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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 January 27, 2022

Losing Confidence in What You Do? 4 Steps to Regain Confidence

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Losing Confidence in What You Do? 4 Steps to Regain Confidence

Oh, those voices in our heads! You know the ones. They whisper words of judgment and doubt. They ask us, “Who do you think you are?” and “How could you possibly be so clueless?” They are masters at making us feel as if we’re just not good enough. And before we even realize it’s happening, slowly but surely, we start losing confidence in who we are, what we do, and pretty much everything we ever thought we knew.

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. According to the online therapy platform BetterHealth, everyone lacks confidence occasionally.[1] It’s also not your fault. So many factors contribute to losing confidence. An article in Psychology Today points to everything from genetic makeup to life experiences to media messages as reasons why we may be losing confidence.[2]

So, what can we do when we’re losing confidence? The answer is “a lot.”

Below are four simple steps that have restored confidence quickly in the people I coach, and I know they’ll help you do the same.

Step 1: Figure Out the Root Cause

Knowing why you’re losing confidence is key to reversing that downward spiral and not only getting your confidence back but also strengthening it in the process.

So, take the time to become aware of your environment, your thoughts, your behaviors, and your relationships so that you can identify the negative influences that need to be addressed.

For example:

  • Are you comparing yourself to other people’s “highlight reels” on social media? Does doing that boost your confidence or does it do the very opposite?
  • Are you putting unrealistic expectations on yourself? Do you feel as if you have to be “perfect” or that you have to “know it all” from the word go? Are those “unattainables” part of the problem in your losing confidence?
  • Are you feeling your age? Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond, every season of life brings with it new experiences, and sometimes, having to learn something new contributes to our losing confidence in who we thought we were.
  • Are the people in your life—your so-called “friends,” your bosses, colleagues, or even your significant others—disrespecting you to the point of beating you and your self-confidence down?

Asking yourself these questions and getting answers will help you to begin to break free from whoever and whatever is dragging you down.

Step 2: Remember Who You Are

I know. This sounds either too simple or a bit daunting and maybe even scary. But I promise you that all the people I have coached have found it to be empowering.

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This is, quite simply, taking inventory of yourself. So, take out a sheet of paper. Write down the years you’ve been alive.

You can start at any age and focus on individual years or group years in increments of five or ten years. It doesn’t matter how you go about doing this. It only matters that you get real with yourself when you do.

Humans tend to remember and reflect more on the negatives in life—past traumas, unfavorable experiences, perceived failures.[3] So, for this exercise, you want to force yourself to write down things you have done in your past that have gotten you to where you are today.

No moment is too small. No judgments and no cherry-picking. You simply write it all down.

For example, when you were 11 months old, did you take your first steps? What year did you speak your first word? When did you learn to ride your bicycle? Were you 16 when you got your driver’s license? Did you learn your computer skills on a PC or a Mac? When was your first crush or kiss? Were you ever responsible for a fur baby or feathered friend? When’s the first time you boarded an airplane? How old were you when you cashed your first paycheck? What’s one thing you did in your past that you never thought you’d ever be able to do?

You see how when we objectively review all the things we’ve done (and succeeded at)—many of which we had no clue how to do at the start—we begin to realize just how capable we are?

It’s not that we didn’t make mistakes or didn’t fall down while trying and learning. We most likely did. The point is that we progressed and that nothing—neither the good things nor the bad—lasted forever.

In doing this exercise, we begin to see ourselves more clearly and boost our self-confidence. We also start to gain perspective from hindsight, often having those lightbulb moments of how one event that didn’t go as planned actually turned into the catalyst for a moment that was bigger and better than you could have ever anticipated.

We then take this to the next level and go outside of ourselves. So, write a little social media post or craft a simple text message asking the other people in your life to share two or three qualities that come to mind when they think about you.

Don’t be shy about it, and don’t fear what they may say. I promise you that the responses you get will surprise you in a positive kind of way.

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We all are our own worst enemies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to become friends with who we are (and who those voices of self-doubt and judgment in our heads have us convinced we may be).

