Presented by BetterHelp. It can get frustrating seeing video after video on social media of fitness influencers with seemingly endless motivation. You’re probably wondering, how on earth do they do it? I’ve tried and tried to feel motivated to get in shape or eat healthier, but I just don’t know how. Getting stuck in this slump of no motivation, fatigue, and low self-esteem is incredibly disheartening.
But hear this: you’re so far from alone in that feeling. In this rise-and-grind, burnout culture we live in, many of us are feeling stuck, without the level of motivation we need to accomplish our goals.
There are real, concrete reasons this is happening, and real concrete things we can do about it. Read on to figure out why you might be feeling so unmotivated, and how you can renew your motivation now.
What is Motivation?
Motivation is that internal drive, need, or desire to take an action or perform a certain behavior. It is the condition inside ourselves that desires change. A change in ourselves, our thoughts, environments, relationships, or feelings.
Motivation can be characterized by that burst of energy to follow through on a goal-directed behavior. While it can be mustered up from within, it’s often triggered by our external environment. Maybe we saw an inspiring quote or video about getting in shape that resonated with us, and we feel motivated to get up and go for a jog.
Motivation can come and go in waves, as we’ve all noticed. That’s why to maintain a certain level of motivation, we need to practice it throughout our days. That way, it becomes less of something that strikes whenever the muse does, and more of a habitual trait we’ve prepared for. And not only do we need to practice the qualities of motivation themselves, we also need to remove many of the barriers that prevent so many of us from feeling motivated at all.
Lack of Motivation: Common Causes
Motivation is a transformative tool that allows us to get so much accomplished in life. Figuring out what matters to us, what our values are, and what goals we hold for our future can help us launch ourselves into the life of our dreams. But we need some motivation to get there. It may take some time to discern why you’re feeling unmotivated. But it’s crucial to figure out the root of the problem before you can address it. Here are the common causes we may be lacking motivation.
1. You are feeling depressed
Are you struggling with a mental health disorder like major depressive disorder or even mild depression? One of the most characteristic symptoms of depression and many other mood disorders is fatigue and a lack of motivation or interest in activities. So don’t beat yourself up for not being motivated to achieve six-pack abs when you’re living with depression. It can be challenging just to follow through on daily tasks.
If depression or another mental disorder is affecting your ability to achieve your goals, the first place you should start is in therapy. Consulting with a licensed therapist who specializes in depression matters can help you manage the symptoms, feel more energized, and transform your motivation. BetterHelp also has some great information and articles to help you get motivated.
It’s believed that one in six people (16%) will experience a depressive episode at least once in their lifetime. Science shows us that not only is physical activity useful for improving the health of our bodies, but the health of our minds and general well-being.
2. You are burnt out or overwhelmed
Burnout and overwhelm have become far too common in this grind culture we’re living in. Most of us are attempting to take on far too many tasks, job duties, hobbies, and activities than our minds and bodies can handle.
When we try too hard to be superhuman, we eventually hit the wall of burnout and overwhelm. Our nervous systems shut down on us, forcing us to rest. When we’ve pushed it too far, we’ll notice that all motivation to achieve and be productive goes out the window.
So if you’re struggling with motivation, think about the past few months, or even the past year of your life. Have you been running yourself ragged with busyness? Have you been multitasking for days on end, not slowing down at all to rest? You might be overwhelmed and burnt out.
3. You are constantly tired, or getting poor quality sleep
Similar to the symptoms of depression, feeling persistently fatigued or not getting good sleep is a motivation-wrecker. Most of us know when we’re feeling constantly wiped out. But a good indicator is if you feel completely exhausted every day around 2pm, and all you want to do is nap. Chances are, you’re not getting the length of sleep or high-quality sleep required for your body to optimize its restoration.
It’s going to be really hard to feel that burst of energized motivation when you’re stuck in a constant state of lethargy and fatigue. If tiredness may be contributing to your lack of motivation, we recommend working on that first. It’s best to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day. That way your body adjusts to its natural circadian rhythm. You should also aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night if possible.
