The Four Reasons You’re Feeling Unmotivated (and the antidotes for each one)

The Four Reasons You’re Feeling Unmotivated (and the antidotes for each one)

You were inspired about this yesterday… where did the energy go?

What happened to your excitement, the enthusiasm, your passion for building and creating this thing that you love?

Then self doubt and questioning drag you into even murkier waters.

Maybe you weren’t really passionate about it in the first place. Possible, but how do you KNOW for sure?

Maybe you just aren’t disciplined enough and just need to follow through for once. Also possible, but what if you don’t care about it actually and end up wasting your time?

I’ve found that there are a handful of reasons your energy is slipping. There are also proven ways to take yourself out of the funk, and sustain your energy more evenly so that you’re not always in crisis mode.

Reason #1. Your Goal Isn’t Your Own

This usually happens because you feel you need to impress other people. So you choose a goal that doesn’t really matter to you.

It works for a little while, but then you find a certain dissonance from your goal. It feels foreign to you. It doesn’t feel like something you can remember wanting in the past.

The tell-tell sign that you’ve chosen a goal that isn’t your own is that you can’t easily describe to someone why it matters to you, and simultaneously feel good about it. You feel it in your mind, but not your heart.

Antidote: Kill the goal and choose a path based on what you’d do if you had zero obligations.

Reason #2. You’re Always Running Away

You’re used to always running away from things, but things are generally good now. You haven’t allowed yourself to run toward something.

This happens often with successful artists. They start out angry, hurt, depressed or in some form of deep pain. But as they work through that pain they undo it over time. They achieve a certain amount of success, they stop needing to struggle to survive, and their inspiration seems to disappear.

At some point you have to learn to be inspired by going toward pleasure, not just away from pain.

Antidote: Expand your threshold for pleasure and allow things to be good. Stop sabotaging yourself or creating conditions where you need to escape the pain.

Reason #3. You Haven’t Gotten Clear On Your Deep Why

You can easily choose a goal that you’re excited about, genuinely running toward something you’re really passionate about. But if you haven’t gotten clear on why it is important to you, it can be easy to forget and inevitably you lose motivation.

You can find yourself questioning what you’re doing or if it is truly the right path for you.

When you uncover a why that is deep and at your core, you’re able to stay at the center of what matters to you. The goals and projects may change, the expressions of your purpose may shift, but at the core is the same theme.

Because you stay close to your core, you’re able to measure any opportunities that come your way with how well they match up with your theme. More often your outer expression begins to match your inner motivation.

Antidote: Take some time to be alone and ask yourself what you want your life to be about, at its core. What do you want people to say about you when you’re dead?

Reason #4. You’re Horrible At Remembering Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing

This is where both discipline and practice come into play.

You’ve created a vision that truly matters to you, one that you can run toward. You know the deep why and can articulate it to anyone.

Now the practice becomes staying connected and remembering that purpose at all times.

This is the hardest part and the longest work, perhaps a lifetime of work. However, you can greatly accelerate and improve your remembrance abilities by creating reminders in your environment, by practicing with others, and by starting your day with remembering your deepest why.

Antidote: Commit to ten minutes per day of remembering why you’re doing your work and connecting with your original inspiration before you start.

You’re not alone, go easy on yourself

Some days you just won’t feel it and you need to go easy on yourself. Some days you need to push through the fuzz and cultivate more devotion.

We’re not robots, we all struggle staying motivated and inspired from time to time. Ride the cycles and honor your natural rhythms. Stay diligent and know the difference between the need for discipline and the need for rest and cultivation.

The right action won’t always be clear, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.

Add your voice in the comments: What do you do when you’re not feeling motivated? What helps you get back into the groove?


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51 Comments on "The Four Reasons You’re Feeling Unmotivated (and the antidotes for each one)"

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Steve Roy
Guest
Dude, It’s like you’re reading my mind here. Seriously. My motivation waxes and wanes like fucking crazy and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why. Some days I feel like I can take over the world and the next I don’t want to do shit. #1. I have struggled with actually coming from a place in my heart and not my head. I get so wrapped up in thought that I forget the most important thing of the true “why” I’m doing something. #2. I’ve recently realized that I sabotage my success when I am getting too close to doing… Read more »
Mary Schiller
Guest

Fear is a huge motivator for me and always has been. Right now, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to honor my personal deadline for quitting my job, so this week I’ve become SUPER serious about what I’m doing.

Remembering my “why” is always the trickiest one for me because I’m not good at seeing my strengths and what I can offer people. I think small too often, and then that’s what I receive. Time to start thinking big and not caring about what anyone thinks!

