Common Causes Of Lack Of Motivation And How To Overcome Them

By Stephanie Kirby

Updated March 20, 2020

Reviewer Dawn Brown

You aren't human if you haven't suffered from a lack of motivation at some point in your life. Everyone has experienced the feeling. It might have been something small, or it might be something that you have struggled with for years. Either way, it's important to know that while lacking motivation is common, it can be overcome.

Lack of Motivation Can Lead to Other Problems Like Depression - Don't Let It
An Online Therapist Can Help You Get Motivated Today


There is a lot that can be accomplished in life if we are motivated to get the work done. But, if you are in that place where you are having a hard time caring because you lack motivation, one of these six things could be the reason.

1. Not Doing Enough

This might seem like an odd statement, but it's true. If you're suffering from a lack of motivation, it might be that you aren't doing enough. If you simply decide to get started on some activity, even if you don't feel like it, your motivation might find you.

Newtons' first law states that an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion. That applies to people too. Have you ever had a Saturday where you just stayed home and did nothing? Maybe you stayed in your pajamas for the day and just sat on the couch and binge-watched one of your favorite shows. You weren't sick; you were just "relaxing." How did you feel during that day? If you are like the majority of people, by the end of the day, you were tired. That may seem odd, because you did nothing for the entire day, but it's true.

You did little activity for the day, and yet somehow it seemed to suck the energy out of you. You weren't in motion, and it caused you to want to stay that way. On the other hand, have you ever had a day where you had a jam-packed schedule? You had a lot planned, and you were able to continue moving from one activity to the next.


If you're suffering from a lack of motivation, try doing the exact opposite of what you want-try getting started on something. Once you're active, you might find it's easier to keep going.

2. Depression

Depression tends to steal your energy and motivation. This is true with even mild depression. When you're struggling with depression, it can be difficult to get through the normal tasks of daily life. That means it's a struggle to clean the house or pay the bills because you don't care.

If you think you're dealing with depression, there are a few things you can do to try to improve your lack of motivation. The first is to talk to a therapist. BetterHelp has therapists you can work with online instead of in person. They can help you uncover the cause of your depression and determine a plan of action. You also should decide what issues need the most attention. For example, it's necessary to pay your bills on time. Learning to play the piano can wait. Determine what must be done now.

When you're depressed, it's important that you celebrate all your successes even if they feel small. That means if you pay a bill on time, you can count that as a success and feel good about it. Do not allow yourself to feel like you have to wait until life is perfect before you can feel good about your accomplishments.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed

Sometimes when you have a lot to do and feel overwhelmed, your body and mind shuts down. Instead of figuring out the details, it feels better to do nothing. We discussed how doing nothing can cause a lack of motivation, but it works the other way too. Lack of motivation can result from having too much to do. When you feel like there's so much to do that you can't possibly get to it all, you might not want to even get started.

If this is you, try breaking your tasks into small pieces. Here's an example of how you would break up a larger task: Think about planning a vacation. If you add "plan vacation" to your to-do list, it can feel overwhelming. It can also feel discouraging because you aren't going to be able to cross it off your list after working on it for a small amount of time. So you need to break it into chunks, like:

  • Brainstorm ideas for where to go on vacation
  • Choose a destination
  • Select the travel dates
  • Make a list of friends to invite
  • Research hotels
  • Book the flight

The list could go on, but you get the point. When you split up your big tasks into smaller tasks, you have items you can accomplish in a short amount of time. As you accomplish each small task, you're moving in the direction of completing your big task. Your detailed list will help your mind to rest because you can see exactly what needs to be done. As you complete each small task, you'll achieve the victory of crossing it off the list. And before you know it, you'll be on your vacation.

4. Trying to Please Everyone

If you're a people pleaser, you've most likely experienced a lack of motivation before. When you're busy trying to keep everyone else happy, you can't identify your own wants and needs. When you have no idea what you want, there's no reason to be motivated. Being motivated to please others will only carry you so far. You'll be stuck with a lack of motivation, and you won't know how to get out of it.

Lack of Motivation Can Lead to Other Problems Like Depression - Don't Let It
An Online Therapist Can Help You Get Motivated Today


It's hard to be motivated to achieve someone else's goals, but when the goals are yours, it's a different story. It's important to stop trying to please everyone. If you try to please other people all the time, you're going to let yourself down constantly. That's not a way to live. Learn who you are and what you want to do. Set your own goals and then create your path. Don't worry so much about what others think. These are all easier said than done, but a licensed mental health professional can help you develop concrete tools to help you get there.

5. Having a Fixed Mindset

There are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. If you have a fixed mindset, you tend to believe you don't have control over your potential. You believe your abilities are preexisting, and that new skills and intelligence can't be developed. You live by a "this is it" kind of thinking.

If you have this mindset, you might suffer from a lack of motivation. After all, if things "are what they are" then why would you be motivated to try to make them anything different? What would be the point of investing time into learning something new when you believe it's impossible?

To overcome a fixed mindset, you need to work on having a growth mindset. People with growth mindsets believe they can learn new skills and increase their understanding. They view experiences as opportunities to grow. They welcome critiques and feedback, even when it's negative, because they know it will benefit them. This is empowering and motivating because you believe you have the ability to control your destiny.


6. You Settle for Less

Being content with what you have in life can be a good thing, but it can also lead to a lack of motivation. If you're content and feel like you've settled in life, you aren't going to be motivated to try new things. You believe you've gotten everything you can, so what would be the point of working for anything else?

If you want to improve your motivation, you need to realize you can have more in life. It's good to be content with what you have, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be striving for something better.

You Can Overcome It

If you're dealing with a lack of motivation, it's important to identify the cause. Then you can determine the necessary steps to overcome it. If you're depressed, reach out to someone for help. If you're too busy, take time to get organized and prioritize your schedule. If you aren't doing enough, choose a few tasks to accomplish, even if you don't feel like it. And if you aren't sure why you're struggling so much, talking to a counselor can help. A therapist can help you identify and overcome your obstacles. And one obstacle for those with low motivation is getting out the door. This is when BetterHelp's online counseling is beneficial. It allows you to get the help you need without having to travel to an appointment and see someone in person. Read below for some reviews on our counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"I've been working with Dr. Butler for a few months now and I've seen tremendous change in how I view my problems and strengthen myself to tackle them. Have really enjoyed working with him and his very open and positive attitude is always a pleasure. I leave every session energized and motivated."

"Maria is a lovely therapist who helped motivate me to make some changes in my life such as pursuing school and employment."


There are different reasons why people suffer from a lack of motivation. It could be a situation in your life, or a mental health challenge you're facing. But you can start the process of overcoming a lack of motivation, with the right tools. Take the first step.

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