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“I’ve just got no motivation to do anything.” Sound familiar?
It’s remarkably tough to stay motivated at every point in your life. If you work from 25 until 65, you’ll be working for 40 years. There will be ups and downs. There will be times when you spend your days and nights questioning yourself, you struggle, and you start to wonder why? What’s the meaning behind all of this? Why are you staying up until 1:00 am building a side business? Or why are you learning this class in college that you feel may have no practical applicability?
In other words, you’ll undoubtedly have times where you feel like you have no motivation to do anything.
Whether you are in this stage of your career right now or you are starting to feel less motivated than before, you should know that there are strategies and techniques for improving your life situation. Note that while many posts discuss how to fix a lack of motivation, this post will examine that but also explore why you feel demotivated in the first place. Sometimes not feeling motivated is a symptom of a more significant issue.
Let’s dive right into the steps!
1. Understand Why You Have No Motivation
If you feel a lack of motivation, the first thing you should do is understand why. Is there anything different going on in your life to cause this? All too often, people find a sudden motivation to fix their motivation problem without understanding why they lost it in the first place.
Are you tired? Have you done the same thing for 30 years and are bored? Was this lack of motivation brought on by some specific life event? Is your lack of motivation interfering with your ability to provide for yourself or your family? Did it come on suddenly with no warning?
These are all questions that guide what you should do. Before looking for a solution to a problem, you should know the initial cause.
2. Determine If You Want To Stay The Course
Depending on the underlying cause of feeling demotivated, you’re going to want to think about if you’re going to “stay the course” on your current life path. For example, if you’ve become demotivated because you hate the city you’re currently residing in, then maybe the answer is to try a new place! Or if you feel demotivated because you’ve been passed up for a promotion three times already, then perhaps that’s a cue to find a new job.
Sometimes having no motivation is your mind’s way of telling you that it’s time to realise your dreams. It’s time to seize full control of your life and accomplish even better things!
Other times, you do want to stay the course (like if you’re building a side-business) because you’re already doing what you love, you merely need a little bit of help keeping the enthusiasm burning!
3. Remember Your Why
Assuming that you do want to continue with your current career, because in your heart you know it’s what you want to do, then the next step is to remember the reason why you chose your job in the first place. If you’re a teacher, step back from the politics and angry parents and think of the children’s lives that you’re impacting. If you’re an accountant, remember those days in school when you would dream of having a professional career.
Without a strong “why” that you can articulate clearly, you’re going to struggle to find motivation. A job without a why is just a job. A career with a why is when you start thinking about fulfilling your dreams. Spend time thinking about those reasons why you got into the career you have today. You could even watch Simon Sinek’s inspirational TED talk to give you a bit of guidance.
Exhaustion is a sneaky feeling that has . When we feel exhausted, our instinct is to jettison everything. Our number one focus is to feel less fatigued, even if that sabotages our long-term goals. We become very short-sighted and lose track of the bigger “why” which we rediscovered in the previous step.
One of the quickest ways to feel passionate about your career is to work a little less. That doesn’t mean you slack on the job (which can lead to demotivation in and of itself), but rather that you allow yourself the opportunity to breathe. There’s a good chance that you will step back and say “hey, teaching is so much fun if I don’t have to work all these late nights.” Or you might say, “oh yeah, building software is so cool now that I’m not staying up until 1:00 am every night.”
Don’t let exhaustion overrun your life. Relax. Re-group. See if the passion you once felt comes back to your career once the fatigue dissipates.
5. Learn Something New
Doing the same trivial task over and over again often leads to no motivation for work. If you have a job that has repetition (or you have been at the same place for many, many years), then you might want to consider learning something new. If you’re in software, you might learn a new programming language. If you’re in accounting, maybe you could take a new course in a different direction. Whatever you choose to learn, make sure this knowledge goes above and beyond the day-to-day routine. Sometimes exploring an aspect of your career that you never knew about is enough to make you feel enthusiastic about your chosen profession.
6. Set and Track Manageable Goals
If you’ve ever played games on your phone, you probably already know the power behind badges, coins, and other rewards developers use to keep you playing. Often, you can apply the same principles to your career and motivate yourself to do better.
Set manageable goals. Maybe one day that’s helping a student learn a new math principle. Or perhaps it’s solving that pesky book balancing problem you’ve been looking into earlier in the week. Once you have some manageable goals, write them down. Put them on your phone or a piece of paper – it doesn’t matter where – as long as you write them down.
As you achieve your goals, denote them with a checkbox. Maybe give yourself a little treat (eat a good meal, for example) when you do!
Reflect on your progress. Look at the impact you are making by looking at all the checkboxes. Just like the gold coins for playing a mobile game longer, you’ll see all the checked boxes and want to collect more of them! It’s a great way to motivate yourself.
7. Think About Your Tasks Differently
All of us tend to think about our tasks and focus on the work involved, not the outcome afterwards. We think about how we need to prepare a spreadsheet for the boss tomorrow as opposed to remembering that because we make that spreadsheet, we get a paycheck every couple weeks. Or we might hate the thought of working to prepare a lesson and lose focus of the bright, young people’s minds that will find fulfilment and joy with this new knowledge you’ll be teaching.
Sometimes, when you make goals, you also need to r. Instead of “make a budget,” maybe your goal is to “plan how to save $10,000 this year – so I can take a vacation!” Focus on the outcome, not the work!
8. Support Yourself First
In some cases, having no motivation at work is because you’re not benefitting from the work you’re doing. If you’re working to make your boss wealthy but you’re struggling to put food on the table, that’s going to be demoralising rapidly. While they’re jetting off to France, you’re checking your bank account to see if you can afford McDonald’s. That type of situation will get old fast.
Remember that a career is not one job. You’ll probably have multiple positions over your lifetime. Put yourself first. If you have no motivation and you’ve tried some of the other things, maybe this is a cue that you need to find a job with better arrangements.
Psychologists say that after a certain point in time, having more money does not bring . If you have a £150,000 job, leaving for a £180,000 one probably won’t fix all your motivation issues (although you may have a small boost initially). However, if you have a £20,000 one, then maybe going for a £30,000 salary would help significantly.
If your lack of motivation is due to your pay, don’t be afraid to seek new employment. Sometimes a new job is all it takes to feel like getting up in the morning again!
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