Lacking Motivation

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am feeling very clueless at times. I don’t know what I want out of life in general. I’m basically sitting here, accepting failure and it’s not worrying me as much as it should. I’ve been feeling drastically lazy. Pretty much I just sit and watch TV and just spend my time very unproductively and don’t want to be this way. I’m not depressed; it’s just my mind and body won’t allow me to do things that I should be doing. If you suggest anything, please let me know. Thank you.

A: You are motivated enough to ask the question. That’s a very good place to start. Let’s build on that.

You are in your freshman year. My first question to you is whether you really want to be in college. Many teens go off to school because it is expected or because they don’t know what else to do. They are not there because they are passionate about a subject or excited about entering the professional world. The sudden lack of structure from the scheduled days of high school to the very unscheduled life of a college student isn’t necessarily freeing. Some students don’t yet have the internal structures necessary to schedule themselves. So they end up doing what you are doing: Not getting to class and not doing much. You might find this article helpful.

If you recognize yourself in that article, I suggest you take a break from college. Do a gap year program or get out there and work until you figure out what you want to do in life. College is too expensive in time and money to just hang out there. Here are some suggestions for other ways to have new experiences and to grow.

On the other hand: If you are really, really excited about school but just can’t get yourself up and out every day, there may be something else going on. If that’s the case, please make an appointment with your doctor for a complete medical check. If your body isn’t healthy, your mind won’t work as it should either. Sleep disorders can kill motivation and sap us of energy. Make sure you are getting eight hours of sleep regularly. Make sure you are eating right and getting a workout at least three days a week.

If that all checks out and you are still feeling stuck, you might want to look into what mental health services are available at your school. You don’t have to have a diagnosable psychiatric problem to benefit from some counseling. Sometimes a counselor can provide support and advice while you figure things out for yourself.

Please give yourself credit for recognizing that something is wrong and doing something about it. By acting now, you saved yourself years of feeling bad about yourself.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Nov 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Lacking Motivation. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/11/21/lacking-motivation-3/