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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Comment & Add Your Voice

Steve Roy June 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm

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 something “bigger”. I have chosen to fly under the radar my whole life and am scared to death of being “the” go to person in any respective field. That kind of attention puts me out there and my ass on the line. But I know if I am ever going to make a living doing what I love, then I HAVE to go for it.

#3. I often get caught up in pursuing something out of short term gratification and without a good “why” as to why I’m doing it. I’ve had to do some soul searching in the past few months and have learned a great deal about myself.

#4. This is a great practice. It’s one I haven’t adopted but need to. I run around all day like a chicken with its head cut off and rarely take the time to slow down.

Thanks for these gentle reminders, I appreciate it..

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Mary Schiller June 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm

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.

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Kurt Charles June 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

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. I cut the lawn, took a long shower, ate some food and spent a little time with my kids which is precious because I’m always online.

Taking time out helps me remember that despite me not ‘making it’ yet, I still have a lot to be grateful for.

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Erica June 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm

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 old one), and though I see the end product in mind, I know it is going to take a lot of work to get there. The most helpful part of this article was step #4, reconnecting to your ‘why’ each and every day to help you stay the course. I am going to incorporate this into my daily practice of making my dreams come true.

Thanks for sharing this awesome article, Jonathan:)

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angele freema June 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

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?

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Ted June 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

“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.

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Dave Everitt June 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

“[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!

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Andrew N November 7, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Awesome! I love that story.

Bridget June 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm

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.

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Boris June 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

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

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Ziporah June 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

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…

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Sean June 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm

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!

I’ve been setting some lousy intentions like “I’m going to work so hard I will make this day at work go by quickly!”

I’m not even trying to wake up early in the morning to have a success ritual with Kung fu, meditation and ukulele while sipping green juice.

I’m not even sure what I should be grateful for, all I know is my family and friends are the greatest backers I know.

Except yesterday.

They were a pain in the ass yesterday.

I want to find my life’s purpose NOW.

BUUUUTTTT….

I’m overdue on this menu planning project for an upcoming juice fast.

#2 says I’m always running away from the unpleasant so I must be procrastinating out of fear. I know my life’s purpose is serving at a pizza restaurant 40 hours a week. Even if I look in the past, I fear I’ll see things I’ve taken for granted, like my uncle who gave me art supplies to practice with.

#3 says I should take time alone to figure out my deep why. Which is what I will do this coming long weekend!

Thanks Paid to Exist!

Your blog posts really get me excited to get out the matrix for good!

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Lovelyn June 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

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.

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Michael June 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm

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 think repetition is key. Repetition. Repetition. I realize that doesn’t sound sexy, but it works. I also think that putting yourself out there while you’re getting starting also helps. I just gave a toastmaster’s speech on my topic and that has been hugely beneficial. Not only does it remind me about what I’m doing but it further solidifies why I’m doing it in the first place. The feedback I get from people about how much my content helps them is amazing and adds further fuel to my fire… Also, and this is a tough one; I have learned to not offer unsolicited advice. Invariably I’ll get negative reactions from people that are not ready to accept the fact that their ego is causing all their problems… So I’ve learned to back off. Not so much for their sanity, but for mine. What we’re doing, as entrepreneurs, is hard. We have to learn to chart our course with the wind at our backs, rather than constantly trying so hard to blow into our own sail… Bon voyage Trailblazers! :)

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Jorma June 25, 2014 at 12:09 am

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.

I am now doing my best in proceeding with Get Shit Done, but I’m stuck at the Mighty Why part and it seems dauntingly impenetrable object to me. And what happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object?

Thanks to your posts Jonathan I can find more motivation to keep trying. You describe my inner turmoil, doubts and fears time and again in your posts and show that there is a way. I just have to find it for myself and my family.

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nolakes June 25, 2014 at 12:50 am

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!

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Aušrin? June 25, 2014 at 2:06 am

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 on our energy cycles as sometimes we have more wish and power to do things whereas other times it feels as procrastination. I think this fluctuation should be just accepted and outlasted.