Thanks, Jonathan.

Kurt Charles
Guest
I feel exactly like Steve. This post hits the nail on the head. Yesterday I was super inspired and decided to tell some people about my new project. Got very little response and took it hard on myself. I always beat myself up thinking I’m not good enough or if I put myself out there, will I really be able to help people solve their problems? I also know I have what it takes and just need to get over the fear and keep pushing. How do I overcome the challenges. Well a day like tiday, I take time out.… Read more »
Jane
Guest

I identify with every word that you said. This helps a lot. Thanks

Erica
Guest
I cosign with Steve Roy 1000% about this article! It is incredibly insightful and on time for me as well. Very recently, I’d been working towards a goal which, through some revelations Spirit had been bringing to my intentions, were not coming from my heart. This was something I was honestly doing to impress others, really as a big ‘F-you’ to some, lol. The key for me was owning up to it and shifting my focus into a project which I know comes from my heart. My ‘why’ clearly aligns with my new project (though not so much with the… Read more »
angele freema
Guest

Great post but my issue isn’t listed. Quite often I come up with these amazing ideas, I sit down plan them out and everything, but then I always get stuck at the same place, startup costs. Its not that im being lazy its just like where the hell do I come up with the money? And even put it out th ere to inquire for funding while keeping my intellectual property protected?

Ted
Guest

“Kill the goal and choose a path based on what you’d do if you had zero obligations.”

I find this signficantly difficult to do when I HAVE so many obligations (work, family, church, etc.)

“If money were no object” is a logical fallacy. You can’t reach good conclusion from a faulty premise. The market not obligated to pay for what you love. I understand the point of the thought process, but it’s a logical fallacy.

Dave Everitt
Guest

“[artists] achieve a certain amount of success, they stop needing to struggle to survive” – with me, I realised that I wanted music to be fun, and after our first record deal and manager and singer all crashed, I just decided to have fun and stop trying to ‘achieve’ anything. The resulting band had far more success over a period of over 10 years and made more money!

Andrew N
Guest

Awesome! I love that story.

Bridget
Guest

I’m striving on the “You’re not alone, go easy on yourself” part. Good to hear that that’s a worthy antidote along with the previously listed stuff.

Boris
Guest

Man your posts are real & raw. I appreciate each one. Know that they are doing so much good at least in my life.

Last one gave me a huge “AHA” and this one a double “AHA” …..

Thanks heaps dude

Ziporah
Guest

what if you are not doing what you love, but doing what you need to do in order to pay the bills so that you can get back to what you love? I am a filmmaker…

Sean
Guest
I have no regrets. Okay, I’ll admit it. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. Outer Space is super cool! Neil DeGrasse Tyson didn’t enter my vernacular until some odd twenty years later. Religious people told me I was crazy for believing in life on other planets. My family said “astronauts don’t wear glasses”. The point? For every dreamer out there, they have 10-20 backers, and as many jealous people as there are stars in the Milky Way. Astronauts do in fact wear glasses. When I found this article while rummaging through gmail I was excited!… Read more »
Lovelyn
Guest

Remembering why I was doing what I was doing used to be my main problem. I’d just get so bogged down in the day to day and that I’d forget what the point of it all was and end up feeling unmotivated and uninspired. Now that I’ve scheduled daily reminders about my main goal to come to my email and on my phone, it’s a lot easier to stay motivated.

Michael
Guest
Number 4 (“you’re horrible at remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing”) speaks to my experience, directly. I get so caught up in the technology involved with delivering my message that I can easily get off track. Being an entrepreneur is hard work. I have to learn a series of skill-sets that I didn’t even know existed before I chose this path. That said, I love it. It’s all part of the experience and I know it will be worth it at the end… But how to remind myself why I’m doing, what I’m doing? Like what Jonathan said, I… Read more »
Jorma
Guest
I’m having great big trouble of finding my Mighty Why. I have been searching for it for quite a while, in fact ever since I got laid off (1.5 years now), and I feel I’m no closer to the goal. The circumstances in the process left me feeling that I know nothing and there is nothing I’m good at. So picking up the pieces and appreciating my skills – any skills at all – is very hard. For me it’s quite impossible to even think what I would do if money wasn’t an issue, because it is a daily issue.… Read more »
nolakes
Guest

Wow! Jonathan you amaze me. Steve said it all. Your articles get straight to the point! They speak my truth. Couldn’t agree with you more. Spot on! Keep up the great work. Thanx for sharing!

