Do you ever feel a lack of motivation to do something, anything in life? No matter what your answer is, know that feeling uninspired is completely normal and natural. On top of that, motivation is an intangible belief.

Here’s what you need to understand about this behavior to feel inspired again:

The good news is that you can improve this abstract belief by redefining it. And grasping its mechanisms to use it to your advantage.

How to Overcome a Lack of Motivation: 5 Simple Steps

Getting unstuck may sound like moving a giant boulder, but the possibility of it is there. Creators of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest, Jon and Missy Butcher, share five simple ways to overcome a lack of motivation when it strikes you.

1. Go all the way to find your purpose

They put it simply: if you have a strong reason to do it, you will, no matter what. When you experience a lack of motivation, then maybe your purpose isn’t strong enough.

In this case, Jon and Missy advise you to really go inside and find that reason that lights something in you. This is the cleansing of the soul you need, and after you find it, you’ll just going to build on it more and more.

During the Quest, they talk about the 12 life categories. It’s relevant to motivation because when you can’t find the purpose in one category, going through all of them might reveal it in another.

For example, if you want to have a fit and healthy body, your appearance might not be a strong enough reason. But if you think that you’d like to be healthy so you can be there and take care of your kids and family, then the motivation may increase.

2. Separate yourself from your emotions

Whenever you feel a lack of motivation, there may be various emotions coming up, like guilt, shame, sadness, or apathy. When this happens, it helps to practice separating yourself from your emotions.

Oftentimes, you might get so caught up in your feelings that you don’t realize how much control you actually have. And that doesn’t mean repressing your emotions.

As Jon and Missy explain, it means that once you observe you are not your emotions, there is more space within you. And in that space, you can choose to do something that would make you feel better and power your motivation.

Meditation is one of the best tools out there to practice observing your inner world.

Jon and Missy Butcher, trainers of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest

3. Take action so the list gets shorter

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out is a common reason for feeling unmotivated. But the thing is that you may often try to get everything done on the same day.

Focusing on one task at a time will decrease your overall stress. As Jon explains, you take something from the mountain that is in front of you, and you put it behind you. And little by little, the mountain will grow behind your back and you’ll have a clearer way ahead.

Additionally, when you achieve a small task and feel proud of yourself, this feeling could motivate you to be more productive. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it all; it just means that every day you can get a little better.

If you go to sleep one molecule better than when you woke up, you’re going in the right direction, so that allows you to feel good about where you are right now.

— Jon Butcher, trainer of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest

4. Prioritize what’s most important to you

You may not find the motivation to work on all 12 categories in one day. That’s why it’s essential to prioritize the most important things for you right now.

And when you write down your to-do lists, you’ll know for sure what is the main focus for that day. Therefore, you do everything you can to make it happen and know that the rest is important but maybe not essential for that present moment.

5. Take care of your body

Jon and Missy emphasize the importance of taking proper care of your body. Because your body, mind, spirit, emotions, and motivation are all connected.

So the stronger you can keep your physiology, the more motivated you will feel. Having a healthy, nutritious diet, a regular workout routine, and a proper sleep schedule will lay down the foundation for nurturing motivation.

And from there on, you can start building the life you desire to live.

Jon and Missy Butcher on a lack of motivation
Jon and Missy Butcher, trainers of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest

What Is Motivation?

The reason (whether consciously or unconsciously) a person acts a certain way — that’s the essence of motivation. And the building blocks of it that lead to action are “needs,” “values,” and “goals.”

Psychology found two main types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. This paper published by the University of Rochester defines them in this way:

  • Extrinsic motivation refers to “doing something because it leads to a separable outcome.” 
  • Intrinsic motivation means pursuing an activity or goal because “it is inherently interesting and enjoyable.” 

It is the driving force behind a person’s actions and often inspires them to keep going when the going gets tough. 

