Advertising
Advertising

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?

Advertising

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:

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

“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

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

How to Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Happen How to Actually Make Your Goals Happen 9 Things Successful People Do To Always Get What They Want How to Develop a Can Do Attitude and Succeed in Life 50 Self-Affirmations to Help You Stay Motivated Every Day

Trending in Mental Strength

1 How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today 2 How to Not Take Things Personally for a Happier Life 3 How to Stop Being Passive and Start Getting What You Want 4 How to Fight Your Irrational Fears And Stay Strong 5 Feeling Frustrated in Life? 8 Ways to Get Back on Track

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

How to Live Your Best Life Starting Today

As human beings, one of our deepest-rooted desires is to have a meaningful and happy existence. You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Live your best life.” It’s good advice.

We all want to feel connected to both ourselves and others. We want to feel that we’re part of something important and that we’re making a difference in the world.

We want to look back at our lives and our achievements and be proud. In short, we want what the saying says: to live our best lives.

But what does it really mean to live your best life?

You are a unique individual, so living your best life is exclusive to you. Your best life will reflect your true values. It will be made up of what makes you happy and will be colored by what making a difference means to you.

What Stops You From Living Your Best Life?

While living your best life is all about you, what other people think can have an impact on your quest to live your best life.

Social media, for example, puts us under a lot of pressure. There are specific expectations of what “happy” looks like, and we’re under pressure to conform to what society expects.

For example, we are pressured to look a certain way, wear the “right” clothes, have exciting adventures with eye-catching friends, eat ethical and healthy food, and do charity work.

These are only a few of society’s expectations. It’s a long list.

Social media claims to connect us, but often it can do the opposite.

We can spend so much time worrying about what other people are doing, trying to live the life that society expects of us, that it can be easy to lose track of what makes us happy and what our best life actually looks like.

Start the Journey

What does it look like to live your best life? The following are some practical tips and tools to move from living your current life to living your best life.

1. Be the Best Version of Yourself

To live your best life, you must be the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone else. Don’t try to be what other people want you to be.

Focus on who you want to be. Play to your strengths and be proud of what makes you different. You are brilliant.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book Happiness Project, created her own commandments. The first one was “Be Gretchen.” This gave her permission to follow her gut feeling and make up her own rules.

For example, she stopped forcing herself to enjoy parties, cocktails, and fashion just because that’s what she thought society expected.

So, inspired by Gretchen, create your own commandment: “Be more YOU,” and remind yourself of this every day, unapologetically.

Advertising

2. Observe Yourself

To work out what the best you looks like, you must get to know yourself better. It’s your best life after all – not anyone else’s.

Start to notice how you respond to various situations. What are your habits? What makes you happy? What frustrates you? How do you behave under pressure? What gives you energy? What drains you?

Spend a week simply noticing. Write your observations down so you remember.

3. Identify Your Bad Habits

As part of your observations, start to notice your bad habits. Consider the things that don’t ultimately make you feel good.

Does scrolling mindlessly through Instagram make you happy? For 5 minutes, perhaps, but for longer?

That last glass of wine was delicious, but do you pay the price later?

That chocolate was enjoyable at the moment, but now that the sugar high is over, are you feeling regretful?

Observe yourself first. Then, start to deliberately do more of the things that make you happy and give you energy.

At the same time, work on reducing then eliminating the habits that squander your time, drain your energy, and ultimately don’t make you happy.

Need help conquering your bad habits? Read How to Break Bad Habits Once and For All.

4. Set Intentions

After having thought about what makes you happy and what drains your energy, focus on what living the best life looks like for you.

One of the keys to this is being intentional about it. When you deliberately set intentions, you are more likely to act with purpose and drive.

Setting intentions is different from setting goals. Goals are your list of things you want to achieve. You can set them daily, monthly, yearly, or a combination.

A common practice is to define goals and write them down. This makes them more tangible and makes you more accountable, therefore, making the goals more likely to happen.

The subtle yet important difference between goals and intentions is that when setting intentions, you decide what kind of positive feelings and emotions you are seeking.

For example, “This week, my intention is to approach my admin tasks with gusto in order to complete them more quickly.”

Intentions can be more motivating than goals because if you don’t achieve your goal, it can feel like a failure and can ultimately hold you back.

Advertising

If you don’t achieve your intention to approach something in a specific way, you can more easily regroup and have another try.

Write down your intentions every month, week, or day, using whichever time frame works best for you.

For example, “I intend to enjoy going swimming three times this week” or “I intend to assertively build my network in my local area this month.”

Setting intentions gives you something to focus on, and it also helps to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed that often happens when we set ourselves goals.

5. Visualize Living Your Best Life

Visualization can help you to cement your intentions. It involves visualizing how it would feel to live your best life once you achieve it.

It can help you to further establish what you want and allow you to settle into a positive mindset.

To visualize, first choose your focus. Choose a specific intention and how you will feel once it is accomplished. Then, take the time to daydream and allow your imagination to wander.

For example, if your intention is going swimming three times a week, imagine what you will look and feel like:

  • What will you wear?
  • How do you get there?
  • What time of day do you go?
  • How do you feel when you’re in the water?
  • How do you feel afterward?

