Why do you lose motivation?

It happens more than one would like to admit, but why does it happen in the first place?

Desperate evicted male entrepreneur standing near window
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Let me run a scenario by you:

You start your day feeling powerful and believing you will be able to reach every single goal you set out. However, sometime later, you start feeling drained, not only mentally but also physically. You feel like not even a strong cup of coffee or that Spotify motivation playlist can help you out today. It’s challenging to get back to the excitement and energy levels you felt at the beginning of the day. Even your conquerable goals are starting to lose their purpose. You conclude that it’s just better to call it quits and try again tomorrow… Only for the same thing to happen again on the next day.

I would guess this is something that has happened to you on more than one occasion.

Feeling motivated is human…

Before we dive deep into this problem, it’s crucial first to understand that, as humans, we want to feel motivated. It’s part of our biology. Our brains have something called “the seeking system.” (Dan Cable, 2018) It is responsible for creating the natural impulses that make you want to pursue new skills and challenges. We are wired in a way that, when we follow these impulses, our brains receive a jolt of dopamine, which makes us want to continue what we were doing. This means that when we activate our seeking systems, we can feel more motivated to continue learning or creating new things.

… But so it’s losing it.

Like I’ve mentioned before with the initial scenario: we’ve all suffered from a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, loss of motivation that makes us tiresome and without the energy to continue. This is normal and, not only that, it’s once again, part of our biology as well. That feeling of shutting down is your body’s way of telling us that we should be doing other things (Dan Cable, 2018). It’s part of our subconscious mind to let us know that our potential is not being matched or challenged. Therefore, losing motivation is just an instructional command from our own bodies, alerting us that something needs change.

What causes a lack of motivation?

Motivation is the driving force that allows someone to complete their goals. And the main reason why people are motivated or not to achieve these goals in the first place is directly correlated to how they see themselves within those goals.

Different people tend to have different relationships with their goals, which makes it even harder to associate one general cause to loss of motivation. There can be many reasons why you might be experiencing a lack of motivation at some point. Regardless, if this happens, it’s crucial to properly analyze your feelings and that connection to the goal in question, so it will be easier to understand the cause and so something about it. Below it’s list of some of the causes that might be causing your own loss of motivation:

#1 Not Having Self Value

If you consider yourself someone with a negative mindset, this could be the reason why you’re feeling unmotivated. Often, people do not complete tasks simply because they think they don’t deserve the benefits of completing those tasks (Dr. Richard Toney, December 30, 2020). And they will use any excuse to not finish it or move forward.

If you feel, deep down, like you don’t deserve any possible accomplishments of a finished task, it’s only natural that, subconsciously, you will start to psych yourself out and not complete the task. You will even begin to convince yourself that the task was not going to be completed anyway. These thoughts and feelings are incredibly harmful because they will cause you not to feel worthy of accomplishing that or any other task in the future. They will prevent you to ever take a step towards the “next level” and grow.

The reality is that this type of mindset can be hard to motivate and to continue to do so. But since the lack of motivation comes from insecurity, confidence needs to play a significant role in keeping you moving towards your goals. Confidence in yourself and your skills and that you are actually worthy of any and all benefits that will come from moving forward.

#2 Not Strong Enough Purpose

Most people have some idea as to why they’re doing or want to do a particular task. Often, however, the answer to the “why?” is just not strong or emotional enough to keep them going. This is frequently a big reason as to why one might lose motivation to continue doing something.

It’s important to understand that motivation by itself can only take you so far. It can feel great getting that initial rush when you start something new, but there must be a sense of purpose to keep going. And if the purpose is strong enough, then the motivation will automatically follow you. Basically, the purpose is the fuel that will carry you to the finish line — so make sure you have a great fuel to start with.

#3 Feeling Scared And Overwhelmed About The Future

There’s also a genuine possibility that you are simply too scared of what’s to come after you finish a task or reach a goal. People tend to have many “what if”’s in their minds that will actually prevent them from accomplishing anything. The uncertainty of the future can be a massive debilitating factor, making a person feeling scared and overwhelmed, which leads to a lack of motivation.

It doesn’t take much for us to feel these emotions at some level. But, regardless of if it’s a subtle presence or a booming one, just the fact that you might feel these emotions can be the perfect sabotage for your motivation. In this case, breaking your ambitious goals into smaller steps and focusing your attention on the current one will make it so much easier to keep moving forward without being afraid or overwhelmed by what’s to come.

#4 Having Too Many Tasks

People always tend to take on more tasks that they possibly can handle. And when someone has too many projects or tasks going on, there is a great tendency to procrastinate, which obviously leads to a lack of motivation.

If you have an endless to-do list, you might start feeling disheartening and might even lose hope of ever finishing it. Not only that but with so many tasks ahead, you will start losing focus and not see clearly the path you are supposed to take. And when you eventually admit defeat, all motivation will automatically disappear and might even not return any time soon.

To avoid any of this from happening, you need to be honest with yourself when dealing with your to-do list. Take an in-depth look at it and figure out what needs to be changed by either asking for help or just deleting a particular task, so you can start feeling motivated to tackle your list again. And don’t let pride get in the way.

#5 It Has Become A Habit

Habits can be hard to create, but they can be even harder to break. However, a habit of regularly not completing tasks can lead to a fast loss of motivation. This leads to stagnation and lack of growth, which it’s detrimental to a person’s success and ability to move forward.

The main problem is, when you create a habit of not moving forward, your mind will actually being to be comfortable with the situation (Dr. Richard Toney, December 30, 2020). Although you might think you are okay with the situation, you need to remember why you set those tasks and goals in the first place. Chances are that those tasks and goals exist because you wanted to change and move forward at some point in time. Simply put, you can’t get to the next level if you are okay where you are now.

#6 Lack Of Patience And Persistence

In the current world, we are always looking for instant results. We lack patience, which can lead to a lack of persistence and, therefore, action. This can kill your motivation to do a specific task or even achieve the finish line quicker than you’d realize.

If you feel like you tend to have this mindset, you need to start value consistency over intensity. If you are consistently taking action, regardless of size, motivation will follow you. Unfortunately, it will take time until you start seeing the results you want, but quitting only means you will never see those at all. Even if in today’s world doesn’t feel like it, results still take time.

Motivation is an ongoing process

“Motivation doesn’t last forever. But for that matter, neither does bathing. That’s why it is recommended daily”. — Zig Ziglar

Don’t let the fact that you, for some reason, lost motivation take over your day and life. We have the power and ability to change that situation. However, we can’t take motivation for granted; it’s something we need to work on every day. If you found a reason to be motivated today, you will need to do the same tomorrow and so on. And if you lack motivation one day, you’ll need to change something on the next one.

But keep in mind that it’s ok to not feel motivated once in a while, and you might need to slow down for a moment. The important thing is to be honest with yourself and be in touch with your feelings while not letting your goals and purpose out of your mind.

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Filipa Amado

Filipa Amado

Designer that likes to write about Product Management and Productivity.