, to do more and try more than you ever have before.[1] Besides, even if we fall short of achieving our 10X-level aims and ambitions, better to fall short of achieving a massive target than merely achieving a tiny one… Because if you aim high enough, you’ll demand more from yourself and become better in pursuit of a massive goal.

But setting a high target is only the first step. The second step is to take 10 times the amount of action you think is necessary to reach that target.

Solution

When we’ve got puny, uninspiring goals, we tend to feel lethargic and unmotivated to achieve them. On the flip side, when we’ve got huge and ambitious goals, we feel empowered and invigorated to take action towards achieving them.

Bottom line? Set massive goals. Take massive action.

Push yourself to your outermost limits. You’ll find that the more action you take, the more motivated you become to continue doing even more.

4. You’re Too Overwhelmed

Have you ever been so stressed, so overwhelmed, under so much pressure – that you’d rather say, “Screw it. I don’t even care,” than to continue marching forward with whatever you’re trying to do?

Whatever the cause, one thing we know about being overwhelmed (or stressed to the gills) is that it can drain motivation, big time.

It’s hard to get motivated when you’re overwhelmed.

Here are a couple of practical solutions to get you back on track…

Solution

Maybe you took that point I made earlier — about aiming higher and 10X-ing your goals to get you motivated — to heart. But maybe you also aimed a little higher than your current capabilities. If that’s the case, lower the bar – bit-by-bit – until you hit your sweet spot (which is somewhere between your current capabilities and a goal that’s just hard enough to achieve that you’ve gotta stretch to achieve it).

Or, maybe you’ve just got way too many things on your plate. If that’s the case, it’s time to pair down and focus on crushing one big goal at a time, rather than trying to do too many things simultaneously. It’s like that old saying,

“If you chase two rabbits, you won’t even catch one.”

5. You’re Prone to Procrastination

Another thing that can cause overwhelm – which leads to a massive depletion of motivation – is when we don’t have enough clarity about what to do next. This ambiguity leads to procrastination. And procrastination leads to a lack of motivation.

Here’s how to fix this one:

Chunk things down to an immediate, doable action.

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Solution

Take whatever it is that you lack the motivation to do, and chunk it down to an immediate, doable next action you can take immediately..

For example, I’m working on putting together a major course right now that’s designed to help people transform their lives in virtually every way possible so that they can improve their lives and achieve their goals. It’s a 30-day life mastery program that shares everything I’ve learned about the subject of Personal Development.

This involves a ton of work on my part: from structuring the curriculum, to putting together worksheets, to recording the audio sessions, to a million things in between.

I was thinking about this workload recently, and I felt incredibly overwhelmed and demotivated because of the sheer volume involved with a project like this. And just as I was about to curl up in the fetal position in the corner of my office, I realized I needed to take my own damn advice and chunk this thing down.

Instead of thinking about everything that needed to get done, I decided to ask myself, what’s “one thing I can do right now to make progress on this goal?” The answer to that, for me, was to write out the outline. Which I did. And the sense of motivation that began to bubble up as I started doing it was remarkable.

So, here’s the key:

If you’re low on motivation, think about whether you need to chunk things down into something doable to move the ball forward. And if that’s the problem, chunk your project (or whatever you’re not motivated about) into something doable–and then do it!

6. You’re Not Being Specific Enough to Spur Motivation

Motivation is like a fickle, fleeting, emotional creature with ADHD. It’s difficult to get it to focus on a single thing for an extended period of time… Unless you provide it with very specific directions.

One reason you might have a lack of motivation is because you’re leaving things too open.

When things are vague, the motivation will fade.

When you’re unable to tap into the motivation you need to succeed, it might be because whatever thing you want to get motivated for is too vague. Here’s a few examples of common goals that are way too vague:

  • Wake up earlier.
  • Exercise more.
  • Eat healthy.

If you were to choose any of the above examples, here’s how things would most likely play out:

You’ll start off with tons of motivation at the very beginning…

But after a little while, you’ll notice that the motivation fades away and loses its potency.

So, what’s the fix?

