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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

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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To your success!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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