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Why You Lost Your Motivation and How to Get It Back


 Motivation is the basis for creativity and productivity. It is the key to moving forward and feeling involved, powerful, and purposeful. But what happens when you run out of this main ingredient? Everyone felt a decline in motivation in certain points of life. The stillness and uncertainty brought by the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown, and social distancing are certain triggers for demotivation for many.

When you say you feel unmotivated you often hear generalized tips such as push harder or make a to-do list. But the truth is, lack of motivation stems from a different reason for everyone and it is important to get to the “why” in order to figure out how to get through it. We have listed some common reasons for lack of motivation along with the methods you can use to deal with it once you recognize the cause.

1. You Set the Wrong Goals

Why You Lost Your Motivation & How to Get It Back man riding bike wrong direction

Your lack of motivation could stem from not being completely at peace with the goals you have set for yourself. The way some mental health experts explain it is this - every person has an Essential Self and a Social Self. The Essential Self is the part of us that is spontaneous, playful, and creative, the part that knows what really is important to you. The Social self, on the other hand, is the part of us that is acutely aware of the rules of society and is keeping us safe by making us follow those rules in order to be accepted by our peers. 

Sometimes you may feel unmotivated because the goals you’ve set for yourself are based purely on what your Social Self wants, meaning what you think might make others impressed or proud of you. Your Essential Self uses demotivation to signal to you that these goals are pulling you away from what you as an individual really want. 

What To Do About It?

Take some time to review your goals. Think of each one of them and visualize it. Take note of the way your body responds while you think about each goal - these reactions can teach you a lot about the way you truly feel. 

When your body, and particularly your breathing shows signs of tightness or constriction, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re following a goal that isn’t right for you. Notice what makes you smile spontaneously or lose track of time and set goals related to these things. It may be a process, but at the end of the day, to stop doing what you “should” or what is expected of you is the best way to get motivated again.

2. Lack of Clarity

Why You Lost Your Motivation & How to Get It Back confused man

When you’re not sure what exactly you want to create or achieve and your future is vague, getting motivated is near impossible. Humans like familiarity, we resist the unknown, so if you don’t know what it is that you want, you end up staying in your current, familiar situation. This may lead to a feeling of stagnation and a lack of motivation.

What To Do About It?

In order to overcome the fear of the unknown and the vagueness that is causing your lack of motivation, it isn’t enough to know what you don’t want. You need to articulate a specific vision of what you do want, be it in your career or personal life. Use visualization, and write it down - what you want to achieve and why you want it. Be as specific as possible. A goal like “I want a job I enjoy” is a good place to start, but it is still fuzzy and hard to translate into action. A statement like “I want to make a living being a photographer” is a positive step toward greater specificity. 

Remember, a small goal is better than no goal at all. You don’t have to turn your whole life around. If it is something that is important to you, it’ll reignite your motivation.

Related: Here’s a Simple Guide on How to Do Walking Meditation

3. Lack of Challenge

Why You Lost Your Motivation & How to Get It Back woman throwing her hands up

Challenge is an essential ingredient in motivation and self-realization, according to experts. People are ever-evolving creatures, at any age. We need challenges in order to master new skills. It’s important to remember there is a sweet spot to a being challenged - too great a challenge may create a fear barrier that will kill your motivation.

If the challenge is too easily conquered, we quickly get bored and lose our motivation again. Demotivation is a way for the Essential Self to signal to us that we are on a path that isn’t beneficial for us.

What To Do About It?

This will sound similar to the previous sections, but if you feel a lack of challenge is the root of your lack of motivation, it’s time to review your goals. Do they require effort from you that can lead to growth, or are they keeping you in your comfort zone, doing only the things that you already know you’re able to do? How can your goals be tweaked so they are more challenging and stimulating? Maybe you need a new project altogether to get out of the funk?

4. Grief

Why You Lost Your Motivation & How to Get It Back a woman comforting another woman

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is a significant and even traumatic life change. Confusion, self-doubt, and feeling lost are common symptoms of such an experience, and the bigger the change the more powerful these symptoms. It’s completely normal for your motivation to dry up while processing these emotions. 

What To Do About It?

If you are dealing with a recent loss and experience the moods and emotions listed above, don’t try to make yourself motivated or productive. Grief cannot be rushed, nor can the undoing of your old life and way of thinking. Look after your body with good food, rest, and spending time in nature. Express your grief, confusion, and fears with people you love and trust. Feeling a lack of motivation is completely natural in such situations.

The grief will end when you're ready, and if you relax into it and go easy on yourself, it’ll be sooner rather than later. 

Related: 10 Phrases to Avoid Saying to a Grieving Friend

5. Loneliness

Why You Lost Your Motivation & How to Get It Back girl looking out the window

This may ring true to many in these times of social distancing and working from home. Some days you may feel restless, and looking for any excuse not to work or go about other tasks you’ve set yourself for the day. All you want is to have a drink with a friend or at least a chat. Well, that is because humans are designed to be social creatures, and your Essential Self is longing for some connection with others. Hijacking your motivation is a way for your mind to tell you that it’s important that you take a break and spend some time with other people. 

What To Do About It?

It might sound counterintuitive, but if you feel like your motivation is squashed by loneliness, don’t scold yourself. Take a break and go spend some time with your friends or relatives. It can even be a phone or video call. You’ll be surprised at how much this break can motivate you once you go back to work. 

6. Burnout

Why You Lost Your Motivation & How to Get It Back woman asleep at her desk

If you’re feeling tired all the time, you have lost your energy for socializing and the idea of taking a nap sounds more appealing than anything else you’re usually interested in - these might be signs that you have pushed yourself too hard for too long and are you may be burned out.

Being an ambitious and active person is great, but we often want to get so much done we exceed the limit of what is sustainable. Remember your Essential Self will always push you towards your core needs, so if it saps your motivation from things you are usually ignited about because you need some sleep - it’s a good idea to listen. 

What To Do About It?

Sleep. As simple as that. Get the rest your body needs, and when you feel refreshed, check in with your Essential Self to understand what’s most important to you and how you can allocate your time sustainably. Your energy is limited, so it is important that you dedicate it to the things that you truly care about. 

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