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Unmotivated: 5 Reasons Why You're Feeling this Way

October 13, 2020
3 Min Read
Photo by
Kunal Krishna

We've all felt unmotivated at some point or another. And while these feelings are normal, it's important to pause and figure out the root cause of your lack of motivation.

But before we dive in, check out our comprehensive guide on the do’s and don’ts of building resilience and how to use this skill to become the best version of you!

What does being motivated look like?

When we think about motivation in a work environment, we tend to think of individuals who are persistent, inspirational, accountable, enthusiastic, and willing to go the extra mile. But many of us have little idea of how to boost or sustain that level of motivation within ourselves.

An unmotivated state of mind can be caused by seemingly innocuous, but impactful actions. The most common ones to look out for are:

  • Stress
  • Over-sleeping or lack of sleep
  • Unclear goals and priorities
  • Sedentary activities like watching TV or scrolling through social media (especially in the morning)
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Procrastination

Why we might feel unmotivated

When motivation is low, procrastination is looking for its way to creep in. Contrary to the stern saying "just be disciplined" and Nike's slogan, "Just Do It," that advice can only take us so far. To combat the feeling of being unmotivated, we need to get to the core of the issue.  

❌ Having a negative outlook.  Your outlook on life can play a huge factor in dampen your motivation. According to Harvard Business Review, our outlook can negatively impact motivation and productivity. When you start to feel unmotivated, focus on reframing your thought process. List and remind yourself the positive aspects of your day.

It can feel really discouraging at times to feel unmotivated, but remember that you are in control of your feelings and motivation. (Illustration by Sofy Dubinska)

🧐  Forgetting the long-term visualization of benefits. It's easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by a big project. You start thinking of the long days, workload, and forget to think of the long-term benefits, which is an essential element in motivation. Every time you don’t feel motivated, visualize the rewards that you're achieving. Celebrate your small wins often, so you know rewards and benefits are not that far away from you.

🏔️ Setting unrealistic goals. We all love to set ambitious goals, but this comes at a price. While having stretched-goals keeps you challenged, over-stretched goals are counterproductive. Instead, focus on mini-goals. Break down your big projects into smaller challenges where you can see results in a much shorter space of time. This mindset will give you much more motivation and help you see a project through to the end.

Not using your time wisely. Time is the one thing we can never get back. If you feel like you are always running out of time, no wonder you feel unmotivated! Get your goals clear. Basics first: Are the stated goals specific and measurable enough that we can track progress and evaluate success? Have you identified leading indicators that will give an early warning when you're off track, allowing for course correction? Don't forget: Luck is for the prepared.

Motivation and you

At the end of the day, make sure you don’t have too many goals. We’ve all seen organizations and individuals sign up for a laundry list of goals. Whenever you’re in a planning session and a person says, “And another thing we’re going to accomplish is...” a little red flag should pop up. Strategy and motivation is as much about saying no as it is about saying yes.

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