Aušrin?
Guest
Some time ago I’ve stumbled upon your blog while I was searching for differences between motivation and inspiration. And this post makes me question – where’s the motivation and where’s the inspiration as they are closely tied together, I suppose? For example #1 is more about motivation as it is connected to the way others see you and the wish to look better in their eyes. And #2-4 are about inner things, about inspiration and our true calling. I’d love to get your opinion on how these two interact :) And maybe in many cases the lost of motivation/inspiration depends… Read more »
Sal
Guest

I love this. You always know how to set me straight jonathan

JP
Guest
You’re all 100% correct. Thing is, two kids to raise up, no room for “if money were no object”… Struggling everyday to make a buck, striving everyday to do what I love (ok, still need to figure out the “why” part…), motivation is like a roller coaster… Day in, day out, I feel stuck. I’m sure “if you do what you love money will follow”, bau I guess it works when you’re 20. At 53, divorced, two teens to feed… I’m sure I’l “get there” eventually… thing is, with one foot at the grave it may be too late, I… Read more »
Daniel
Guest
I’ve been working on writing a novel, I know that somewhere I really do want to write it. though I’ve lost focus on the why and have been looking at the how. which quickly lead me to the question “why isn’t this fun anymore, why can’t I finish this?” This post gave me great insight into how to re-enliven my desire to write this book. I want to write it because I am genuinely interested in the world I’m creating, it is a beautiful place. I want to write it to expand other’s imaginations and to share the creativity that… Read more »
Andrew N
Guest

Amen brother!

Sofia
Guest
I believe this post strikes a chord, but theres something missing. I’ve found that the easiest way to kill your ambition is to set so many expectations around your goal, to get so completely enveloped in it that you miss out on the rest of your life and base all the happiness of your life upon it. The easiest way to regain your passion for doing anything is to just give up, then take it up again and up it in its proper place. Goals and dreams serve us, not us them, and we need to believe to our very… Read more »
The Wallet Doctor
Guest

I really like your point on running away versus running toward something. I think many of us get stuck in a sort of survival mode which prevents us from seeking out goals of our own. This can lead to complacency when things settle down. However, keeping a bit of perspective can help us realize that moving toward something that is our own is truly valuable.

Green Girl Success
Guest

I also think lack of integration of goals into our current lifestyle causes a problem. For example, I sold my car over a year ago, so I walk or bike everywhere. Now I meet my fitness and finance goals effortlessly. I don’t need the motivation… it is built into my choice of alternate commuting.

Dawn
Guest

Oh ma gersh! The comments are as good as the post! I love this community. I get so inspired by y’all. And that’s what I do when I lose my mojo–I spend some time with someone who still has theirs, or with someone who believes in mine. Onward and upward!

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lynne
Guest

Hi , great article. When I feel unmotivated, I try to stop for a while, take a few minutes alone, as my quiet time and meditate as to what i really wanted. then go out in the park, have some peace and soon everything is back to normal again… Thanks for sharing , it is very helpful indeed.

Joshua Tilghman
Guest

Reason number 3 is so important. For me, this needs to be the core of what you reflect on first. I’d even write it down and paste it somewhere to refer to as you work. When we lose sight of the why, we lose sight of ourselves. Thanks for these reminders!

Cedric
Admin

I love you guys. You’re all so incredible and have such great insights. Thank you for showing up and sharing here. I appreciate you.

Chandler
Guest

Number 3 is by far the one I have the most trouble with. I have something I know that I want to pursue, but it’s so hard to justify jumping a perfectly stable ship into a frozen lake of the unknown.

Answering “Why is this a great idea?” or “Why is this what you are supposed to do?” is the really tricky part. I feel as if I’m getting close, but it’s had to jump ship.

Meg
Guest
Wow – reason #2 resonates with me so much! I think there is so much to be said for reconnecting with who you are and what motivates you at the start of the day. I think we all generate habits that have kept us safe for a great deal of our lives but which, at some point, we have to break free from. And it doesn’t matter how much you think you’re ‘over it’, they’ll still come back and surprise you when you least expect it. My best advice: be kind to yourself. You’re human, and you’re not (by any… Read more »
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Lana Vaughan
Guest

Putting what I want into words sets me up to have my desires dismissed, diminished, or denied.

lux8x
Guest
I’m unmotivated and I don’t know why… 2 months ago I was working, happy, but now I lost all motivation… The last 2 weeks I barely worked 15 hours each week, when I was working 35 and they didn’t even seem enough. I guess I love my job, but I’m tired of bills… Tired of paying rent, food, everything. I recently came back from a trip of around 3 weeks with just my backpack, and it made me realize I can live with very little. I think this is the source of my lack of motivation. I’m feeling I should… Read more »
Jacob
Guest

Teach english part time in china and live on the highest mountain top with peaceful people. Soon you will find their peace of mind. And use your money for a way to grasp knowledge on your travels. ;) you asked for it. People tend to be happier on mountains always better breathing. Good luck.

