What do you when there is no motivation to do anything?

How do you manage lack of motivation, not being able to let go of past issues, letting things people say or do affect you? How do you move past this?
Asked by Shana
Answered
12/05/2021
Hello,
 
Everyone struggles with motivation issues sometime or another. The way you respond to this is what matters!  Be kind to yourself, experiment with strategies that increase your motivation, and ask for help if you need it.   You mention you struggle with letting go of past issues and being concerned about what people say and do - I can see how this may be impacting your motivation.
 
Whether you can lack motivation to meet up with friends or you are not feeling motivated to do attend to tasks - this can be a big obstacle in reaching your life goals.  When you lack motivation consider possible reasons why you are struggling. Then, develop a plan to help motivate yourself to tackle this.
 
Just know not every strategy works for everyone, in every situation.  See which strategy best helps you.
 
Lack of motivation can be a symptom of a bigger issue.  EG, if you are a perfectionist, your lack of motivation may be fear that you will not complete your task flawlessly.  Until you address this need to be perfect, your motivation is unlikely to increase.   
 
It is important to consider why you might have trouble motivating yourself.
 
Common reasons for lack of motivation: 
 
1. Avoidance of discomfort. Whether you do not want to feel bored doing the mundane, or you are trying to avoid feeling frustrated by dodging a tough challenge, sometimes a lack of motivation stems from a desire to avoid uncomfortable feeling.  Being let down in the past by friends and not wanting to take that chance again.
 
2. Self-doubt.
When you think you cannot do something or are convinced you cannot tolerate distress you may struggle to get started. 
 
I am curious if you are experiencing self-doubt when you mention not being able to let go of the past?  If so, seeking some professional counseling would be my best recommendation for you (see below).
 
3. Lack of commitment to a goal.
Agreeing to a task because you felt obligated may mean your heart is not in it.  You are unlikely to take action when you are not committed to your goal.
 
4. Mental Health Issues.
Lack of motivation is a common symptom of depression or anxiety.  Consider whether your mental health may be affecting your motivation level to move on from your past let downs.
 
If you are unable to let go of your past you may be experiencing some depression.  You might find your lack of motivation stems from other issues, like the fear of what people think or because you have been hurt in the past.  So carefully consider any underlying thoughts and feelings that are affecting your drive and if it is too much to manage by yourself - seek help (see below).
 
5. Act Like You Are Motivated  
Try tricking yourself into feeling motivated by changing your behavior. Act as if you feel motivated -  your actions may change your emotions.  Ask yourself, “What would I be doing right now if I felt motivated?”
 
6. Argue the Opposite  
When you are struggling with motivation, you may come up with reasons why you should not take action - EG., “I will get hurt".  This type of thought will keep you stuck. 
 
When you think you may fail, argue all the reasons why you will succeed.  When you think "you cannot get past something" - list all evidence that shows the opposite.  It can remind you that an overly pessimistic outcome is not completely accurate.  
 
7. Practice Self-Compassion  
You might think being hard on yourself is the key to getting motivated. But harsh self-criticism does not work.
 
Self-compassion is much more motivating, especially when struggling with adversity. 
 
Self-compassion may improve mental health - which can increase motivation. So rather than beat yourself up, create a kinder dialogue. Healthy self-compassion balances self-acceptance with self-improvement. Acknowledge your flaws, mistakes, and failures with honesty. But do not indulge in a pity party.  Ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this issue?” You are more likely to be kind to someone else than yourself - treat yourself like a good friend.   Coach yourself in a helpful manner. Practice self-talk that encourages recovery from setbacks, the past.
 
8. Exercise 
Exercise does wonders for motivation.  Walking is known to have a calming effect on the brain - which helps motivate through tough times.
 
9. Pair a Dreaded Task With Something You Enjoy  
Emotions play a huge part in motivation levels. If you are sad, stuck in the past, bored, lonely or anxious, your drive to tackle your challenge to let go will suffer. 
 
Boost mood by adding fun to something you are not motivated to do. You may feel happier and you might even look forward to your challenge. 
 
10. Manage Your To-Do List  
Being over-extended. When you have a lot going on in life, you may feel overwhelmed - this feeling can zap motivation. It is tough to feel motivated when your to-do list is overwhelming. If you feel like there is no hope in ever getting a task done you might not try to do anything.  Review your list - determine if it is too ambitious. If so, shelve unessential tasks. Prioritize important things - move those to the top.  A small change in your list may help you to see tasks as manageable, then, you might feel motivated to get it done. 
 
If your to-do list is related to letting go of your past - break the big issue into smaller, achievable steps.
 
11. Practice Self-Care  
You may struggle with motivation when not caring for yourself. Sleep-deprivation, poor diet, and lack of leisure time are a few things that can make getting through a difficult day.
 
12. Create a Self-Care Plan:
Exercise regularly.
Get adequate sleep.
Drink water, eat a healthy diet.
Make time for leisure and fun.
Use healthy coping skills to manage stress.
Avoid unhealthy habits, like binge eating, drinking excess alcohol.
 
13. Rewards for Achieving
Create small rewards that you earn for taking a positive step EG. to call a friend. Focusing on the reward may help to motivate you to reach your goal.
 
Experiment with a few strategies until you discover the best for you. 
 
14. Seek Help  
If motivation remains low for more than 2 weeks, or your lack of motivation affects daily functioning consider seeking professional help.  EG,  you are unable to go to work, work performance is suffering, or you are unmotivated to leave the house - these may indicate something more significant is going on.
 
Consider a mental health professional to determine if your lack of motivation might be related to poor self-worth resulting in depression. If so, treatment may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
 
Consider online counseling options to address any underlying issues and tackle why your struggle to find motivation and why you cannot let go.  I suspect they are closely related.
 
In Kindness, Gaynor
 
 
 
 
    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(MA, LCSW)