A motivated vs. unmotivated person

Motivation can spark up your life and make everything better, more intense, and more enjoyable. Here’s how a motivated person looks, acts, and thinks compared to an unmotivated person.

Motivated person Unmotivated person
Full of energy Feeling stuck
Positive thinking Self-destructive thoughts
Healthy habits Tendency to self-sabotage
Moments of inspiration Repeated moments of laziness
Setting goals Having no perspective on the future

You can look out for these signs to see in which category you most often find yourself to be.

Lack of motivation

What Causes a Lack of Motivation?

It’s not as simple as Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It.” There could be multiple underlying causes for the lack of motivation. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Stress. Studies suggest that being stressed has a direct effect on motivated behaviors in people. 
  • Only doing things for other people. When you enter a pattern of constantly putting other people’s needs before your own, you may find sooner or later that a lack of energy and motivation has taken over you.
  • Feeling burnt out. If you’ve been feeling a lack of motivation at work, maybe you reached a point of being burnt out. In this case, you may want to cut down on your tasks, take some time off, or manage a way to find a better work-life balance.
  • Lack of activities that interest you. Remember when you were a child and your only tasks were to play outside with your friends, read comic books, or build blanket forts and sandcastles? Were you feeling unmotivated back then? You may have been caught in a mundane routine and forgot to make some space in your life to do enjoyable activities. 
  • Poor lifestyle habits. Simple things like going to bed late, eating too much sugar and processed foods, or living a sedentary lifestyle might hinder your motivation. Because when your body is strong and healthy, you’ll surprise yourself with how much energy you have to accomplish the things you want.

When someone admits they have a lack of motivation to do something, the majority of people perceive it as just an excuse. Society often automatically ties having a lack of motivation to do something with just being plain flat-out lazy.

This is because we have been conditioned by the media, peers, and society to believe that if someone wants something, they just have to rile themselves up, set some goals, and work hard to accomplish them. It’s not always that easy.

On mental illness

Having issues with mental health can play a huge part in why one feels unmotivated.

Imagine being a person trying to find work but they have an overbearing amount of toxic shame left over from their childhood traumas. They want to apply for their dream job, but their head is flooded with thoughts of “I am unlovable, I can’t do anything right,” or I don’t deserve good things. They become paralyzed, leaving them with no interest in trying or starting to accomplish something.

Or a person who grew up with incredibly successful parents. They believe that anything they do would never amount to what their parents have done, and so they are scared to start anything. There’s shame and disappointment that comes along with it and therefore, they feel uninterested in even trying.

Some studies show how a lack of motivation can be linked to:

  • Depression. This article published in 2013 suggests that “among the characteristic features of depression is a diminishment in or lack of action and motivation.” Depression affects one’s ability to function on a daily basis, therefore, to have the energy to work on their goals.
  • ADHD. The 2018 article published in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review shows evidence that “youth with ADHD have lower academic-related motivation in comparison to their peers.” However, even though the existent studies prove this matter, there isn’t sufficient research done in the field.

Mental illness impacts all areas of life, not just how motivated people feel. So, besides self-help strategies to increase motivation, when dealing with mental health issues, professional help is also required.

Lack of motivation

Great Change Starts With You

Motivation isn’t so easy to find all the time, but once you do, it opens up the way to make your dreams come true. 

And some guidance along the way has never hurt anybody. Here’s where Mindvalley comes into play. 

With powerful transformational Quests, such as Lifebook, you can find more clarity on all aspects of your dream life and define the steps to make it happen. 

If you’re curious to get a taste of Jon and Missy Butcher’s wisdom, you can check out the free Lifebook Online Masterclass and have a glimpse of how your life can be transformed.

Additionally, you can keep your motivation running high by surrounding yourself with a supportive community that may share the same goals and struggles as you do. 

So yes, finding motivation may be difficult. But you don’t have to do it all alone.

Welcome in.

Alexandra Tudor – Mindvalley Writer

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