Common Causes Of Lack Of Motivation And How To Overcome Them

By: Stephanie Kirby

Updated December 21, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: 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.

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.

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  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 can apply 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.


  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you fix lack of motivation?

Sometimes, feeling motivated may be your psychological challenge. You shouldn't feel too bad about this because there are steps you can take to overcome your lack of motivation. When you are unable to stay motivated or suffer from a lack of motivation often, you should do your best to remember exactly what you want to accomplish and why. For example, if you want to learn how to do something new, such a learning how to cook or picking up a new language, be clear on what your goals are and how you expect to meet them. Once you have a strong plan for your goals, it may be easier for you to stay motivated to continue. Moreover, if you are trying to work hard enough to get a promotion, remember the raise you will receive or the office upgrade you are hoping to obtain. These things may help you stay motivated when it seems like a goal isn’t attainable. Splitting up your main goals into smaller, achievable goals can be an effective tool for staying motivated. It's pertinent to seek professional help when a lack of motivation is affecting the way you live your life. Also, if you find that you are still struggling to find or increase your motivation, speaking with a licensed therapist can help. A therapist can help you uncover the underlying cause of no motivation, address the cause directly, and assist you to feel motivated.

Does ADHD cause a lack of motivation?

ADHD can cause a lack of motivation, which may be experienced by children or adults. People with ADHD have a lack of dopamine, which is thought to be the reason they are unable to stay motivated. If people have a lack of motivation and there is little they can do about it, they may want to consider getting checked out by a doctor, to ensure that there isn’t something going on that needs to be resolved.

What is another word for a lack of motivation?

There are many terms that someone may use when they are talking about a person with a lack of motivation. These include unambitious, procrastinating, lackadaisical, and directionless. When you are experiencing issues with motivation, you may want to look at motivation quotes or motivational videos. These can give you an incentive to work on your goals again, find motivation, and incredibly start to stay and feel more motivated. Remember that it's impossible to increase your motivation if you're not motivated at all.


Why do employees lack motivation?

When you are wondering why your employees cannot stay motivated, there are a few factors to consider. In some cases, their workload may differ from other people on the team, they might not feel like they are getting recognition for their work, they might be having problems in their life, or they may simply feel like their boss or manager likes other people more than them. Any of these things can cause a worker to lose motivation and not want to work as hard as they used to.

How important is challenging work to motivation?

Challenging work can be a great way to motivate employees to do their best at a certain job or task. If you have noticed that people on your team suffer from a lack of motivation, giving them work that is challenging should be able to promote productivity and perhaps allow employees to stay motivated. Of course, you will need to make sure that the work is able to be completed. If it is too difficult, then people will likely be unable to stay motivated and may not want to try very hard to complete the work. In other words, difficult or nearly impossible tasks may lead to a lack of motivation. Therefore, in order to make such tasks doable and interesting, you must instill a sense of motivation in your employees and consistently offer incentives that can help them with their mood and motivation.

How do you motivate a demotivated person?

The Problem with mood and motivation can interfere with people's day to day activities. Fortunately, there are ways to help those that find themselves in such a condition. In general, if you want to motivate someone that sometimes exhibits a lack of motivation, you may want to begin to encourage them. You can show them motivational videos or motivational quotes and offer them kind words whenever you see them complete something. It can be difficult to stay motivated all the time, so upon occasion, people may need to be reminded or given the sense of motivation that they are doing a good job or given an incentive to try harder.

What causes laziness and lack of motivation?

Laziness and a lack of motivation can have a number of causes. One is that a person is overwhelmed. When someone feels like they have too much to do, they may not actually be able to accomplish anything at all. Another reason someone can’t stay motivated is that they are completing a task they simply don’t like. They may think the work is boring or tedious and are basically uninterested in it. A person can suffer from a lack of motivation when they are content with the way things are as well. This might be a good thing or a bad thing. When people are able to find a good balance, it will be easier to stay motivated. There are ways to do this, no matter who you are.

What factors affect motivation?

In terms of work, there are a few major factors that determine whether or not a person can stay motivated. These are pride, recognition, monetary rewards, pressure (either by their peers or bosses), and fear. A person will need to work through these things if they want to stay motivated on a regular basis. While these factors pertain to professional goals, this does not make them any less valid in a personal sense. In other words, they may still govern you in your private life. If you are not getting the recognition you need when it comes to a relationship, you are unlikely to keep doing some of the same things you may have done at the beginning of the relationship. This is to be expected.


There are different reasons why people suffer from a lack of motivation. The motivation problem 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 to make you feel and stay motivated. Take the first step.

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