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Published on January 11, 2021

12 Things to Do When You Have No Motivation to Do Anything

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12 Things to Do When You Have No Motivation to Do Anything

If you’re reading this article it’s likely that you’ve had it up to the eyeballs with requests and notifications bombarding you, your world is constricted, and you likely feel tight. When you feel like you have no motivation to do anything, the last thing you want is convoluted reams of advice that make your head spin.

In order to address this in the best way possible, I’m going to give you some practical pointers to gently steer you in the right direction and get you back on track.

It’s perfectly okay to feel this way. No matter how senior, important, or famous we become, we all get demotivated from time to time, and especially at times of heightened global uncertainty like we are currently facing.

The key is to recognize the signs and swiftly implement the 12 practical steps below so that you embrace your full potential, reconnect with your bigger vision, and reignite that spark of excitement inside that fuels your motivation once again.

1. Banish Your Inner Critic

From the moment you recognize that you have no motivation to do anything, the first thing you must do is forgive yourself. It’s important that you don’t judge yourself or feel guilty for not being as active or motivated as you would like.

There is a tendency for go-getters to view themselves as bad, unworthy of success, or less than, simply for not meeting a certain standard, which can compound the feelings of exhaustion, mental fatigue, and lethargy that we are trying to prevent.

If this is you, stop right here and vow to be more conscious in your approach and mindful around judging yourself for needing to spend time rejuvenating rather than pushing forward constantly.

2. Reframe What It Means

That said, it brings us to the next step, which is to reframe what it means to prioritize your own rejuvenation above all else. This can be uncomfortable for some people, me included.

There was a time when I found it hard just to be still with myself, but over the years I have trained myself to enjoy the sanctuary of alone time and embrace stillness.

The goal is to shift your mindset so that you see rejuvenation itself as a step in the right direction, as progress and productivity. This way, you can stop seeking forward momentum from alternative means (e.g. doing more work) and let the process of rebuilding unfold.

Set aside time to reframe and take ownership for your inner replenishment. All high performers make this connection eventually, and once they do, they never go back.

3. Recognize Your Emotional State

When you give yourself the space to honor your feelings, you actually create distance between yourself and your emotional reaction. In this space, even if you have no motivation to do anything, you can choose how you want to show up to the world and for yourself.

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” – Vicktor Frankel

The best bit here is that you can then anticipate that you are likely to have a short fuse due to your lack of motivation and low tolerance for nonsense, obstacles, and petty annoyances.

Of course, this can be anything from your cab driver getting lost, infuriating phone operators, a frustrating payment system, or processes that make no sense. Trust me, it happens, and it can drive you up the wall if you don’t get hold of your emotions and give yourself the love you need by creating the space to react differently.

This takes practice, but it is the way forward.

When you have no motivation to do anything, it means you’re depleted and need to urgently focus on replenishing all areas, including your mind, body, emotions, and spirit on all levels.

4. Reduce the Complexity

As an optimist, it’s all great. You’re excited about the big picture of it all, and making progress is your middle name. As a result you invariably say “yes” to everything, leaving no time to process how you actually feel about the things you’ve said yes to!

Your life becomes a conveyer belt of experiences, and like anything done excessively, it slides into an unrelenting pattern of dullness, lack of motivation, and potential burnout.

Living in this state of high alertness and constant reactivity, it’s no wonder we get a little frayed around the edges if we don’t take the time to recuperate.

This means the way forward is found by taking a break from the immediacy of life, shutting off the noise, and reducing the complexity.

All these extra commitments chip away at your core essence. You must guard your energy like gold.

“The fastest way to raise your level of performance: Cut your number of commitments in half”. – James Clear, Atomic Habits

By stepping away, you regain a place for yourself to exist in the present moment, you put your needs front and center, and this act will catapult you back on to the right path.

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By eliminating the social “have to’s,” the excess Zoom calls, and persistent notifications, it gives you the bandwidth and the boundaries to prioritize the next few crucial steps to finding your spark.

Airplane mode isn’t just for flights! Make sure you use it.

5. Get to Bed, Sleepy Head

When we are severely depleted, it’s hard to find our inner spark of genius, and our passion for life is muted, temporarily lost even.

High quality sleep needs to become a priority, and fast.

Getting into the habit of knowing what your body needs and adapting will accelerate the process. Aim to get to bed before 9-9.30pm each night.