Solution

Give your brain specific and actionable directions. Doing this will provide it with the controlled focus it needs in order to unleash the motivational energy you’re looking for.

An excellent way to drill down and get specific is to ask yourself questions. Here’s a great one that can narrow things down and, as a result, spark some motivation:

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“How will I know that I’m successful?”

Answer that question with something specific and measurable.

Here’s an example of one of my own answers to this question (along with specific + measurable actions). I wrote these out to help myself regain motivation while working on an article + podcast awhile back:[2]

  • How will I know that I’m successful? I’ll publish an inspiring podcast episode on how to use stretch goals and SMART goals to help my readers and listeners improve their lives and achieve their goals.
  • Specific: Come up with at least 3 examples of pairing stretch goals with SMART goals to help explain the concept; and then draft/outline/record article and episode.
  • Measurable: Reference my previously published articles/podcasts on goal-setting, along with 1–3 reliable books about goals. Then, brainstorm ideas until I settle on three great examples I can utilize to clearly explain this concept.

The more specific you make the actions and habits you need to take up, the smaller they become. And the smaller the action, the easier it is to motivate yourself to do it. Eventually, those small, specific steps you take on a daily basis will stack on top of one another––which leads to a sustained sense of motivation and accomplishment.

7. You’re Seeking Motivation Where You Should Be Seeking Habits

The final reason most people suffer from an ongoing lack of motivation is simply because, at the end of the day, none of us can be motivated all the time. Often times, people say to me, “wow, you’re so motivated.” But here’s the truth: I just *look* like I’m motivated all the time, when in reality I’ve just been diligent about installing several keystone habits in the areas of my life that matter to me most.

You see, I don’t have to muster up the motivation to get up at 5AM every morning and go to the gym, because it’s a habit.

I don’t have to motivate myself to focus on writing on this article right now, because I’ve developed a habit of writing everyday.

I don’t have to motivate myself to do anything that I’ve become habituated to in my life, because habits are things we do regularly and automatically with little or no conscious thought or effort.

So, here’s the real question: How do you develop habits?

Solution

You can cook an egg if you go outside on a sunny day and hold a magnifying glass over it. This is because the magnifying glass harnesses the power of the sun’s rays and puts them towards a singular aim—cooking that egg.

But if you go outside and repeatedly wave the magnifying glass side-to-side over the pan, you’ll never cook that egg. That’s what happens with most people—they’re unable to build habits and maintain the motivation to achieve their goals because they’re outside waving that darn magnifying glass over a pan full of uncooked eggs that they’ll never be able to enjoy.

A better way to approach your goals, and the habits you’ll need in order to achieve them, is to harness all your energy and focus towards approaching each of them one at a time, as follows:

  • Choose your goal: What’s one major, long-term goal you’re absolutely dedicated to achieving over the next 12 months or more?
  • Choose your habit: What’s the ONE new habit you can form, such that by forming it, you can achieve or exceed your goal? Take a moment to figure it out and write it down.
  • Next, learn everything you possibly can about how to do it right. Go deep. For example, one of my major habits is writing. I do it every single day no matter what. Most of what I write, I never publish. And that’s fine with me, because I can’t get the good stuff without cranking out the crappy stuff first. I write every day because my ultimate goal is to continue growing as a writer for the rest of my life. No matter how great I think I might be, there’s always room for improvement.
  • Identify a habit you can do all the time. It needs to be something you can incorporate into your schedule and execute on a daily basis, no matter what. Eventually, it’ll be something you can do easily, without thinking about it or needing to get yourself all motivated. At this point, you’ve got the habit installed, so it requires minimal effort to execute and you can put it on autopilot. And if you want, you can now begin forming another new habit.

Learn more about how to build habits in this article: What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100%

Bottom Line

What’s your cause of lack of motivation? Identify why you feel demotivated and tackle the root cause of your lack of motivation with my above solutions, soon you will find yourself staying motivated even during the most challenging time!

More Motivational Tips

Featured photo credit: Kreated Media via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] MeaningfulHQ: Stretch Goals
[2] Dean Bokhari: Smart Goal + Stretch Goal = Success

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Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

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Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

Reference

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