In a perfect world, we’re always eager to get out of bed, face the new day, and conquer whatever lies ahead. But, in reality, this is not the case. Oftentimes, just the thought of getting up in the morning is dreadful to us. We find it hard to get through a task, let alone a day. This is when a lack of motivation takes a toll on us.
There are times when we don’t even realize where this lack of motivation is coming from. But, in order to get past this block, we have to pinpoint why it’s affecting us and start from there. What causes a lack of motivation, and how can we improve these parts of our lives?
In this article, we’ll be delving further into motivation and what to do when we’re short of it. Time to get moving!
Factors that drive motivation
The factors that affect motivation have been widely investigated in behavioral psychology. And rewards are the most popular predictors of motivation. Money, for example, is an ideal reward that can motivate you to do just about anything, especially when it’s the right price!
But, aside from money and other shiny things, there are intangible aspects that can also increase our motivation. In the professional setting, employee motivation can be influenced by circumstances such as working environment, a sense of purpose, or career progression.
This topic has also been studied before.
A study was conducted among employees in Northern Malaysian universities, and it has been found that employee empowerment is strongly linked to their motivation. In a Slovenian population, this study has found that there are interdependent factors that affect employee motivation such as good relationships with colleagues, opportunities for growth, and effective management within the organization.
Personally, I get motivated when something I do excites me and feeds my passion. This way, I get to power through my workload while feeling inspired and fulfilled.
Effects of motivation
Simply put, when we’re motivated, we tend to do more. On a good day, personally, I'm able to blast through my to-do list when my motivation is high. However, when I’m lacking in that department, I might procrastinate and fail to accomplish everything on my plate.
Motivation can also push our performance for the better. Aside from the quantity, we also improve the quality of our work when we’re motivated. As a writer, for example, when the subject that I’m writing about excites me, I get more motivated to finish the piece and more satisfied with the outcome.
The way we learn can also be affected by how motivated we are. According to memorization coach James Kwik, we’re more likely to learn something when we have a reason to learn it. This is where motivation comes in. Something as simple as remembering names will be easier when we’re motivated to do so.
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What causes a lack of motivation?
Staying motivated is beneficial for us, but, like any good thing, it’s not an easy feat. However, it’s not to say that it’s impossible. Feeling demotivated can come from a lot of things, and once you figure out what’s causing it, it’ll be more manageable to get past your roadblocks!
Here are 5 things that can cause our lack of motivation and how to fix each one of them.
1. Being overwhelmed causes a lack of motivation
One of the major causes of my lack of motivation is feeling overwhelmed. For me, when there’s a handful of pending tasks with varying weight and importance, I have the tendency to be overwhelmed and less inclined to accomplish even just one of them. I then end up not being able to finish my day’s work because of this.
It’s normal to feel defeated by a pile of work that needs to be done even before you dive into them. We all struggle with this especially when we don’t think we have the time or capacity to tackle whatever we’re faced with.
Of course, there’s a way out of your overwhelming situation. If you have a number of tasks to do, categorize them by difficulty. This way, you can start with smaller and easier tasks just to get the ball rolling.
If you just have one big task that you’re overwhelmed with, try to think of a way to break it down into smaller ones. For me, when I have to write a lengthy piece, I segment this task by doing research first, next, creating an outline, and, then starting the actual writing.
When you’re overwhelmed, it’s also helpful to focus on the present rather than the enormity of what lies ahead. Just ask yourself, “what can I do now?”
2. Procrastination causes motivation issues
The more you’re prone to procrastination, the less likely you’ll be motivated to accomplish anything. It can also go the other way around: when you’re demotivated, you tend to procrastinate on the tasks at hand.
Pushing our tasks to a later time can be very tempting. Contrary to feeling overwhelmed, procrastination tells us that we will always have time to finish them, so why start now?
However, the more you set your tasks aside, the more demotivated you get. And, without enough motivation, your output will also suffer because, as we all know, crammed work isn’t always top-notch.
Procrastination’s best friend is a distraction. I know this one all too well. My procrastination is fed by the various distractions that surround me, especially my phone.
If you feel the same way, then you really have to restrain yourself. Put your phone away, and make sure that you’re only focused on the task at hand.
Another foolproof way to fight procrastination and demotivation is rewarding yourself every time you accomplish something. Perhaps, it can be treating yourself to a nice dinner or simply allowing yourself to have a 10-minute break.
3. Fear keeps us from starting
As we all know, fear can paralyze us from doing just about anything. When we fear the process or the outcome, it’s easy to lose heart. Just like feeling overwhelmed, fear can cause us to shun motivation away just because we don’t believe that we have what it takes to get to where we want to be.
Of course, being afraid is part of being human. We can’t escape it. But, it doesn’t mean that we have to succumb to it. We can feel fear about what needs to be done, but we can’t let it hold us back from doing it.
Finding motivation amidst fear can be challenging. But, one way to manage your fear is to be friends with it. What are you really afraid of? How does fear show up, and how does it affect you? What strategy works when you’re faced with fear?
Fear will always be there – it’s instinct, after all. So, you just have to get to know it and embrace it. Only then will you triumph over it especially when it’s affecting your motivation to conquer your goals.
If you want to know more about dealing with fear, here's an article by Maili about how to deal with the fear of starting something new!
4. Exhaustion causes a lack of motivation
If there’s a lot going on in your life, there’s a tendency that you’re not taking care of yourself enough – physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you’re running low on the inside, this can definitely take a toll on your level of motivation.
When I’m exhausted, of course, I’m not able to think and move according to my maximum potential. Physical and mental tiredness is also a major setback for me. So, instead of accomplishing the things on my to-do list, I would rather do something that doesn’t require much energy or just take a nap instead.
Exhaustion isn’t something that we have to fight in order to get our motivation back. It’s actually our body letting us know that we’re doing more than what we’re currently capable of.
When you’re feeling demotivated, listen to what your body is telling you. Chances are you need to step away from the hustling and prioritize your well-being first. You have to hit pause and nourish yourself first before you can do anything else.
Try to get more sleep, improve your wake-up routine or eat more healthily.
Just make sure that you’re taking mindful breaks and not simply procrastinating!
5. Impatience causes motivation issues
Ever feel demotivated because you can’t seem to get to where you want to be? It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, we get impatient with our progress which makes us feel less inspired to keep going.
We keep asking, “Am I there yet?” ,“How long will it take?” and “Will I still get there?”
When impatience affects our motivation, we are even more prone to quitting. But, just because achieving our goals is taking longer than we expect, it doesn’t mean that we’re a hopeless case.
When you’re feeling impatient, redirect your mindset and enjoy the journey instead. As they say, good things come to those who wait. Just because things aren’t happening yet, it doesn’t mean that you’re not moving or growing. Remind yourself why you’re here, and allow yourself to flourish even in the waiting.
Another way to counter impatience is to celebrate even your smallest wins. By doing so, you’ll be able to view your progress from a different perspective. You’ll get there soon, so just keep swimming!
Here's another great read on how to deal with being impatient!
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Motivation can catapult us to reach our biggest goals. But, it’s not easy to sustain especially if there are things that are weighing us down such as fear, feeling overwhelmed, or exhaustion. However, getting your motivation back is always possible. You just have to identify your stumbling blocks and find the strength to smash them! We’re rooting for you!
What do you think? Was there anything I missed? Any tips that help you deal with a lack of motivation? Let me know in the comments below!