Advertising
Advertising

How to Effectively Overcome a Lack of Motivation

How to Effectively Overcome a Lack of Motivation

If you are not motivated from the outset, you won’t have the impetus to take the first step you need to accomplish what you want. If you don’t find a way to stay motivated until you reach your goal, you won’t have the energy you need to get there.

Getting motivated about what you want to do is always easy; but staying motivated afterwards is far more challenging. It is far simpler to get motivated than it is to stay motivated.

How easily do you go from motivation to apathy? Zig Ziglar said it perfectly when he said that motivation doesn’t last, just like bathing, which is why it is recommended daily.

Here are 4 common reasons why you lose motivation and what you can do about it

Advertising

1. It is too far out of reach

One of the most common reasons to start losing motivation is when the task starts to get more difficult than anticipated. Have you ever felt really motivated to begin with, but as time goes by your motivation quickly disappears as you realize how challenging it really is? If you don’t feel confident that you can do what you want to and your goal seems too far out of reach, you won’t feel very motivated to take action.

  • If you start to lose confidence and hesitation occurs, don’t give up. First ask yourself; “What is making this so difficult for me?” You want to identify what is causing you to feel this way and what would give you more confidence to continue. Write down whatever comes to mind. It could be that you lack some skill, self esteem, clarity, or time, etc
  • Once you have identified what is causing this, you can now come up with ways to overcome this and you will feel motivated to keep going forward. Instead of giving up on your goal, find a way to feel more confident about your abilities, create mini-goals to support your bigger goal and get motivated again. If you give up because it becomes to difficult, you will be giving up on a lot of things in your life.

2. Feeling trapped

Have you ever felt motivated about what you are doing but felt stuck to take action on it at the same time? If you feel stuck you will procrastinate and quickly start to lose motivation to keep going.

Whenever you want to do something new or take action on a goal, you need to have your feelings and actions aligned. When your feelings are not aligned with the action, nothing will flow and you will feel stuck.When you feel trapped, check in with yourself and identify whether it is the action or your feelings that are stopping you. What are your thoughts and true feelings towards this goal and the actions that you need to take to get there?

Let’s say you are a freelancer looking to take on more clients, this is your main objective. One of the strategies you chose is to send out your portfolio and pitch potential clients. You know this strategy has a high success rate so you have decided to include it in your plan.

Advertising

  • If your feelings and thoughts are not aligned, you would think this is a good step to take, but you might then feel stuck because you lack confidence in approaching potential clients and selling yourself. You will get stuck and lose motivation.
  • If your actions are not aligned, you would feel confident in your abilities to sell, but you don’t think this is the best action to take to reach your goal, you reluctantly chose it because you read it was a good thing to do. You will get stuck and lose motivation.

Identity what is keeping you stuck and change what needs to be. Get unstuck and you will get the motivation you need to push forward.

3. You cannot see the return on your investment

Just because something is good for you, it doesn’t mean that you will immediately be motivated by it, you need to have a high return on investment. You need to see a clear and motivating connection between the efforts you put in and what you get out.  A huge mistake is ‘assuming’ that you will be motivated by something and riding on a false sense that ‘this should be motivating’ when it simply isn’t.

You will start to lose motivation when you feel that you have to put in much more effort than you what you think you will get out in the end. There are two ways things you could do in this situation, either decide that it isn’t worth it or spot the reasons why this is something really awesome to do.

  • Intrinsic rewards are more motivating than extrinsic rewards so you can start by connecting your objectives to your values. When your objectives are aligned with your true values, you will find it easier to put the effort in and stay motivated.
  • Then, link as many benefits to what you want to do and bi-benefits, the benefits of those benefits. Find as many meaningful reasons why your intentions would be good for you as you can. Challenge yourself to come up with a list of at least 10 benefits to renew your motivation again.
  • Lastly, you could also get clear on what will happen if you don’t take action. You might find that you are more motivated to move away from what you don’t want than to move towards something you do want.

4.  Feeling disappointed

Ever felt like you were on a canoe rowing upstream, against the current? It is a constant struggle and it feels like you are just not making any progress not matter what. When there are so many struggles, obstacles and challenges ahead and you go from disappointment to disappointment, you lose motivation very quickly.

Advertising

Imagine turning the canoe around and letting it flow downstream instead. You can do this by changing the way you are looking at the situation. Feeling let down is not a nice feeling, no one wants to feel let down. Is it possible that there is a message in the ‘let downs’, they are neither good nor bad? Often we keep attracting the same experience until we learn how to manage it in a different better way.

Sometimes you just need to keep hearing the ‘no’s to get to the right yeses’ or sometimes you need see the gift in the situation instead of reacting blindly and only seeing what you want to. These could also be the exact challenges you need to overcome to grow and support you when you reach your goal in the end. If you feel disappointed it is because of the way you see the situation, is it possible there is a better way to look at it? If there is, you will no longer feel a lack of motivation in anyway.

 

If you want to effectively overcome your lack of motivation, identify why it went and then, take massive action to seek out that motivation again – it is always there, you only need to take that extra step to find it and bring it back.

Advertising

 

To your success!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks for Maximum Productivity 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life 20 Inspiring Vision Statement Examples (2019 Updated) 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated) 5 Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Your Holidays!

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next