I can't get motivated!

Unmotivated or just tired?

Your motivation has a lot to do with your energy level. Are you getting enough sleep? Do you get enough physical activity (or too much)? Are you eating nothing but junk food? These can all affect your energy level. There are also lots of long-term health conditions that make you feel lethargic, like thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, or autoimmune disorders. These often go years without being diagnosed. If you can’t figure out why you’re so exhausted, it’s a good idea to ask a doctor to run some tests.

Your energy level is also affected by your mental health. Chronic exhaustion is a symptom of depression—and so is beating yourself up, using negative labels like “lazy.” Anxiety can also wear you down. Your brain uses a lot of energy, and if you’re worrying all the time, it will use up even more! Take one of our mental health screens to find out if anxiety or depression might be holding you back.

What is your brain trying to tell you?

Sometimes it can feel like our emotions are getting in our way. Depression and anxiety can feel like “the enemy.” But a lot of the time, they’re trying to tell us something important. Maybe the message is that you’re full of self-doubt—you just don’t believe you can accomplish what you’re trying to do, so why bother? Maybe what you’re trying to do is just not really that important to you. Maybe it’s someone else’s goal and you’re just going through the motions. Or maybe you need to work harder, not smarter: take a step back and see if there’s an easier way to accomplish your goals.

If you take the time to pay attention to your mind and body, you might be able to figure out what changes you can make to feel more motivated to achieve your goals.

Getting motivated

All of this doesn’t mean that getting motivated isn’t a challenge of its own. Change is hard, and working up the courage to accomplish something difficult takes some work. Fortunately, there are ways to work on this.

Think about the goals you’ve set that you feel unmotivated to work on. Ask yourself some questions to get to the heart of why you want to accomplish them. Writing down the answers can help too—fill in the blanks with the goal you’re focused on:

  • Why is ______ so important to me?
  • How would my life be different if I could ______?
  • What’s getting in the way of ______?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how motivated to I feel to ______?
  • What would it take for me to get one number higher on that scale? (from a 3 to a 4, for example)
  • What is the easiest, smallest thing I can do now to move just a little bit closer to ______?

These questions do a couple things:

  1. They get you thinking about the reasons why you want to change. Or, they may uncover that you don’t really have any reasons to change. That’s okay too! It means it might be time to reevaluate your goals, or to start thinking about them differently.
  2. They help you identify obstacles. There are always things holding us back from our goals. Remove some of those roadblocks, and it will be easier to move forward.
  3. They help you break down big goals into small steps. You’ve probably heard a million times that “it’s not the destination that counts—its’ the journey.” Even if the destination is what you really care about, the journey is what gets you there. The important thing is taking small steps toward your goals. Small wins will build up your confidence and help you start to see your progress, which makes the rest of the journey seem a lot more appealing!

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