Motivation is a process that controls and maintains certain behaviors. Eating chocolate, exercising, studying, and avoiding triggers to prevent an alcoholic relapse all require motivation. Everyone experiences lack of motivation from time to time. Staring at a stack of books not wanting to study, seeing a pile of dishes in the sink and not feeling like doing them or skipping going to the gym because you don’t feel like it are all signs of lack of motivation.
For some people, trouble feeling motivated can have negative impact on academic, personal or professional success. Low grades, damaged friendships or a demotion at work are all realistic consequences of low motivation. Addressing the root cause of motivation issues is the first step in learning how to reengage in healthy behaviors.
Here are the most common reasons for why people have trouble motivating themselves.
Depression. One of the most common symptoms of depression is called anhedonia, or the lack of interest in activities, especially ones that once used to be pleasurable. Depression can wreak havoc on academic and professional success. Treating the depression generally has a very positive effect on motivation and productivity.
Fear of failure. Many South Asians are raised by parents with perfectionistic attitudes. This teaches children and teens that mistakes are failures and that they are flawed people. This develops an inherent fear of failure, which is presented by avoiding work. Instead, people who are afraid of failing avoid the goal feels safer than trying and not succeeding.
Low self-esteem. People who have low self-esteem tend to believe that they are not capable of succeeding and often self-sabotage. They will miss deadlines, procrastinate, double-book or put in minimal effort so that when the project or task is not perfectly complete, there is something else to blame. Deflecting personal responsibility helps preserve a delicate sense of self that comes with low self-esteem.
Lack of interest. Some tasks are uninteresting and that makes them difficult to engage in. People require frequent rewards and if the school subject or project is not interesting enough, it is natural to not participate in it. This becomes especially problematic when students are involved in a major, class or career that is uninteresting. Their attention will be diverted elsewhere, resulting in poor grades or low performance at work.
Procrastination habit. Procrastination occurs for a variety of reasons, including feeling overwhelmed, being depressed, feeling anxious or fearing failure among others. When procrastination becomes a habit, it may appear that the person is not motivated in succeeding.
Stress or overwhelm. Stress takes up a significant amount of cognitive and emotional bandwidth. Some people cope with stress and feeling overwhelmed by avoiding deadlines or finding triggers to engage in substance use again. Lack of sleep due to stress or overwhelm can also make it difficult to feel motivated.
Exercise, taking a break from the task at hand as well as maintaining healthy eating and sleeping patterns all help in improving your mood, anxiety and stress. By alleviating some of these roadblocks, being motivated can become easier.
For long term improvement of motivation issues, try to identify the root cause. Addressing this underlying issue is the best and most successful way of improving motivation. If you are unsure of your root cause, consider seeking the aid of a counselor who can help identify it for you and provide you with appropriate tools to address the root issues.
What causes your lack of motivation?