If your motivation is waning it can help to revisit your values, set achievable goals, and seek support when needed.
We’ve all been through days where we feel “blah.” On those days, you just don’t feel like doing anything — and it can be hard to even get out of bed, let alone reach for your goals.
Although waning motivation can signal depression, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, it’s your mindset that leads to a lack of motivation. There are various practices you can adopt to change your mindset and find new motivation.
You might think it’s easy to know when you’ve lost your motivation — but the signs can be subtle. Some people label themselves or others “lazy” when they’re having genuine trouble with motivation.
People lose motivation at home and work for many reasons. You might be placing unrealistic expectations on yourself. If you live with perfectionism, you might become discouraged and lose motivation when you cannot complete a task perfectly.
Others become unmotivated because their life isn’t lining up with their values. If you aren’t finding a deeper meaning in what you do every day, it’s easy to lose motivation.
Some signs that you’re low on drive and motivation (and not just “lazy”!) include:
- You dread getting up every morning.
- You take much longer than anticipated to complete tasks.
- You miss deadlines or complete tasks at the last minute.
- You feel like you’re on auto-pilot; you’re doing what you need to, but you’re not excited about it.
- You have no new life goals; you’re simply getting through each day.
- You do the bare minimum, even though you think of yourself as a hard worker.
When you’re in the throes of low motivation, it can feel like nothing you do will raise your spirits. However, there are research-backed ways that you can give your motivation a boost and be your old self again.
Here are five tips for boosting motivation:
Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based counseling method created for people with alcohol use disorder. It helps people to increase their motivation for making a healthy change in life.
One of the basic principles of MI is “change talk,” which is any statement that supports making a change. MI practitioners help people determine their reasons for wanting to make a change — in other words, their “why.”
If you don’t have a “why,” then it’s hard to get motivated.
Consider asking yourself:
- What is my “why” for doing this task?
- How would my life be better if I were successful in it?
- Why is this task important to me?
- What’s the deeper reason for doing this task?
Keeping one eye on your deeper reasons for engaging with a task can make it easier to stay motivated and not get lost in the day-to-day details.
Another MI-based strategy is to take a good look at your deepest values. When your day-to-day life aligns with these values, then it may be easier to stay motivated.
If you don’t have a clear sense of what your values are, this is a great place to start. Some examples of common life values include:
After you’ve narrowed down your most important values, focus on how to build a life that’s in line with them. When your life is aligned with your values then motivation may come more naturally.
Certain therapy options, like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), can help you explore and live by your values.
It can be hard to become motivated when your goals are unrealistic. For example, if you have the goal of becoming a millionaire, but you don’t make enough money at your current job, then it may be hard to be motivated to continue working hard day after day.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll never become a millionaire, but you find your motivation waning on your way there.
On top of long-term goals, set smaller, more achievable goals as well. Using the example above, you could set the goal of saving and investing a set amount each month. Being able to achieve this goal month-by-month could help you to stay motivated for your more long-term goals.
If you tend toward perfectionism, you may become easily discouraged and lose motivation every time you make a mistake. If this resonates with you, then adopting a
A growth mindset focuses on your brain’s ability to learn new skills rather than believing that these abilities are present at birth.
For example, you’re learning to play a new instrument and you can’t quite get it right. If you think, “I just don’t have a natural talent for music” (a fixed mindset), then it could be hard to stay motivated to continue practicing.
But if instead, you think, “I am not good yet, but with practice, I’ll get better and better” (a growth mindset), then you may feel more motivated.
Lastly, it’s important to consider whether your lack of motivation may signal a mental health condition.
Various conditions can involve low energy or a lack of motivation, including major depressive disorder, where you experience an overall lack of interest in activities, even those you used to enjoy.
If your lack of motivation that’s lasted for over 2 weeks it may be a good idea to speak with a mental health professional. Depression can be a chronic condition but treatments, such as therapy and medication, are proven to help.
Looking for a therapist, but not sure where to start? Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help.
A lack of motivation could be caused by many things, including depression and a lack of alignment between your life values and your day-to-day activities. It can help to find your “why,” set smaller goals, and adopt a growth mindset. Mental health treatment may help when a lack of motivation is getting in the way of your well-being.