If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely 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 acknowledge the lack of motivation, recognize the signs and swiftly implement the 15 practical ways 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.
Things to Try if You Have No Motivation to Do Anything
Here’re 15 things to try if you are demotivated:
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 of judging yourself for needing to spend time rejuvenating rather than pushing forward constantly.
2. Remember Why You Want to Do It
If you have no motivation when you want to type an article, try to think about why you want to do it in the first place. The reasons you do something are the driving force behind everything you do. It is only when your reason is strong and emotional enough that you will do whatever it takes to accomplish the task.
When you feel no motivation at all, it is because the reason behind what you’re doing is not strong enough. Motivation can easily be defined as the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Think about it: Why do people stop smoking? Most of the time, people stop smoking because they have a strong reason; if they continue to smoke, they may suffer serious health problems or lose their loved ones.
So why do you do what you do? Do you know why you want to achieve your goals and your targets? Make sure your reasons are strong and emotional. When you have no motivation, think about the purpose why you want to do it.
3. Reframe What It Means
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 rebuilding process 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.
4. Visualize Both the Success and Regrets
Visualization is a very powerful tool that is available to us, and it is free of charge. You can think and imagine whatever you want, wherever and whenever you wish to.
Try This Exercise:
Imagine walking to your kitchen, opening your fridge door, seeing a big yellow lemon, and taking it out. After that, you take a knife and cut the big yellow lemon in half.
Imagine this vividly and with as much detail as possible. After you cut the lemon, take the half up and squeeze the lemon so that the juice drops into your mouth. Feel your hand’s pressure, hear the sound it makes while being squeezed, and imagine the sour lemon juice going into your mouth. Now, do you feel more saliva in your mouth or nothing?
Chances are, if you follow through and visualize it vividly, you will have more saliva in your mouth. This is because your mind cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined.
This is what makes visualization such a powerful tool. Think about it, if your dream is to drive a Mercedes Benz, imagine the vivid picture of you driving. Imagine the model you want, the color, the smell of the seats, feel the steering, and hear the sound of the engine roaring. Do you think your mind will eventually make it real one day?
The point is that when you imagine and visualize things in your mind, you will feel more motivated to do it. When you dream about the car you want, you will create motivation from within. Try to do this when you feel like procrastinating and have no motivation.
The more you train yourself to visualize yourself as successful (every day) and move into this space regularly so that you see yourself already in possession of what you want to obtain, the more possible it will become.
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.
5. 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.
“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” – Viktor Frankl
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.
6. 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.
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.
7. 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 9-9:30 pm each night.
If we don’t get an adequate amount of rest, our bodies can experience negative effects including cardiovascular problems, weakened immune system, type II diabetes, and mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
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.
8. Value Yourself for Being a Learner
What you base your self-worth on matters. 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 not a recipe for contentment and success.
Tom Bilyeu, the co-founder of Impact Theory, talks about having a white belt mentality and the importance of valuing yourself due to the antifragility of learning. 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.”
9. Avoid Negative Influences
Do you know that your surroundings and your environment can affect your mood?
You will become the people you are around. If you are always surrounded by successful people who talk about their growth and learning, you will learn and join the conversation as well. This is how you can overcome a lack of motivation and use your environment to boost your energy levels.
On the other hand, if you are surrounded by negative people who always gossip and talk about other people, you will feel negative and have no motivation to work as well. This can be due to a toxic work environment.
Ensure your workspace is a good and supporting environment so that you will want to wake up each morning and go to work. Remember, your environment is important and can affect you. Change your environment instead of letting it manage you. 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.
10. Change Your Physiology and Stay in Action
Motion creates emotion. Whenever you feel down and have no motivation to do your work, change your physiology.
Try This First Exercise:
Try to feel sad by thinking about all the sad things that have happened to you, and notice your physiology. Notice your breath, your shoulders, and your facial expression. Where are your hands, and do you look up or do you look down?
