How to Get Motivated When You Have No Motivation to Do Anything
We all have those days when we have no motivation to do anything at all. Whether you’ve lost interest in work, dropped out of your workout routine, or can’t be bothered going out with friends, there are ways you can get that motivation back and get back on track to living your best life.
7 Things That Steal Your Motivation — And How to Fix Them
Today, I want to talk about the different things that steal your motivation, and what you can do to fire yourself up again. I’ll cover 7 reasons you might have lost your motivation, and give you tips to help you find it again.
1. You’re Depressed
Let’s get this one out of the way first because it’s the most serious. If you also are feeling stressed, anxious, or sad, you could be depressed. Here are five things you should know about depression.
- You are not alone, especially these days. Researchers at Boston University found that nearly 1 in 3 Americans scored high for depression in 2021. That’s more than triple the rate in 2019, before the pandemic. A lot of people are feeling depressed right now.
- It’s not your fault. People get depressed for many reasons. They include genetics, the environment, other illnesses, and brain chemistry. You do not choose to be depressed.
- Depression is a natural response to stress. There are a lot of different types of depression. One of the most common is situational depression. It happens when you’re dealing with big changes in your life. Let me repeat that first part — it’s a natural response.
- It’s okay to get help if you need it. You may have seen the ad with the guy in the gym trapped under a heavy barbell. When another guy comes over to help him, he says, “I’ll figure it out for myself. I just need some time.” If you’ve been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks — or if you start thinking of harming yourself — please reach out for help. You can dial 988 to get emergency help if you’re in crisis.
- Exercise, a healthy diet, and other habits can help when you’re depressed. The problem is that depression can make it hard to get motivated to do things that are good for you. Lucky for you, the rest of this is all about finding the motivation to do the things that will make positive changes in your life. I’ve written about this a lot over the last few months, so check out this article for some ideas on how to make healthy habits more fun.
2. You Don’t Know What You Really Want
It’s hard to be happy when you don’t know what you want in life. One of the keys to meaningful success is having a clear vision of what success means to you. If you’re struggling with motivation, start by asking yourself a few questions about your life.
- What makes you happy?
- What would you do if you didn’t have to earn money?
- If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
- What’s your perfect “typical” day?
- If you could change something by just snapping your fingers, what would you change?
Now, compare your answers to your current reality. How different are the two visions? What would you have to do to make your dream life come true? Having a clear vision of what you really want in your life is the first step in achieving it.
Here’s some more help on finding yourself and what you want to do with your life. It will help you get past having no motivation to do anything.
3. You’re Striving for the Wrong Goals
Goals can provide healthy motivation, as long as they’re the right goals. If you set your goals too high, you can easily get overwhelmed and give up. If you set goals that you don’t care about, you’re not going to be motivated. If your goals aren’t clear, you can easily get lost in side quests. These are three ways you can know if your goals are right for you.
- Your goal is clear and specific.
- It can be achieved in a reasonable amount of time.
- It’s something you want to do, or it will bring you closer to something you want to do.
The beauty of that list is that you can apply it to even the biggest dreams. It just means you have to break that dream down into achievable chunks, and work on them one at a time. In other words, you have to make a real plan to get where you want to be. Here are my 9 steps toward a successful life — it’s all about goal setting.
Bonus reading: a great article on setting goals that motivate you.
4. You’re Burnt Out
Burnout is a real thing. It’s gone from workplace lingo to actual medical diagnosis. If you have no motivation to work, you could be dealing with a case of burnout. These are some of the symptoms of burnout — and remember, it doesn’t just happen at work.
- You’re always exhausted.
- You’re irritable with others.
- You feel unappreciated.
- You’re always stressed.
- You have anxiety.
- You want to quit your job.
- You get unexplained headaches and stomach aches.
These are some of the causes of burnout.
- You’re expected to do too much work.
- The job expectations are unclear.
- There’s little social support.
- You feel like you have no control over your work life.
- You work with difficult people.
- You find it hard to balance work and home life.
- Evaluate your job and how you feel about it.
- Find ways to do more of the things you enjoy and less of the things you hate.
- Talk to your boss about how you feel and what would make things better.
- Get some distance from work.
- Set boundaries between home and work to give you a healthier work-life balance.
5. You’re Not in the Habit
There’s a reason that people love articles about the habits of successful people. Habits are powerful things. If you put in a little work to establish them, they can carry you through those times when you don’t have any motivation. While they’re not a magic bullet, there are some habits that can pay off in helping you get motivated and keeping you motivated.
- Set small goals for yourself every day. Don’t go wild — just make a list of one or two things you want to accomplish.
- Do something physical every day. It helps get the endorphins going and makes you feel better.
- Set a healthy sleep schedule. A good night’s sleep is the basis of good health.
- Eat food that makes you feel good. If preparing meals feels like too much, lay in a stock of ready-to-eat healthy snacks. No one is motivated when they’re hungry.
- Wash your face. It’s amazing how something as simple as scrubbing your face can clear away the brain fog and make you feel better.
- Spend time with people you like at least once a week.
I have even more tips on daily goal setting that can help you establish habits in this article.
6. You Want Immediate Rewards
Instant gratification is a heck of a drug. We live in a world where we can order anything and have it delivered within two hours — or at least overnight. Movies and sitcoms have taught us that you can fix any problem within an hour — or just 30 minutes. Real life isn’t like that, though.
Living a successful, fulfilled life is a long-term project. If you’re expecting immediate results, you’re going to be disappointed. That doesn’t mean you have to put off satisfaction forever, though. When you create a life plan and set daily goals, you have lots of opportunities to reward yourself. Remember to celebrate the small wins to keep you going toward the bigger ones.
7. You Seek Motivation from Other People
This one is a biggie. Some people get motivation from outside things, like praise from other people or getting awards. If you’re a people-pleaser, it can be difficult to get motivated to do things for yourself. This is especially true if you have people in your life who hold you back.
Making the shift from pleasing others to taking care of yourself isn’t easy, but it’s important to your motivation, and to your health. Here are some resources that can help you make that shift.
- How to Start Living for Yourself
- Coping with People Who Bring You Down
- What to Do About Toxic People
- What It Means to Be Healthy
Even when you have no motivation to do anything, it’s important to keep working toward your goals. I hope you’ll use this information and these tips to keep yourself on track when you feel like giving up. Remember, there is no one in the world who can take care of you better than you can take care of yourself. You just have to want to do it. And when you start taking care of yourself, the whole world will open up to you.
If you are looking for more tips and tricks to change your life for the better, check out my book Life Hacks: Simple Steps to a Healthier Life.
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