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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

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

7 Things That Cause a Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them)
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If a lack of motivation is affecting your life, 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.

A lack of motivation can cause many problems for each of us. We may have trouble getting projects done, keeping our house clean, or giving the necessary energy to a new relationship. When we don’t have the motivation to improve our lives, we may find our overall well-being takes a hit.

Fortunately, by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll have the knowledge you need to unleash the motivational powerhouse within you. Here are the main causes of a lack of motivation.

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, etc.

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. 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

If you’re experiencing a lack of motivation, keep in mind that you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. 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.

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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?

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?

Do they walk with their head held low, or head held high? Are their shoulders slumped forward, or pulled back nicely as they walk?

Is their back bent forward, or are they sitting upright?

What if I told you that you could instantly motivate yourself by mimicking the body language 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.

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, which can cause a lack of motivation. 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 goals easily takes far too many people down the road of lackluster levels of motivation.

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

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.

10X-targets—commonly called “stretch goals“—will spur you on 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.

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.

The solution: 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 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 feeling overwhelmed (or stressed to the gills) is that it can drain motivation, big time.

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 have to stretch a bit 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 pare 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 lack 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.

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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 personal development course right now that’s designed to help people transform their lives. 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 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 the outline, which I did. And the sense of motivation that began to bubble up as I started doing it was remarkable.[2].

Procrastination and action

    6. You’re Not Being Specific Enough

    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, you may experience a lack of motivation.

    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. For example:

    • 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.

    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:

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

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    Answer that question with something specific and measurable.

    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.

    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 every day.

    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 to achieve or exceed your goal?
    • Next, learn everything you possibly can about how to do it right. Go deep.
    • 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.

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

    The Bottom Line

    What’s causing your lack of motivation? Overcoming a lack of motivation involves identifying why you feel unmotivated and tackling the root cause with the solutions above. Soon, you will find yourself staying motivated and feeling good even during the most challenging times.

    More Motivational Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kreated Media via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Dean Bokhari

    Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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    Last Updated on July 29, 2021

    How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up

    How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up
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    It’s Monday morning. The alarm goes off. Do you know how to get motivated at that moment? What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you open your eyes? 

    Are you excited to get up and go to work, or are you dreading the day and week ahead?

    Whatever your response may be, ask yourself this question:

    “What is it that makes you feel unmotivated?” What’s driving you to feel negative or positive about your Monday ahead? If you want to know how to get motivated, keep reading.

    The Two Types of People

    You likely know of people who have been doing the same thing for years and seem to not have any problem staying stagnant. Whether it be in their marriage, job, or personal endeavors, they seem to be getting along just fine without progressing towards anything “better.”

    On the other hand, I’m sure you also know of individuals who focus on the positive, goals setting and are constantly pushing themselves to greater heights. Be it promotions at work, building a family, celebrating marriage milestones, traveling more, or going to school again, these individuals seem to constantly progress towards something that improves or enhances their life.

    So what’s the difference between these two types of individuals?

    What you feel capable of doing comes down to one thing: motivation. It’s the force, or lack of, that keeps driving you forward to overcome challenges and obstacles to achieve your goals.

    Without motivation, you’ll give up after a few failed attempts, or even on the first tough challenge that comes your way. Or you’ll just remain where you are: unhappy yet not doing anything to progress ahead.

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    What Is Motivation, Really?

    Whether you realize it or not, motivation is a huge force in your life, and it needs to be harnessed in order to excel and actually enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing on a daily basis. If you find yourself thinking, “I need motivation,” there are specific steps you can take.

    Unfortunately, many overgeneralize the word motivation. We think of being either motivated or unmotivated as a simple “yes” or “no” state of being.

    But motivation is not a switch. As discussed in the Fast Track Class – Activate Your Motivation, motivation is a flow. To feel motivated, you need to dive beyond the surface. Just reading a motivational quote, being encouraged by your friends or mentor, or writing out a short to-do list won’t help you build sustainable motivation in the long run.

    You can think of the motivation that we want to achieve like the Sun (self-sustaining and long-lasting), which supplies a constant influx of energy to all life on Earth. Just like the Sun, your “motivation engine” has different layers, starting from the core and spreading out to the surface. The surface is what you see, but the real process is driven from the core (your internal motivation); and that’s the most important part.

    If you can create a self-sustaining motivation engine, you’ll be able to find more meaning in your life and enjoy every minute of what you’re doing, which will make your roles and responsibilities less of a chore. 

    Let me help you understand this motivation flow better by breaking down the motivation engine into 3 parts:

    1. Core – Purpose
    2. Support – Enablers
    3. Surface – Acknowledgement

    The Third Layer: Surface

    The outermost layer, also known as Acknowledgement, encompasses any type of external recognition that might give you motivation. It may come in the form of respect or recognition, such as compliments and praise.