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Sal June 25, 2014 at 2:13 am

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

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JP June 25, 2014 at 8:43 am

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 guess. Anyway, I guess I’m sounding too negative here–I’m nevertheless a believer!

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Daniel June 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

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 God has given me.
I want to write it because I crave the endorphins I get from a job well done.

now just to put these beliefs into my head/body/heart/mind/soul and act on them.

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Andrew N November 7, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Amen brother!

Sofia June 25, 2014 at 1:02 pm

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 core that our lives are worthwhile even without them in order to pursue them with true passion.

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The Wallet Doctor June 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm

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.

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Green Girl Success June 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

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.

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Dawn June 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm

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 June 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

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.

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Joshua Tilghman June 29, 2014 at 8:27 pm

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!

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Jonathan June 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm

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.

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Chandler June 30, 2014 at 10:10 pm

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.

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Meg July 10, 2014 at 1:57 am

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 means!) the only one.

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Lana Vaughan August 11, 2014 at 11:37 am

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

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lux8x November 14, 2014 at 7:23 am

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 just leave my apartment, cut off all bills, and just travel around the world while I work with my laptop. But an inner voice tells me that this is not a good idea, hence I’m feeling confused.

By the way, I am self employed because at some point I decided I didn’t want to be at an office, I didn’t want to work on certain hours. That was a great decision, quitting my job. But today, I guess that idea of mine, that hunger for total freedom is now making me want to cut out of my life other things that restrict my freedom, such as bills or rent. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe this is temporal, I don’t know, but my head hurts from thinking all day about this.

Thanks for reading and hopefully you have any thoughts that would help me!! :)

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Nirmala February 10, 2015 at 1:00 am

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.

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Jesse May 20, 2015 at 8:19 am

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? ????

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Shawn June 3, 2015 at 3:33 am

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.

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Shawn June 3, 2015 at 3:35 am

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.

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Freddy Abreu July 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

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!,
and the rebel hair that refuses
the lovely gone motherly hairstyle,
and always in mass we used to smile.

My sweet adolescence is done!
so I’m really sure the flower of the youth is gone
I feel like never in my life the sadness with no name
of dying for becoming a man,

Nowadays there’s no adolescence nor hearty smiles
but the exhausted sigh and premature face that always lies
in my soul just like a sparrow
sad of broken dreams and reading every night with sorrow

By: Merdano Silva.

Translated by: Freddy Abreu

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Lala November 19, 2015 at 2:59 pm

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.

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Haley December 3, 2015 at 5:29 am

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

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Karen May 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm

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?

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Roland July 5, 2016 at 11:30 am

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 like no matter how hard you try or how well you think, everything is pointless because in the end, it will not solve anything. You just live to stay alive. Less commitments the better. You don’t like it, but you’re just so unmotivated to do otherwise. :(

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Joniel December 14, 2016 at 6:40 pm

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 matter how hard i try to do something i can help but think that im already long gone fron myself, i get the same feeling of boredom or just plain nothing whenever i accomplish something, like if it was nothing new to me, and that goes for failing too. Nothing affects me, i always feels the same in the end. Im surprised myself that i managed to write so much, at first i thought i would only write a sentance. Yet again when i finish writing this its going to be the same result, just me laying down wondering why i have to do all the things i have to do. I know this is more personal but i do feel like im going to fail this semester in school, yet again i dont really mind it, as much as i want to pass i just dont simply care about it, whether i graduate or stay in the same grade i know that i will have the same result as i always do. All my family members tell me things like “you used to be so happy before, now your very serious all the time” and that gets me thinking so much, how did i become this way? I never had any violence or any bad health in my life, ive always lived that normal life everyone has, and somehow i feel so down and dissmotivated. I wonder if life itself is suppose to make you feel this way.

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Czarinah March 1, 2017 at 2:03 am

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 mind wants to climb but my physical strength is not enough. Is it because my heart does not coincides with my head?

Anyway, this article has helped me realized some things. Thanks much.

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