Ever heard someone say they don’t do something because they have a lack of motivation?
Well, I hear it all the time.
It is actually a pretty common statement used to describe why people don’t do certain things.
In fact, you have probably said this phrase while feeling a lack of motivation to do something many times throughout your life.
Motivation is an intangible belief.
People often simply say and accept that they just have it or they don’t.
I’m here to tell you that you can indeed increase your motivation.
But how does one go about improving this abstract thing?
Not to worry, I’ll give you the low-down on how to improve your motivation when you are feeling uninspired.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly what motivation is, why it is so hard to get motivated, and how to fix a lack of motivation.
However, before I can get into how to fix a lack of motivation, we have to first define and understand what motivation actually is.
What Is Motivation?
Motivation, as defined by Dictionary.com, is the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way.
So, when a person says they have a lack of motivation, what they are really saying is that they do not have a good reason to do something.
If someone says they do not have a good reason to do something… then the obvious cure is just to find a good reason to do something!
Problem fixed, right?
It is actually a lot more complicated than that, and I’m going to dive into exactly why here.
Why Getting Motivated Is So Hard
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, our 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!
Our society loves hearing those stories.
Movies, news reports, and television shows are built around the premise of someone who worked hard and overcame all the odds to become successful.
It is a source of inspiration.
We adore hearing stories of the poor person scraping to get by, that puts in the effort and improves their living situation.
It gives us hope.
We believe that we can do the same if we just worked hard enough.
Our destiny is within our control.
We believe this because we are bombarded with this same message in every day of our lives.
Our society has conditioned us to believe that if someone is not where they want to be in life, it is probably because they are lazy or they do not want it enough.
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at the perception of homeless people in our society.
“Look at them, spending money on alcohol and cigarettes…why don’t they get off their butt, look for a job, and work like the rest of us!”
The general perception for homeless people in our society is that they are lazy and that they choose to be homeless.
Just like how homeless people are written off, people who say they have a lack of motivation are considered lazy.
What is lost from the equation is their context – or their circumstances.
It is easy to judge and label someone as lazy for not having the motivation to do something.
What is harder, is to understand why they do not have the motivation to get something done.
Maybe the person may not have the enthusiasm to get something done because there are other outside circumstances that act as a barrier to them not being able to do something.
Let’s empathize for a moment.
Do you really think homeless people are just lazy?
That they want to spend their limited money on cigarettes or alcohol instead of proper food or shelter?
Do you really think they have not tried to improve their living situation?
Step into their shoes
Here, how about this.
You try living on the streets for a few months.
Spend some time sleeping on the streets in the cold, not having a consistently accessible shower, hungry all of the time, and often stricken with disease.
Try applying and getting rejected from job after job… after job.
Then tell me that you wouldn’t resort to alcohol or cigarettes to help ease the burden of living on the streets.
Maybe it helps them warm up on some of those daily cold miserable nights.
Or maybe they are trying to self-medicate themselves because they suffer from a mental illness such as depression.
I don’t know.
I can only imagine how hard life is for them.
This works the same with having a lack of motivation. Outside barriers could include things such as shame, depression, past traumas, fear, negative expectations, etc.
Imagine being a person who is trying to find work but their childhood trauma produces an overbearing amount of toxic shame within them.
They want to apply and get their dream job, but their head is flooded with thoughts of “I am unlovable; I can’t do anything right; I don’t deserve good things…”
They become paralyzed.
This results in them having no interest in trying or starting to accomplish something.
Or a person who grew up with especially successful parents. They could believe that anything they did would never amount to what their parents have done, and so they are scared to start anything.
They feel a ton of shame and disappointment in themselves before they begin everything. Therefore they feel uninterested in even trying.
A Different Perspective
In other words, there is a lot that goes into a person lacking motivation and not having the will to work towards something.
Instead of simply labeling a person as lazy for saying they do not have the motivation to do something, be curious as to why they feel that way.
And remember there is no “one thing” that will explain all of this.
Humans are complex creatures.
If a person says they have a lack of motivation to do something, it is for a multitude of reasons.
Step into the other person’s shoes, empathize and try to see the world from their eyes.
It could be a culmination of unseen things unique to each person.
So, in place of judging a person for saying that they lack motivation… be curious.