Resist the temptation to check work emails just before you nod off. I know that is a tough one, but it’s worth it. Better yet, put your phone on airplane mode while you sleep to reduce the chance of an interruption to zero.

6. Value Yourself for Being a Learner

What you base your self-worth on matters[1]. When you base your self-worth on being a top performer, sales figures, or having the right answers, it unravels when your performance dips, taking your self-esteem with it.

This is a not a recipe for contentment and success.

Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of Impact Theory, talks about having a white belt mentality and the importance of valuing yourself because of your willingness to learn because it is antifragile.

When something is antifragile, it means that it gets stronger the more pressure you put on it, rather than reaching a maximum breaking point and snapping.

As author Nassim Telab puts it,

“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

7. Avoid Negative Influences

Staying away from energy drainers and negative people is crucial for you right now.

When we are feeling like we have no motivation to do anything, our decision-making abilities are impacted. Being around pessimistic, negative complainers will serve only to darken your day.

The way to move from darkness and into the light is to connect to your inner self.

8. Take Inspired Action

Taking action around the things you can control helps reduce overthinking and anxiety because you initiate momentum. The key is to do this without triggering a state of overwhelm.

To begin, write down your goals and figure out the skills you need to learn to get there. This is what I call “proactive progress” – it moves you away from simply wishing something would happen and instead into taking actionable steps toward its attainment.

Next, break each goal into very simple, clear objectives.

With your energy levels severely reduced, we want to be decreasing the cognitive load without wasting energy on trying to recall what to do next. The way to do this is to keep a list of the top 3 things you want to accomplish above all else in the notes section of your phone.

This helps you stay focused when energy and tolerance levels are at a minimum.

With little energy to give, you need a tool or system that can help quickly remind you of where you are going and what you need to do next. This is important because the act of ticking off key things from your list (no matter how small) helps you to feel empowered.

9. Visualize Your Success

The more you train yourself to visualize yourself as successful (every day) and move into this space regularly so that see yourself already in possession of that which you want to obtain, the more possible it will become.

Commit to spending 30 minutes a day visualizing yourself actually living your dream.

What you focus on becomes your reality, and it all starts with the energy you put out in the world, starting with your thoughts and beliefs.

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10. Focus on the Possibilities

When we are out of gas and running on empty, it’s no surprise that our motivation is at an all-time low. It’s hard to be enthusiastic and full of life when you aren’t filling the tank with the right fuel.

Part of that means giving yourself permission to take the day off, to leave the emails and watch your favorite TV program while eating your favorite snack. This is absolutely acceptable.

What this also does is give you a window of opportunity to let you mind flow back to a state of possibility, to wander and to dream. This, in turn, helps you connect back to your bigger vision and have a clearer understanding of what’s been taking your energy that doesn’t deserve it.

Sometimes, when we are in the thick of it, we end up solving problems for others, trying to be the hero to everyone and putting their needs above our own.

By taking a step back and focusing on your self-growth, ideas, potential, and mission, the fire inside will start to burn brighter.

What we are aiming for here, as Idil Ahmed says, is to recognize our inner glimpse. According to Ahmed, an Inner Glimpse is:

“The moment you experience a spiritual revelation that reminds you of your potential, your power and the ability to see in your imagination the multitude of possibilities that are within your grasp.”

11. Help Another

When we are feeling out of sync with the world, with no motivation to do anything, often one of the quickest ways we can bring ourselves back into alignment with our bigger vision is by helping someone else. This could be by listening to a friend talk about their own life story or helping them prepare for an interview.

Giving doesn’t have to be financial. It can be as simple as making someone feel a little better about their day or more empowered.

12. Watch Your Language

To move yourself swiftly from lounging about on the sofa, barely able to exert the mental energy required to decide which show to watch on Netflix, to a hot ball of enthusiasm and drive, you need to watch how you talk to yourself.

Particularly, this involves watching the words you use both silently and aloud. They should reflect abundance, positivity, solutions, optimism, and passion rather than defeatism, self pity, and hopelessness.

You are at war with yourself. Set yourself up for success by correcting yourself as you go and raising the standard of what you will tolerate in your life as a result.

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More About Finding Motivation

Featured photo credit: Wes Hicks via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Tim Castle

Bestselling Author, Coach and Co-Founder of My Book Habit

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.

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Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.

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Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.

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Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.

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Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.

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So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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