A young woman lays on her stomach on her bed, holding a cup of coffee in her hands; photo via Samantha Gades/Unsplash
Health + Wellness

Practical Tips to Help Overcome Lack of Motivation

It’s common for everyone to experience a lack of motivation from time to time. Identifying its source can occasionally be difficult as many factors influence its onset, such as stress, fatigue and changes in daily routine. No matter what may trigger these bouts of discouragement, being kind to ourselves as we take steps to re-energize and refocus is essential.

Motivation is important in life because it helps us set and achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and maintain a positive outlook. It can provide the drive needed to pursue success, happiness and personal fulfillment — clearly occupying a rather considerable role in our day-to-day lives. It therefore makes sense that improving our ability to sustain and/or rebuild motivation is a valuable life skill we should nurture.

It’s clear that retaining a balanced and durable sense of enthusiasm and determination is intricately linked to our general mental health and emotional well-being. There may even be times when a lack of energy and motivation significantly impacts our ability to function and/or enjoy life; if this is happening, prioritizing our mental health and seeking support is recommended. Under these circumstances, professional help from a therapist or counselor can assist with identifying any underlying issues and help develop strategies to overcome them.


The Different Types of Motivation

There are two primary types of motivation that we typically experience; intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) — both of which can be set in motion in a variety of ways.

Intrinsic motivation comes from engaging with a behaviour or activity that provides satisfaction, enjoyment, and a sense of challenge or mastery. Characterized by feelings of gratification and purpose, intrinsic motivation reflects our personal interests, values and beliefs. Examples include:

  • Experiencing pleasure through pursuing a hobby or passion.
  • Individual goal setting to achieve self-improvement.
  • Seeking knowledge or learning for its own sake.
  • Finding satisfaction in completing a task or project for its inherent value.
  • Gaining a sense of accomplishment from overcoming a challenge.
  • Enjoying the process of creating or producing something without external rewards.
  • Forming and/or spreading a positive attitude within ourselves or others.

Extrinsic motivation refers to a desire to perform a task or elicit a behaviour for rewards, validation, or avoiding pressure. It can be gained from things like money, praise, personal advancement or evading punishment. Examples include:

  • External pressure or expectations from others; seeking social acceptance.
  • Recognition, praise or incentives based on the outcomes of a task, not the task itself.
  • Being in competition with others.
  • Promotions or career advancement, including financial rewards.
  • Fear of punishment, rejection or consequences.

Reasons Why You May Be Losing Motivation

It probably comes as no surprise to all of us that life is full of ups and downs; there is a perpetual cycle of change and adaptability we need to grasp and make sense of. Although it may not feel like it at the time, some experiences and challenges encourage us to grow and develop as individuals. Adapting to these changes is important because it allows us to learn, become more resilient, and ultimately lead more fulfilling lives. 

However, it is completely understandable — and normal — to lose motivation in life. This can happen when we feel overwhelmed, lack a clear sense of purpose, experience failure or setbacks or struggle with mental health issues, for example. Lack of motivation can also be caused by:

  • Feeling unappreciated or undervalued.
  • Experiencing negative or toxic situations and people.
  • Lack of support or resources to accomplish goals.
  • Burnout from working too much or too hard; difficulty balancing work and personal life.
  • Health issues, fatigue or personal stress.
  • Periods of time where there is an absence of challenge or stimulation; feeling stagnant or stuck in some way.
  • Fear of failure or making mistakes.
Handwritten on a ripped piece of thick, white paper are the words, ‘I have no motivation today what-so-ever’.
photo via Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Ways To Overcome Lack of Motivation

Discovering what keeps us stimulated, interested and inspired should not become conflated with the idea that we constantly need to be productive — which we don’t. While keeping busy does fall within intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, reigniting what sparks joy and brings value to our lives is not solely about pushing for productivity — it’s important we remember that distinction.

Depending on personal circumstances and what caused the physical and/or emotional dip in energy; giving ourselves a boost can involve a number of different behaviours or activities. Here are 10 things to try out that may improve your motivation:

  • Surround yourself with positive and supportive people; find inspiration from role models or successful individuals.
  • Stay accountable by sharing your goals and progress with others.
  • Break down your goals, activities or routines into realistic, achievable steps; start small and build momentum gradually.
  • Change your environment to stimulate creativity and inspiration; eliminate distractions and establish an area conducive to work or relaxation.
  • Reward yourself for progress and accomplishments; celebrate small wins along the way.
  • Practice meditation to clear your mind.
  • Practice self-care and prioritize your well-being.
  • Take breaks and allow yourself to rest to avoid burnout; exercise regularly.
  • Identify and overcome any limiting beliefs or negative self-talk; use positive affirmations to boost your confidence and motivation.
  • Be patient and persistent, and remember that success is a journey, not a destination

In Summary

Healthy motivation is an essential driving force behind our actions; without it we may struggle to take the necessary steps to accomplish things that bring us joy and provide meaning to our day. Taking care of our well-being is directly connected to nourishing what supports our desire to achieve goals or seek out contentment. Whatever our aspirations may be rooted in, working towards them or overcoming obstacles requires an understanding of how motivation works for us as individuals. 