When you are in a sad state, your physiology will change to reflect it in the short term, affecting your motivation level. Conversely, if you feel good and energetic, your physiology will reflect that. For most people, when they feel great and motivated, their breathing will be faster, their hands’ gestures will be active, they talk faster, and their eyes will look forward.
This is why it’s often easy to tell whether someone is upset or happy just by looking at their body language. When you change your physiology, you change your emotional state as well.
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 overwhelming.
Try This Second Exercise:
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 decrease the cognitive load without wasting energy 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 minimal.
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.
11. Focus on the Possibilities
When we are out of gas and running on empty, it’s no surprise 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 your mind flow back to a state of possibility, to wander and 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 author 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.”
12. 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.
13. Watch Your Language
To move swiftly from lounging 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.
14. Let Others Motivate You
Reading a book, listening to music, or watching something inspiring can help when you have no motivation. What you can do is spend a minimum of 30 minutes each day reading an inspiring book before you start your day. This way, you will make sure you start in the right state of mind and can go through the day, even if you face challenges.
Videos and audio can be very helpful in helping you find motivation, too. For example, when you are down and feeling no motivation, spend time watching something inspiring on YouTube or listening to a motivational speech. You will be pumped up in no time and ready to go.
15. Take Breaks When Needed
Sometimes you just want to take a break when you have no motivation. Remember, success is not a destination; it is a journey that you need to go through for a long period of time. Many people mistake success for doing one great thing and think that success will come over overnight.
However, almost all successful people who have accomplished amazing results do so because they persist long enough. They take action consistently and never give up. Real success takes years to build.
Make sure you get enough rest and take a break when necessary. Understand your own capabilities and how much you can do. If you have done your work, you can reward yourself and take a break. You will notice that after resting, you will feel more energetic, motivated, and ready to take on the world again.
How Highly Successful People Feel Inspired Again
Steve Jobs: Connecting the Dots
During the Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs said that giving this speech to the students was the closest thing he came to graduating college. He’s never finished college. He recalls that the working class savings his parents had made their entire lives were being spent on his tuition at a college. After 6 months, he couldn’t see its value and dropped out. Not knowing where to go in life, he decided to take a class in calligraphy. He, however, didn’t see any practical application for that skillset in life.
Ten years later, when designing the Macintosh computer, Jobs implemented the skills he learned in his calligraphy class on the Mac, including the different types of typography.
Sometimes when you’re trying to reach a goal, it’s impossible to connect the dots where you currently are. Somehow you just have to trust yourself and have faith that you will reach your dreams, despite not having the slightest clue or perfectly laid out road to where you are going. Nobody can connect the dots looking forward; you only can connect them when you’re looking backward.
Tim Ferris: Allowing Your Environment to Predetermine Your Mood
Tim Ferriss, the author and mastermind behind the 4-Hour Work Week, has always advocated the idea of using your environment to your advantage. He believes that controlling your environment is often much more effective than relying on self-discipline. He finds that he writes the best between the hours of midnight and 1 AM to 3 to 4 in the morning. As he is writing, he will put a movie in the background so it will feel like he is in a social environment, even though the entire movie is on mute and a glass of tea.
Look around your room right now or your workspace. Does it inspire you? Does it give you motivation? Is it noisy or quiet? Sometimes the hardest thing we do to ourselves is trying to force ourselves to work in an area that is subconsciously telling us, “I can’t work here.”
When you are constantly trying to discipline yourself, you will feel worse and be less productive. Instead, try to build your ideal workplace and ideal time. Free it from distractions. If you feel more energy and enthusiasm during the night, schedule your day to work at midnight if you can. If you can realize the power of having a productive environment, you will naturally feel inspired and motivated to get work done.
Simple Tips to Regain Motivation When You are Lacking
If you’re looking for ways to find motivation, it may be time to take a good look at how you’ve aligned your priorities and where you can make changes each day. Overcoming a lack of motivation means finding what matters daily and taking small steps toward it when the energy you’re given.
Featured photo credit: Wes Hicks via unsplash.com