Lacking Motivation

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: So I graduated high school, by now I thought I’d be a famous musician. Sadly this has not been the case. I’ve lived with my parents for a year doing absolutely nothing but playing games because I can’t afford to do anything else and nobody has been hiring, when I check up with the hiring manager they just tell me they’ll call me if they need me…

Games have gotten boring, I’m tired of being broke. I have no ambition to pursue my music because I can’t get the quality I desire. My parents want me to go to college but I honestly could never see myself doing that. I would also never join the military. So I’m stuck, 19 and living with my parents without any job experience or a job and it seems like there’s nothing out there for me.

I never imagined getting a job to be this difficult and having no money makes me feel useless. Every time I find something entertaining to do I get bored of it after a few days and find myself looking for other things to do – none of which produce money. I have absolutely no friends right now except for long distance ones that I talk to rarely.

I would never kill myself but I definitely am questioning how significant my life is in the big picture. I just can’t seem to find anything that I enjoy that is worth sticking to. What can I do?

A: You thought you’d be a famous musician but you aren’t practicing or playing out? Huh? Talent isn’t enough. Becoming famous at anything takes about 10,000 hours of practice and a fair amount of luck. People who make it are those who would play in a closet entertaining the coat hangers if that was the only venue they could get.

You won’t find a gig or a job in your room. It’s time to get out there. Find a group of young people who want to play out and start getting together to practice several evenings a week in someone’s garage. Yeah – I’m serious. Make a garage band. That’s how most people get started. Advertise in your local paper for the drummer or bass player or whatever you need and get going. If you get good enough, you can start offering to play out for a “pass the hat” in order to get some attention. Then see how it goes. Lightning might strike and you and your band might get discovered but worst case you’ll have some fun and make some friends and contacts.

As far as employment: Haven’t you heard? Volunteering is a way to build your resume and to get the attention of people who can help you find a job. If you can’t make money right now, you can at least get yourself some skills and develop some connections. Volunteer to teach kids your instrument at your local community center, start a gaming club for troubled teens, work at the local food pantry. While you are there, be an active, enthusiastic member of the team. Let people know that you also need paid work and it might evolve into a job. Even if it doesn’t you’ll have more to put on your resume that a high school diploma and a high score on a video game.

I agree that you are in no way ready for college. But while you are volunteering and working on your band, you could benefit from taking a course or two at your local community college. Consider taking a class in arts management, or songwriting, or music 101. You will be helping that resume and you’ll be meeting people your own age. It will also help you decide if you want to further your education.

Bottom line? Stop the self-pity party and get going – especially if you don’t feel like it. If you don’t do some things differently, nothing is going to be different.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Feb 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Lacking Motivation. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/02/11/lacking-motivation-2/