6 reasons you’re unmotivated (and what to do about it!)

Prepared for PoppyLead December 2020 by Lana Kitcher, of LK Consultants

What is Motivation?

“Motivation is an internal process. Whether we define it as a drive or a need, motivation is a condition inside us that desires a change, either in the self or the environment (Reeve, 2018).” Quoted source.

A key question I am asked often is, “how do I get more motivated?”

Well, my dear, that is a very loaded question. There are so many sides to it and we’ll have to dig a little deeper to figure out what’s really going on and how we can help you get unstuck. For example:

Q: “What are you trying to get motivated to do?”

A: “I’ve been trying to create an eCourse for two years now and I just can’t seem to make myself do it.”

There’s no, one, simple answer to the questions “how can I get more motivated” or “why am I not motivated to do this?” And depending on who you ask, a biologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist, habit or productivity expert, you’re going to get different responses and opinions. Here is one side of the story.

Below I’ve outlined six common reasons and solutions for when you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated. Each situation might be different, so the next time you come to a task that you’re lacking motivation on, run through these scenarios, identify the culprit, and see what you can do to gain momentum!

Six Reasons You’re Unmotivated

(and what to do about it!)

1. You’re trying to fulfill an old version of you, your goal, or your business direction. You’re called to do something else and you haven’t been listening!

Going back to our first example, creating an eCourse was a goal you once had, but is no longer something that deep down you want to be working on. Either it is an old goal you think you should stick to, or you haven’t yet realized that it’s really not the right path anymore. This is exactly the scenario I found myself in just this year.

I had been “wanting” to create an eCourse for several years, I went through all of the steps and removed all of the barriers, but block after block kept me from doing the course. Failed attempt after failed attempt. It took trying an “akashic record” reading for me to finally open my eyes, and realize that my time would be better spent elsewhere - that I’d be getting more ground and fulfillment in a new area. I may still go back to the course someday, but perhaps when I have a clearer topic, and feel more passionate about bringing that material to the world.

Next step: Try this exercise

Have you forgotten your why? If you explore this, are you able to get back there? Maybe it’s changed? Write down your why, and keep asking why until you can no longer dig any deeper. What do you find?

2. You are looking at a project disguised as a task.

The project you’re looking at is a huge undertaking and when you look at the mountain, all you see is how high you have to climb. You need to break down the project into sections, and then break down the sections into manageable, tiny tasks. The very next task should be in its absolute smallest form. Sometimes you don’t actually know how to accomplish the next step, and need to bring in outside help – either ask someone a question, bring in a consultant, bring in an expert or a contractor, etc.

Next step: Try this exercise

Write out the very next task, as small as it can get, for the project you want to work on. Not something like “create the website for my eCourse” but rather “spend 20 minutes writing the first draft of my 'who is this for' pitch" or “consult for 15 minutes with Grace about the website she uses and if she recommends it.”

3. You're not using inertia to your advantage.

Newton’s First Law of Motion, or The Law of Inertia, states: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

This is the same for people, too. If you’ve gone a long period of time at rest, you and your body tend to want to stay that way. “Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum.” writes James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Here is his extremely well-written online article about motivation and how you can use habits to get motivated. His book is also highly recommended.

Next step: take action

Have you heard of Mel Robbins’s 5-Second rule? Even if it were something she didn’t really want to do, like get out of bed at 6am, she’d give herself 5 seconds to do it before the brain and excuses kicked in. Try that tomorrow. Alarm. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - I’M UP!

4. You’re just making it too darn difficult.

Maybe you decide that creating an eCourse still is the right next step. It’s in line with your goals. You’re creating a course that will make an impact and has meaning to you and others. You’ve broken it way down and you’ve solicited help… but you just still can’t seem to get it done!

Well at this point, you’re probably just trying to rely on ‘strategies’ like “time will pop onto my calendar” or “I’ll use willpower to get through this.”

  • Are you carving out time at your pique energy hours?

  • Are you saying “no” to opportunities that should wait, and take a back burner to this project?

  • Are you showing yourself and the Universe that you are ready to prioritize the project at hand, and carve out real creative space for it?

  • Are you trying to fit it in after a full day of work, picking up the kids, doing all of the wind-down house activities, and only then, at 11 PM sit down at your computer to type, knowing that you have to wake up at 5 AM just to start all over?

If there is absolutely no time in your day to create space for this project and you can’t possibly imagine letting any of those things go, then maybe you need to set this project aside for a while and pick it up at another time. If you’re not able or willing to sacrifice something from your schedule to get it done now, then maybe now is not the right time? And you know, that’s totally fair.

If you are definitely ready to make space, try making it a habit, and make it easy. There are lots of resources and strategies for how to do this. Make it obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. (Also from James Clear here. His book is basically my bible…)