    Or it could be emotional support through encouragement, feedback, and constructive criticism. It could also be affiliation, where you have mutual companions or buddies sharing the same goal or burden with you.

    One recent study pointed out that “rewards had a positive impact on work motivation but no significant relationship existed between reward and job satisfaction”[1].

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    Therefore, it’s important to recognize that rewards will motivate you, but they won’t necessarily make you happier in an undesirable situation.

    This is generally what you see on the surface when you look at other people. You see the external acknowledgement, respect, and recognition they’re getting.

    The Second Layer: Support

    In essence, the second layer of the motivation engine (also known as Enablers) is what supports your goals. They can magnify the motivation core you have, or speed up the momentum that you build. Basically, they create favorable circumstances for things to go smoothly.  

    If you want to know how to find motivation, positive enablers are key. This could include friends and family, or any support network you’ve created in life.

    The Innermost Layer: Core

    But what’s most important, and the true driving force behind your motivation flow, is the innermost core, your Purpose. Your purpose is what differentiates the motivated from the unmotivated, the achievers from the underachievers, the happy from the unhappy.

    Your motivational core is your Purpose, and it is sustained by two things: having meaning, and forward movement. With these two as a foundation, you’ll have a power source that will feed you motivational energy indefinitely.

    If you want to learn more about the Motivation Flow, join our Fast Track Class – Activate Your Motivation for free now!

    How to Sustain Your Purpose

    Having meaning is simple. If you want to learn how to find motivation, just ask yourself a question: Why?

    Why are you pursuing a certain goal? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. While motivation provides you energy to do something, that energy needs to be focused somewhere. So without meaning, there is no direction for your energy to focus.

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    Yet, having a meaningful objective doesn’t mean you have to change the world or have a huge impact on society. The secret to meaningful work is simple: it should contribute value to something or someone that matters to you.

    One study suggested creativity as one possible path to meaning, saying: “Many of the core concepts in work on the meaning of life, such as the needs for coherence, significance, and purpose or the desire for symbolic immortality, can be reached through creative activity”[2].

    Next up is gaining forward movement. In short, this means to just keep moving. Like a snowball, motivation from having progress creates momentum. So to keep this up, you have to keep moving.

    The good news is, your progress doesn’t have to be huge for you to recognize it. Small amounts of progress can be just as motivating, as long as they keep coming. Like driving a car, you may be really impatient if you’re at a complete halt. But, it lessens if you’re moving forward, even if you’re moving slowly.

    Creating a simple progress indicator, like checklists or milestones, is a great way to visualize your small (and big) wins. They trigger your brain to recognize and acknowledge them, giving you small boosts of motivational energy.

    This is why video games are so addictive! They’re full of progress indicators everywhere. Even though the progress is completely virtual, they’re still able to trigger the motivation centers in your brain.

    Find out What Drives You Today

    Why not take some time today and do a quick reflection of where you’re at now? Take one aspect of your life that you’d like to progress further in.

    For example, it may be your current job. Start with your why. Write down your reasons for why you’re in the job that you’re in.

    Then, think about your Motivation Core: your Purpose. Write down what it is within your job that gives you meaning, and what are some things that will help push you forward in life.

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    Once you have those points, it’s time to do a comparison. Does your current job help you make progress towards that purpose that you’ve written?

    If it does, you’re on the right track. If it doesn’t, or if you’ve realized your life isn’t going where you want it to, don’t panic. There’re tools that can help you get through this. The Actionable Motivation On Demand Handbook is one of those effective tools that can help you always stay motivated. Get your own handbook and never lose motivation again!

    Do your best to not focus on the negative. Review your goals and aim yourself in a positive direction, even if it means that you start small.

    Final Thoughts on Staying Motivated

    Happiness doesn’t need to be a vague term or illusion that you’re constantly chasing after with no end in sight. By finding your true motivation, you’ll be one step closer to realizing your happiness and finding meaning in everything you do.

    You may have tried many solutions to help you stay motivated and found that none of them really have any impact. That’s because they bring about incremental changes only, and permanent change requires a holistic approach. It requires more than just focusing on one area of your life or changing one part of your routine or actions.

    You want to make a fundamental change, but it feels like big, unknown territory that you can’t afford to venture into at this point in your life.

    The truth is, taking your life to the next stage doesn’t have to be this complicated. So, if you’d like to take the first step to achieving your life purpose, the time to learn how to find motivation is now!

    More on How to Find Motivation

    Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] European Journal of Business and Management: Impact of Reward and Recognition on Job Satisfaction and Motivation
    [2] Perspectives on Psychological Science: Finding Meaning With Creativity in the Past, Present, and Future

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