According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million American adults suffer from a sleep disorder. Be patient and consistent, and soon you’ll be sleeping soundly once again. Here is how to do it.
4. You are trapped in a negative mindset
The cause of your lack of motivation could be as simple as being stuck in a negative mindset. And we say simple, but it’s certainly not an easy thing to pull yourself out of. To get clearer on what general mindset you are currently approaching your life with, answer this: do you usually think and believe that things are not at all in your control? Do you often feel hopeless about creating a better future for yourself? You may be caught up in the tangled net of a negative, fatalistic mindset.
Motivation requires a growth mindset. It requires at least a smidge of optimism for a better future, and the belief that you have some agency over your own life. If you feel completely out of control and hopeless, your focus should be on healing this painful mindset.
5. You spend too much time trying to please others
You can’t drink from an empty cup. We all need water and nourishment to sustain ourselves. We need energy, optimism, and a vision for our own growth. But where do we get these things from? It comes from within.
But what happens when you aren’t filling up your cup on nourishing things, healthy activities, alone time, and self-care? What if you’re a people pleaser? When you focus on giving away too often, expending all your time and energy attempting to please others, and not giving yourself time to grow and heal, your cup will quickly empty.
It’s hard to step back from the ones we love and create the boundaries we need to care for ourselves. It’s hard not to feel selfish for doing so. But we can’t feel energized, motivated, or even show up for others if we’ve given away too much and have nothing left.
Tips for Renewing Your Motivation
Lucky for us, motivation is a renewable resource. A dry spell doesn’t mean we’ll never feel ready to crush our goals again. It just means the well has run dry for the time being, and we need to identify what caused that to happen in the first place. Once we know the problem, we can get to the solution.
Here are some useful tips that can renew your sense of motivation.
Surround yourself with the right people
Having quality friendships and mentors in your life can change everything. We are who we spend our time with. Are the people around us uplifting us? Are they cheering us on when we take risks, and encouraging us to achieve our goals? Are they holding us accountable when we just want to opt out of our responsibilities and values? Keep good people close to you, and watch as your motivation returns.
Check back in with your goals often
You should be checking in with your goals – short-term and long-term – frequently. Reevaluate them constantly, and edit them fiercely as needed. Life is a work in progress, but it’s impossible to have the motivation to achieve your goals when you have no clue what those even are. Get very familiar with your mind and what you truly want out of this life. And don’t be afraid to let what you want change as time goes on!
Take some time out of every day to reflect and be mindful
If overwhelm and burnout are your weaknesses, you’ll want to highlight this one. The antidote to working yourself to death is taking a beat from your laundry list of responsibilities. Breathe in deeply. Quietly reflect on how your day is going. Get some alone time for even five minutes to just close your eyes, notice your senses, and feel your body. Mindful moments of contemplation will help relax your nervous system and steer you back on track.
Incorporate regular exercise into each week
It may seem counterintuitive to tell you to exercise when your problem in the first place is your lack of motivation to do things like exercise. But trust us – if you can overcome the pain of getting outside or to the gym even once this week, your mental resistance to it will start to decrease.
Is it possible to work all the muscles in your body in 30 minutes? Try a training plan, which will help you strengthen your whole body. And moreover, you will enjoy it.
Then you’ll start to struggle less in getting exercise. Eventually, getting regular exercise will ironically skyrocket your motivation to not just get more exercise, but to achieve many other things in your life! It’s truly a worthwhile endeavor.
Structure your day better
Don’t let decision fatigue run your life and destroy your motivation. In life, we only have so much mental energy to make choices. If there are too many options on our plate, we’ll quickly arrive at decision fatigue, or a mental wall where we feel downright exhausted and burnt out.
Structuring your day somehow, in whatever way is conducive to your style, can take the decision factor out of things. That way, you can become a well-oiled machine who knows what you should be doing when you should be doing it. You’ll feel way less burnt out by choices and aimlessness, and far more focused and level-headed. This is the perfect environment for motivation to thrive.