Common Causes Of Lack Of Motivation And How To Overcome Them

By Stephanie Kirby

Updated December 14, 2018

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 you can overcome a lack of motivation.


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 are 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 starts off something like this, "An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion…". How does that apply to us? 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 marathon 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 seems crazy because you did nothing for the entire day, but it's true.

You did little activity for the day, and somehow it seemed to tire you and suck the energy out of you. You weren't in motion, and it caused you to want to stay that way. Now, 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 are suffering from a lack of motivation, try doing the exact opposite of what you want to do-try getting started on something. Once you are active, you might find that it is easier to keep going.


  1. Depression

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

If you think you are dealing with depression, there are a few things that 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 to work through these struggles. They can help you get to the cause of your depression and determine a plan of action.

Another thing you need to do is decide what things are the most important to take care of. For example, it's important to pay your bills on time. However, learning how to play the piano isn't a necessity and can wait until you are in a better place. Determine which things you "must do" regardless of lack of motivation and what things can wait until later.

When you are depressed, it's important that you celebrate all of 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 what you are accomplishing.


  1. Overwhelm

Sometimes when you have a lot to do and feel overwhelmed your body and your mind wants to shut down. Instead of trying to figure out all the details it feels like a better idea to do absolutely nothing instead. Above we discussed how not doing anything 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 is so much to do that you can't possibly get to it all in time you might not want even to get started.

If this is a struggle that you are facing one way to overcome it is to break your tasks up into smaller portions. When you break your big task up into smaller tasks, you create easy to accomplish "bite-sized" tasks. 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 junks like:

  • Brainstorm ideas for where to go on vacation
  • Choose your destination
  • Choose the dates that you will travel
  • Decide how you are going to get there
  • Decide who is going to go with you
  • Research accommodation options
  • Make a reservation

The list could go on and on, but you get the point. When you split up your big tasks into a lot of smaller tasks you have things that you can accomplish in a short amount of time. As you accomplish each small task, you are 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 will have the victory of crossing it off the list. And, before you know it, you will be on your vacation.


  1. Trying To Please Everyone

If you are a people pleaser, you have most likely experienced a lack of motivation before. When you are busy trying to keep everyone else happy you don't know what you want to do. When you have no idea what you want to accomplish there is no reason to be motivated. Being motivated to please other people will only carry you so far. Then you will be stuck with a lack of motivation, and you won't know how to get out of it on your own.

It's hard to be motivated to achieve someone else's goals. But, when it's your goals, it's a different story. If you don't feel motivated it might be because you are trying to please everyone else. Stop trying to please everyone. It isn't going to happen. If you try to please other people all the time you are going to let yourself down constantly. That is 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 other people think.

  1. Having A Fixed Mindset

There are two types of mindsets. If you have a fixed mindset, you tend to believe that you don't have a lot of control over what can happen in your life. You believe that your abilities are limited and don't feel that you can learn some new skills and grow your intelligence along the way. You live by a "this is it" kind of thinking.

If you have this mindset, you might suffer from lack of motivation. Afterall, if things "are what they are" then why would you be motivated to try to make anything different? What would be the point of investing time into trying to learn new things when you believe it is all pointless.


To overcome a fixed mindset, you need to work on having a growth mindset. People that have a growth mindset believe that 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 that they can learn from it. This is empowering and motivating because you believe that you have the power and ability to control your destiny.

  1. You Settled

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 are content and feel like you have settled in life, you aren't going to be very motivated to try new things. You have turned your mind to a place of believing that you have everything you need. If you believe that what would be the point of working for anything else.

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

You Can Overcome It

If you are dealing with lack of motivation, it's important to pinpoint where it's coming from. If you are depressed, make sure you reach out to someone for help. And, if you are too busy, take time to get organized and prioritize your schedule. If you aren't doing enough choose a few things to go after even if you have to get started without "feeling like it." You can overcome lack of motivation.

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