Are your goals being sidelined because of your lack of motivation? Nothing can be more frustrating than knowing you have the potential inside of you to do something great, but you can’t muster up the energy to push yourself.
Your first instinct may be to beat yourself up and try to push yourself even harder. You’ve probably already realized that this doesn’t work—or, if it does, it only works temporarily. If you truly want to address your lack of motivation, you will have to take a different approach.
What Causes A Lack Of Motivation?
Every situation is different, so your lack of motivation could be caused by many different things. However, one pattern is nearly universal: If you have a lack of motivation, then this means that one part of you is resisting another part of you. Your inner-self has reached a deadlock, and you can’t move forward.
You have not reached a clear decision about what you will do next. Maybe your conscious mind wants to move forward with a plan, but your subconscious mind disagrees. You may not even realize that this is happening.
For instance, perhaps you want to go on a diet and, consciously, this seems like a great idea to you. You may even make meticulous plans for how you will stick to your diet. In the back of your mind, though, you’re worried that you will fail, that you will be too hungry, that it will be too hard, and so on. This will cause a lack of motivation.
At War With Yourself
Lack of motivation is just inner resistance most of the time. There could be a variety of reasons for it:
Lack of motivation comes from having split yourself in half. All the parts of yourself are not working seamlessly, and this is slowing you down. You can’t force all the different sides of you to agree, though. You may not be able to push past something as deep-seated as a fear of failure, for example. It's like trying to push against a wall.
Instead, you must take a more intelligent approach. You must discover and acknowledge all the sources of resistance before you can let them go.
Lack Of Motivation Is An Important Sign
Lack of motivation isn’t always a bad thing. It can be an important signal from your subconscious mind saying you shouldn’t be doing something! Rather than ignoring those signs and seeing them as a source of weakness, it may be a good idea to look within and try to figure out what your brain is trying to warn you about.
Sometimes, it will turn out you were approaching a goal for the wrong reasons, and you may need to let it go. Other times, you might discover that you’re facing an irrational fear, which you will have to conquer to reach the goal.
The Importance Of Motivation
Motivation will wax and wane throughout any task. It’s unreasonable to expect the same level of motivation throughout your journey. However, it’s important to have enough motivation to keep moving forward, even if it’s just one inch at a time.
This is why it’s important to take preventative measures. If you feel your motivation dropping, address it before it gets too low. Acknowledge that you're unmotivated and try to figure out the reasons. This will:
The version of you that decided to work on a goal differs from the hundreds of versions of you that will actually work on the goal. Keeping your motivation up is what will bridge the gap between that initially over-confident self and the many selves that are slaving away on your project.
Tips For Overcoming Lack Of Motivation
Overcoming a lack of motivation is not always easy because it takes motivation to get over having no motivation! It’s kind of a catch-22, but there are ways to navigate this maze. Here are some important tips:
1. Pick The Right Goal
Nothing will cause a lack of motivation more than setting uninteresting goals. When you think about achieving what you set out to do, how do you feel? Does it make you excited or are you falling asleep just thinking about it?
It may seem silly to set boring goals, but most of us do it all the time. For example, you might say: “My goal is to have a stable job.” Maybe for some people, that’s exciting, but for most of us it’s more like a “requirement” than an achievement—and the reward is just more work. You will feel unmotivated.
Instead, focus on goals you know have a chance of fulfilling you. Maybe you can set a goal to find fulfilling work instead of steady work or to build an interesting business instead of one that makes a certain dollar amount per year. Focus on how the goal makes you feel for a moment, and not on the literal results. If it makes you feel nothing, it’s the wrong goal!
2. Have The Right Reasons
Another thing that will cause a lack of motivation is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. External reasons come and go, but it’s only the internal motivation that will stay with you in the end.
For example, maybe you decided that you want to have a lucrative career because you secretly think this will help you finally look “successful” in the eyes of your overly critical mother. This is a recipe for disaster. Your brain knows your reasons are flimsy and based on neurosis, and this can lead to resistance.
If you suspect that this may be the case, try to trace your reasons for choosing a specific goal. If the reasons turn out to be silly or based on a need to soothe your wounded ego, then you may need to find a better reason.
3. Break Things Down And Don’t Worry About The Future
It seems counterintuitive to tell you not to think about the future when you’re aiming for a goal, but your goal will be achieved one day at a time, one moment at a time. Sometimes thinking too far ahead is what causes your lack of motivation.
Don’t worry too much about what you will do tomorrow. Just muster up the motivation to move forward today. You really can’t predict what kind of state you will be in a day from now or even an hour from now. Forget about it. Focus on the now. Do just one thing at a time to move your goal forward. These small actions accumulate.
4. Look At How Far You’ve Come
Let’s say you’ve been working on your goal for a while, and now you’re losing steam. It can help to look at how far you’ve come. Sometimes when we feel stuck, we forget about how much progress we’ve made. Things may move slowly, but remember that they are moving. As long as you keep your forward momentum, you will get there.
5. Build Social Support
One of the most important things that will keep you motivated even when you’re ready to quit is your social network. What kind of friends do you have? Are they supportive, indifferent, or downright discouraging?
If your social network isn’t lightly pushing you toward your goals, you might need to think about adding some new friends to your circle. If you suspect that the friends you have are toxic, you may need to cut people out of your life.
Try to find local groups of people who are into the same things you are. For example, if you’re trying to exercise more, you could join a running group. If you’re trying to start a business, your city might have some mastermind groups that could help you out.
Never underestimate the power of your social group!
A lack of motivation isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it can be your subconscious telling you that something is awry and you need to take a pause. Other times, a lack of motivation can be troublesome--like when you're reaching for a goal. It can even become a cycle where the lack of motivation itself spirals and makes you lose even more motivation.
Luckily, this is usually temporary. If you’ve chosen the right goal for you and are striving for the right reasons, there should be enough internal motivation to help push you forward when you get stuck. Filling your life with motivating people can also go a long way.
No matter what, always remember that you will inch towards your goal one day at a time. Just keep moving, and eventually, you will get there.