Ask yourself: “what is their circumstance?”
Realize that the reason why attaining motivation is so hard is often because there are plenty of hidden barriers that cripple a person from being inspired to do what needs to be done.
How to Improve a Lack of Motivation
Now that I have gone over what motivation is and why it can be hard to improve your motivation, it is time to deliver on what I’ve promised.
Here is how to fix a lack of motivation.
I’ve tested and tried many different approaches to improving motivation.
From writing down goals, to motivational quotes, to watching motivational videos, to visualization exercises… and I’ve personally found that none of them seemed to consistently work.
Then, one day I unexpectedly stumbled upon a tactic to grow motivation that has worked for me time and time again. It has truly paid dividends for me getting work done ever since I discovered this trick.
Mark Manson, a New York Times best-selling author and prominent blogger, introduced on his blog a motivation increasing strategy called the “Do Something Principle”.
He theorizes that most people rely on emotional inspiration to give them the motivation to take a specific action.
The “Do Something Principle” is a strategy that overcomes the dilemma where we use negative emotions to take the actions we need in our lives… and it is those same negative emotions that hinder us from taking action.
Manson states that most people only commit to action if they feel a certain level of motivation. Further, that they only feel motivation when they feel an emotional inspiration.
He solves this predicament by reframing or reorienting how we think about getting inspiration.
The do something principle
The “Do Something Principle” entails taking the smallest step possible to work towards whatever you need to get done.
Subsequently, you then use the energy and inspiration you get from taking that first step to motivate yourself.
Usually, people may feel overwhelmed or paralyzed by the daunting idea of accomplishing a task or goal.
Taking the smallest step possible solves this problem.
Let me give you an example and show you what I mean.
I’m a writer and sometimes I have a lack of motivation or interest to write my articles. So, what I do is I promise myself to just write the first few sentences or even just the introduction to my article.
Most of the time, after writing the first few sentences or the introduction, I will become invigorated, engaged and enthusiastic about continuing to the other sections of the article.
Before I know it, I’ve written a large portion of my article and 3 or 4 hours have gone by!
This works for things such as going to the gym or starting a work project, as well. Locate and start the smallest step or task and you will start to get motivated to continue.
Tell yourself you would just start to outline or brainstorm how to complete the project and then see what happens.
The minimal action will inspire and supply you with a genuine motivation to continue.
You may also check out motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols, talk on how to successfully leverage your fears to use as fuel or inspiration for your passion.
On Mental Illness
As I mentioned earlier, there are a large number of reasons why you may have a lack of motivation. The “Do Something Principle” can help you get past the paralysis that comes from the thought of taking action.
It is an effective tactic, however, if you are struggling with depression or any mental health disorders — get help.
Lack of motivation can be a symptom of depression.
If you do not have any desire to get out of bed in the mornings and feel so depressed that you no longer feel like yourself, explore professional mental health services.
A great therapist or psychologist can help one cope with their feelings, reframe their thoughts, and change behaviors. You can work through any emotional baggage that may hamper your desire to be motivated.
I’ve been severely depressed before and I know how much the mental illness can consume you.
I checked myself into therapy, sought help from a therapist and overcame that dark period in my life. I am so grateful to have gone through a year of therapy as I learned a lot of important tools and strategies from my sessions.
My sincere hope is that everybody seeks professional counseling, even if they are not depressed. We all have emotional baggage or trauma we can work through.
There is a negative stigma in our society towards receiving mental health services but honestly, there is no shame in wanting to improve your life.
I wish that everybody learns the tools I have learned to counter the inner self-critic and to live a more emotionally healthy life.
There are many reasons for having a lack of motivation, and if it is due to a mental health problem, I would highly suggest pursuing professional help.
Time to Get Motivated!
There you have it.
The technique I have used to considerable success to fix a lack of motivation.
I hope you learned a lot about what motivation is, why it is so hard to get motivated, why we should be more empathetic towards the unmotivated, and how to better your own motivation.
Don’t fall into the trap of being immobilized by your tasks.
I can guarantee that you will get nowhere by not taking any action.
Take the slightest step, and figure out the rest as you’re going forward.
Now, I challenge you to go take the smallest step towards achieving whatever your goals are and see where it takes you.