8 Reasons You Lack Motivation — and How to Fix it

Don’t let them kill your dreams.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash
Motivation is like a campfire. You need 3 components to reap its full rewards: the matches that get the fire started, the wood that keeps the fire going and the heat to roast your marshmallows.

If you have been struggling with motivation lately, you have to take a comprehensive look at your campfire. There could be a problem with your matches, your wood or the campfire environment. Or even worse: you might have been throwing water on your campfire the entire time!

Use this checklist to identify what is killing your campfire and understand how to fix it.

1. You lack a strong reason WHY.

The Symptoms:

You might not be admitting it to yourself, but you are actually not really interested in doing this thing. Whether it is a goal you set for yourself like running a marathon or completing a project at work, you kind of CBA (can’t be asked). Deep down, you either just don’t see the point or the reward is just not attractive enough for you.

The Cure:

There is two options in dealing with this brutal motivation killer:

  • Don’t do it: Stop lying to yourself and just quit. It will do yourself — and potentially other people — a huge favour. You don’t give a f*ck about it anyway.
  • Find a strong WHY under the surface: If you can’t quit — because it is part of your job or you don’t want to break a promise or ________________ (fill in the blank with your custom excuse), you need to find a way to think differently about it. If you think long enough, you can find some kind of value in almost anything. It might not be directly associated with it, but it could serve a deeper purpose. Here is some examples: I don’t see the point in doing this, but it will make my partner happy (and I care deeply about my partner!). Eating healthy will increase my focus and productivity at work (and I care about my work more than I care about burgers). This project is boring but doing well on it will show my boss that I can get my hands dirty (and that will build my reputation at work and I care about that!).

2. Your goal is overwhelming you.

The Symptoms:

When you think or talk about your thing, your mind is commenting with a big “arghhhh”. You are dreading this thing so much. It feels like a big monster that you don’t even know where to attack first. And you can’t see yourself ever bringing it down — it is just too big! As a result, you procrastinate on getting started because you are dreading it too much.

The Cure:

Some might say “just start SOMEWHERE”. But this is probably the worst advice I ever heard when it comes to dealing with overwhelm.

Here is what is actually effective: Break it down! Look the monster in the eye and break it down in parts. Identify its legs, its head, its arms and belly. Then, put a structure around it — line the parts up as chronological steps or categorise them according to topics. Within your chunks, draft a rough overview as well. And then, make a rough project timeline and identify the first chunk to get started with and within the first chunk, the very first action. By looking the monster in the eye and analysing it, you no longer see it as this abstract scary fury thing. Instead, you see it as a — still — challenging opponent, but one you can conquer — if you are strategic about it.


3. You don’t believe in yourself.

The Symptoms:

You kind of want to do this thing, but deep down you really don’t believe you can do it. And it is wreaking havoc on your motivation because the voice in your head keeps telling you “Why are you even trying? You won’t get there anyway…”.

The Cure:

For a quick fix: Look at your past achievements and remind yourself that you managed to do achieve very challenging goals before and at that time you weren’t so sure about yourself either. Thus, you CAN tackle this one now as well!

To fix this issue for good: Identify your limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones. Limiting beliefs are subconscious thought patterns that guide your actions and decisions. Most of these self-limiting beliefs were created in your childhood or teenage years and are still largely determining how you think of yourself. But since those beliefs have been programmed into your subconscious mind, they guide your decisions and actions without you even noticing. In order to achieve big, bold goals, you need to upgrade your mindset with a new set of empowering beliefs that will get you the necessary confidence to take on your goals.

If limiting beliefs is a completely new concept to you, check out my Self-Coaching Workbook that guides you through a step-by-step process to understand, identify and transform your self-limiting beliefs.


4. You are simply exhausted.

The Symptoms:

There is so much going on in your life. So many things to do. So many things to take care of. You are stressed out at best and burnt out at worst. Hence, you completely lost your willingness to do this thing — even if you really want to do it. When everything else is taking up your physical and mental energy, there is simply none left to spark the fire and push hard on your goal.

The Cure:

Free up physical and mental energy and reprioritise! Rest, de-stress and sleep enough to recharge your batteries. Say “no” to things that are less important than your goal. Clear your mind with meditation and journaling. Maybe you even need to do a full life detox to free up the necessary space in your life. I wrote about it here:


5. You suffer from the fear disease

The Symptoms:

Your fear is subconsciously holding you back from gathering the motivation to get started. Deep down, you are afraid to fail or embarrass yourself, you are scared of the unknown or you are even afraid of success. And thus, you are suffering from one or more of these fear disease symptoms: procrastination, anxiety, resistance and excessive worrying.

The Cure:

Get clear about what you are afraid of, how it is holding you back and how this fear shows up in your life (aka the symptoms). Understanding this is the basis for coming up with a specific strategy to deal with your fear.

I wrote about 4 common fears and how I dealt with them here:


6. Your unhealthy lifestyle is taking a toll

The Symptoms:

You feel sluggish and constantly tired. You suffer from chronic physical pain (most likely digestive issues, back pain or headaches). You experience brain fog and have trouble focusing.

The Cure:

Fix your unhealthy lifestyle and your motivation problem (and much much more) will take care of itself. Here are some good guidelines to get you started:

  • Sleep 8hrs every night
  • Sweat every day: Even if it is just for 15min.
  • Start your day with a healthy breakfast: This will make it easier to opt for healthy choices later in the day as well.
  • Eat mindfully: If you eat, JUST eat. Don’t watch TV or try to reply to emails. Focus on the taste of the food in your mouth and enjoy every little bite. Take a break halfway through and ask yourself whether you are still hungry. And if not, stop eating. This habit might even make you loose some weight — effortlessly.
  • Eat well: Opt for fresh, healthy, unprocessed and nourishing food. Cut out gluten, dairy and processed foods if you are having digestive issues.
  • Limit your intake of stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
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7. You set your goals too small or too big

The Symptoms:

You are doing one of both of these things: 1. You set your goals so small that they fail to inspire you to get out of our comfort zone or 2. you set them so high that you don’t even know how to tackle them and lack the confidence to do so (see 2 and 3).

The Cure:

Both ends of the spectrum are equally bad for your motivation and morale. Yes, dream big — dream so big it scares you. And yes, 10x your goals to force yourself to come up with out-of-the-box approaches. But please, set your actual weekly goals in a do-able, yet challenging way. Your motivation will thank you!


8. You are impatient

The Symptoms:

You are kind of demotivated because you thought you’d be there by now. You wouldn’t have thought that achieving your goal would take so long. And it is seriously demotivating you. You might even be playing with the idea of quitting because you are so impatient.

The Cure:

Understand that good things take time. This sounds cliché, but seriously: you need to change how you think about this! Focus on the progress and enjoy the journey, because it is as much as a reward as achieving your goal. Furthermore, celebrate little milestones along the way and reward yourself for your efforts. This will keep your morale up and your impatience at bay.


DID I MISS ANYTHING?

What are your personal campfire killers and how do you deal with them? Would love to hear about it in the comments!


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