Step 3: Strike a Pose

Madonna fans may have just uttered the word “Vogue” and, yes, that’s part of what I’m talking about here. If you’ve never actually read the lyrics from Madonna’s 1990 hit bearing that title, I encourage you to do so.

That song is all about getting on the dance floor when you don’t feel good enough inside yourself. The lyrics are speaking to anyone losing confidence, and they suggest how throughout history, icons with attitude just got out there and did their thing—and you can, too.

Don’t believe me? Don’t think it can be that simple? Don’t know or even like to dance?

I hear you. But before you dismiss this step, consider this example from what started me on the path to striking my pose whenever I felt as if I was losing confidence and needed a boost.

I was a young corporate executive struggling to keep my head above water during a particularly challenging time of merging with another team. My paths crossed with an older, wiser “been around the block” celebrity moments before I would be facing a boardroom filled with decision-makers of my fate.

This gracious lady shared with me her secret as to how she was able to exude confidence even in her most dreaded moments.

Ready for it?

In the elevator, hallway, or the bathroom you visit on your way to whatever it is that has shaken your faith in you and your abilities, you do what she told me was called “the Wonder Woman pose” (works no matter how you self-identify).

Simply put, you stand straight, take up some space, put one hand on each hip, chin tilted upward, breathe in, and be present. Hold this pose for a few minutes. It’s one of the power poses by social psychologist Amy Cuddy.

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This Harvard Professor, author of the bestselling book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, and TED Talk speaker galvanized millions with ways to access our power and elevate our confidence. If you try it, you’d be in good company.

Beyoncé does it. Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde—the French politician, lawyer, and president of the European Central Bank—does it. And Cuddy’s study explains why it works.

Our attitudes often follow our behaviors, her research suggests, meaning that assuming the body language of a powerful person can make anyone who does it feel more confident.

Step 4: Just Say “No”

Losing confidence means you’ve given your power away. And one of the fastest ways to take back your power is to utter a tiny two-letter word: NO.

Now, this is going to take some practice. But guess what? So did you when you lost confidence in yourself. Revisit Step 1 in this article. Every one of those examples took time and, yes, practice to erode your self-confidence. So now, identify which ones are negatively contributing to how you’re feeling about yourself, and let’s start practicing rebuilding your self-esteem.

Start off small. Is scrolling through your social media doing some damage to your psyche? Then just say “no” to it. Take a break from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever is consuming you.

You get to choose whether or not you allow that noise into your life. Prioritizing yourself by saying “no” to paying attention to others’ posts is something that you control and that has a very powerful payoff.

What if you’ve determined that your losing confidence is directly related to you getting older? It’s no secret that there’s bias and ageism and a socially pervasive idea that you’re either too old to do certain activities or to learn new things.

But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: At every age, we think the decade that came before was easier and that we were somehow better, smarter, faster. Some of that may be true, but most of it isn’t.

Say “no” to focusing on what you think you can’t do or you can no longer do as well as you used to. Put your energies into all that you do know, everything you have experienced, the wisdom you’ve gained, and the skills you’ve acquired. For every moment your inner voice criticizes you, tell it “No. Thanks, but no, you’re wrong, and here’s why…”

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Practice saying “no” at least once a day. It can be to your own judgy voices of doubt, or it can be to the external factors you’ve identified that have caused you to lose confidence. It, along with these other suggestions, are very powerful steps in restoring your confidence.

Final Thoughts

Losing confidence in ourselves happens. It’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

I bet if you asked the people closest to you in your life—the ones who outwardly seem to be so very confident—they’ll shrug and nod, letting you know that they’ve experienced self-doubt and a loss of confidence, too. It’s part of being human and living this thing we call life.

Remember, however, the famous quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady and wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

You get to choose. You always have the power. Remember who you are. Strike a pose, and just say “no” to whatever is dragging you down.

So, what do I want to know? What’s one tiny step you’ll take today to start back on the path of restoring your confidence?

More Tips on How to Restore Confidence

Featured photo credit: Thomas Mowe via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] BetterHealth: Self-esteem
[2] PsychologyToday: 5 Reasons People Have Low Self-Confidence
[3] verywellmind: What Is the Negativity Bias?

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