Nirmala
Guest

Nice post for the one who feel uninspired.

I agree with the possible reasons for unmotivated feeling and thanks for the solutions.

I feel depressed for some constraints, will try to implement the solutions given.

Jesse
Guest

Of course, important to remember: relationship building never stops! You and I have known each other for a long time, Jane, yet it still takes nourishing and an occasional ping to refresh it, right? ????

Shawn
Guest

I’m striving on the “You’re not alone, go easy on yourself” part. Good to hear that that’s a worthy antidote along with the previously listed stuff.

Shawn
Guest

though I’ve lost focus on the why and have been looking at the how. which quickly lead me to the question “why isn’t this fun anymore, why can’t I finish this?” This post gave me great insight into how to re-enliven my desire to write this book.

Freddy Abreu
Guest
Now for once I can see I’m not alone!, I feel like there is a heart beating with motionless. I’m 26 I really feel disappoint at all!. So my childhood died, deep pain without name and, Now I’m becoming a man, acting with logic to proceed according the masters of the common sense of living. Oh pink midnights! the smell to countryside forever and the virgin flower, then my soul was a toddler my mouth’s song on the spur of the moment, and laughing without sense seemed to be current. Oh lyrics of the time of wearing caps and blouses!,… Read more »
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Lala
Guest

It’s very simple for me. My husband spends so much time telling me I’m unmotivated, that i start to believe it. The more I hear it the more I don’t want to do anything.

Haley
Guest

These questions were helpful I’m in high school right now and for some reason I’m just boy feeling motivated my biggest motivation is getting to go to college and open up my own bakery

Karen
Guest

I love this thread, I woke this morning feeling like the only one on earth who has confused, frustrated, unmotivated days. Now, I can see just how prevalent this really is.
Motivation for me has always waxed and waned and I thought that it was somehow a character flaw, turns out we’re all just human.
I keep hearing about Mastermind Groups, maybe a group of likeminded individuals is what we need to form? Thoughts?

Roland
Guest
Hi! Thanks for this post. All 4 actually rings true to me. I will try your antidotes. I used to be driven and active. Now, I am bored and unmotivated with practically anything I do. I work in an office and I also do some projects/activities with friends and groups I belong to. I finish my tasks somehow but I still feel hollow inside. I feel as if everything is irrelevant. People let you down, you let other people down too. No matter how noble you think your work is, it’s still not enough. Problems and issues still persist. It’s… Read more »
Joniel
Guest
Im 17 years old, in my senior year. Everytime i get home the first thing i do is lay on my bed and browse my whole phone. While i do that i say in my mind “this sucks, i should do somwthing else” then as soon as i get up i realize that there isnt much to do, so i just lay again on my bed and start thinking how i got so tired of doing things, so bored of everything, dismotivated to do anything important, which is how i got here writing this down. I just feel like no… Read more »
Czarinah
Guest
Thank you for this. I am a rockclimber and most of my time when I`m not working is spent on climbing. On times that I won a competition or I`m included in the Finals, I am usually motivated and feels like I can solve and cimb all boulder problems that my coach has prepared for me. On the other side, there are times when I am so weak that I cannot even finish the simplest problem. Just like today, this week. I don`t feel tired at work either. I just don`t feel like doing my trainings. Which I hate. My… Read more »
Marc
Guest
Very interesting indeed. What strikes me is how so often we think we are alone in what we are experiencing, then reading all the comments here realise we are not. Personally i start to feel really guilty that i am being lazy, but i know its not laziness. Only last week, i spent about 3 days creating my goals, only to realise none of my goals actually mean anything. It was only my own illusions of what may make me feel happy. 10 minutes before reading this post, i was actually thinking WHY am i doing what i am. Reading… Read more »
Jacob
Guest

So my problem was number one. Not such a long story. Im in a the Army and its good. Ive got the duty station that i love. But my heart isnt thriving. So my quest continues.. “Youve got shoes on your feet, go deep into the woods and find yourself.

Jacob
Guest

The antidote is GREAT ! But leaving the army means AWOL and i want to commit to my contract. So as much as my spirit says GO.. I will stay put.. ill have to do my time. But still a great antidote.

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