Once we have figured out what underpins our motivation, we can begin to recognize and better accept there will be times when it fluctuates. Various factors such as stress, burnout or external circumstances beyond our control can all negatively impact our energy; taking care of what motivates us requires ongoing attention and effort. Being present and fully engaged in the current moment; paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations can help improve how we identify when to give ourselves a much needed (and deserved) boost. 

How do you keep yourself motivated? What encourages you to find joy or achieve your goals?

Further Info:

10 Minute Mindfulness Meditation | Be Present – Calm

NAMI Helpline – a free, nationwide U.S. resource that offers experienced peer-support guidance and advice

CheckPoint – global (by country) resources for mental health support

Safe In Our World – a list of global (by country) LGBTQ+ mental health resources and support

50 thoughts on “Practical Tips to Help Overcome Lack of Motivation”

  1. I agree on all points with you, Molly. Sometimes circumstances push us to move forward. We need to constantly motivate ourselves using the methods you have mentioned to grow in life.


  2. These are really great tips! I have to say for me it’s winter darkness and rainy weather. This year it just doesn’t let up! I’m hoping it gets better soon but these days I really have to push myself out of bed. yoga helps, going to the gym help, cooking nice meals helps too :). Thank you for sharing this!


    1. I can imagine that the change in seasons or particularly rainy/dark days can have an impact on motivation; I know people with Seasonal Affective Disorder and it can be very disruptive. Doing yoga sounds great and is a useful tip to share — thanks!


  3. I love these tips! Especially sharing your goals with others to hold yourself accountable is such a good way to keep on track. It can also add unnecessary pressure though, so I think it depends on what it is exactly.

    Lots of love,
    Krissi of the marquise diamond


    1. Telling the right people who understand how goals need to be flexible s key (things change and stuff happens); but you’re right, doing this can add pressure. If this happens this is a sign to reassess what the goal is and if it’s been broken down into smaller, more achievable steps (which can alleviate some of that pressure) and to refocus. Thank you so much for this comment!


  4. Excellent advice! It’s never a good sign when your motivation wanes. That’s why it’s so crucial to surround ourselves with upbeat and encouraging people who have our backs.


    1. It can be a sign of something deeper going on that needs to be addressed so it’s always a good idea to listen to what our minds/bodies and make sure we care for ourselves — which can definitely be done with good people in our lives. Thanks so much for commenting!


  5. Really good post because I think this is something most people will have felt at some point, if not on a regular basis! I’ve found motivation to be an issue since I developed health problems, and I totally agree with the power of rewards, things to look forward to, regular breaks, celebrating the smallest of wins and achievements. I feel a little more inspired & motivated just reading this so sometimes it just takes someone else giving you the jump start you need!

    Caz xx


  6. I’d never stopped to consider there are two types of motivation. This was a really useful post, lots of takeaways. You’re absolutely right, identifying what underpins our motivation is the first step to understanding why it may dip from time to time, and what we can do to manage that better.


    1. I had no idea there were two types until fairly recently, and that they can sometimes work against each other. Understanding why we may be struggling with lack of motivation is a great way to pinpoint what we can do to support ourselves through it.


  7. Oh, this was a nice post to read. I’m currently stuck between being stagnant and a but on the burnout too, as I push to find motivation that sometimes I can’t find. I try, now, not to look too much at the past day in case something didn’t go as planned, but to focus more on the present and actually focus on the current day. I know that maybe I won’t artchive everything, but something and I’ll archive.

    I created a little routine, that seems strict, but also allow me to be efficient at my best while also inserting little breaks and nice activity for myself


  8. Great post and really good advice. I think it’s important to remember that we all lose motivation sometimes and it IS normal. Beating ourselves up about it isn’t going to make it any better either, so sometimes you’ve just got to roll with it!


  9. This is fantastic advice! Sometimes I find it really hard to stay motivated so enjoy finding new ways that will help keep me going and get through. Sharing my goals is definitely one way I find helps me stay accountable because it’s out there for the world to see, so that seems to help me keep up with it all.


    1. I find it hard too and regularly experience bouts of waning motivation; these things definitely help me so I hope it proves useful to anyone going through the same. I love that you share your goals; this can be a great help!


  10. Wonderful tips! I hate going through stages of not feeling motivation to do anything, while it is completely healthy to take breaks from time to time (should remind myself more). I love the part about celebrating small wins and self care – absolutely enjoy painting my nails and applying face masks when I’m too lazy to move, haha. Thanks for sharing!


  11. These are all amazing tips! It’s really hard sometimes and having someone positive beside you reminding you that is normal it’s really important! Meditation and yoga really helped me!


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