Ask yourself these little questions and allow yourself to feel the same feelings you would feel if you were currently fulfilling your intention.

10 Ways to Live Your Best Life

Now that you’ve decided and visualized what your best life looks like, let’s look at some more practical steps you can take to achieve it.

1. Focus

Whatever you do, focus. If you swim, swim. If you study, study. Multitasking is a myth. It’s not possible to do more than one thing at a time well. Focused work is the least tiresome and the most productive type of work.

Michael LeBouf, the author of The Millionaire in You, said,

“Winners focus, losers spray.”

2. Take Responsibility for Taking Action

Taking action can feel scary. We fear failure, but we can also fear success. It can be easy to feel too busy to achieve your intentions.

However, you have the choice to take action and live your best life or stay the same. It’s up to you, so take responsibility to take action.

3. Live in the Present

Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. We so often get stuck because we put things off.

We can think, “When I’ve lost 10 lbs I’ll go swimming,” or “When I feel more confident I’ll look for a new job,” or “When I get my new running shoes I’ll start running.”

Advertising

How about starting from where you are? How about using what you already have?

We often put off taking action until we have the newest phone/camera/game/course/book/shoes as if they are the keys to happiness. In the process, we forget about what we already have.

Grab the camera that you have, put on your old running shoes. Go and do something interesting today with what you’ve got. Fancier gadgets, better clothes, or a slimmer body won’t make you better.

Action will.

4. Declutter

This applies to the environment you live in as well as the people you spend time with. Use Marie Kondo’s decluttering method of asking, “Does it bring you joy?”[1]

If your answer is yes, you keep the item. If you hesitate or say no, you donate it or throw it out. Simple.

This also applies to people. If there are people in your life that make you feel bad, drain your energy, and don’t bring you joy, let go of them.

Instead, spend time with the people and activities that give you energy and make you feel good.

5. Relish the Simple Things

When we’re busy, we can forget to appreciate what we have. Take time to focus on the simple things. Even when you’re feeling low, there’s always something to be grateful for.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.[2] Be deliberate in being grateful for what you do have, rather than resentful of what you don’t.

6. Journaling

Journaling

is simply writing your thoughts down.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper not only helps you get your thoughts in order, but it can also help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress and anxiety.[3]

In the chaos of life, it is easy to overthink, feel anxious, or not appreciate what you do have. Journaling can help you manage your thoughts and feelings and productively cope with life.

Be curious and keep learning. Ask more questions and keep pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and learn.

What are you interested in or curious about? Perhaps it’s learning more about where you live, or reading up on a particular topic? Maybe it’s traveling to a new town or country?

According to Dan Pink’s research, learning is a key motivator.[4] Whether you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a boring routine or you’re stressed by the tasks of daily life, learning something new is a way to step outside yourself and your comfort zone.

Advertising

Create a bucket list of all the things you’d like to do and learn and the places you’d like to go to, and start ticking them off.

7. Make Someone’s Day

Being kind to others makes them feel good, and it also releases chemicals in your body that make you feel good. Think about a time you gave someone a gift that they loved. How did you feel?

You don’t have to start giving people gifts to make someone’s day. Think about small, thoughtful gestures: a genuine compliment, opening the door, offering to help someone.

All these things can make a big difference in someone’s day.

8. Look After Your Body

Eat what nourishes you, including plenty of vegetables and fruit and food that’s natural and unprocessed. Drink plenty of water.

Exercise because you like it, not because you’re supposed to go to the gym.

Reject the idea that you have to push yourself really hard at exercise, and instead try out a variety of things – for example, walking the dog, gardening, yoga, swimming, or dancing.

Find what you enjoy. When you enjoy something, you’ll be motivated to do it more.

Get good rest! We’re all different in terms of the amount of sleep that we need. However, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.

If you’re not getting that much, then check out healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.[5]

More tips for staying healthy: Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

9. Manage Your Inner Critic

Most people have an inner critic that tells them they are not good enough, that they’re a fraud, and that they are going to be found out.

This happens especially when we step out of our comfort zone and change things. If you are living your best life, your inner critic likes to jeopardize that.

The next time it appears, acknowledge what’s happening and call it out. Whatever it is telling you, list all the reasons it’s wrong.

10. Be Prepared to Change the Plan

You may have set intentions to live your best life. However, life is not linear, nor does it work in lists. You must expect to be flexible and change the plan as life throws things at you.

The end game remains the same: to live your best life. It’s just the route to get there that will inevitably change.

Conclusion

Live each day like it counts, and remember, it’s your choice. Your best life is unique to you. Don’t compare yourself to others – focus on living your best life, and enjoy the learning, exploration, and experiences along the way.

More Tips on How You Can Live Your Best Life

Featured photo credit: Juliana Malta via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Kon Mari: Tidy your space, transform your life
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: In Praise of Gratitude
[3] University of Rochester Medical Center: Journaling for Mental Health
[4] Daniel H. Pink: Dan Pink on Motivation
[5] Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips

Read Next