Overcoming Lack of Motivation: 6 Common Causes and Ways to Get Motivated

 “Nothing gets me going.”, “I don’t care about anything.”,I just don’t care about getting out of bed.”, you may have experienced these and other thoughts related to low motivation. Today we will focus on how you can improve your motivation by detecting and working on the underlying causes. Whether it’s depression, burnout, fear of failure, or some other factors that have reduced your power of will, we can work on them. 

Things may look grim at the moment, your past being wrapped in gloomy overtones and your future looking rather uncertain or negative. 

But we assure you that there’s a way out. And we’re here to help. Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation and we’ll discuss the details of the most efficient ways of improving motivation, such as depression counselling.  

Understanding Lack of Motivation

Lack of motivation denotes a variety of mental states and symptoms, ranging from melancholy, overwork, or dissatisfaction with your job, to mention only a few. 

Having to literally force yourself to get up in the morning and get to work, not giving your 100%, not using your time efficiently, these are just some of the consequences of low motivation. The consequences tend to converge, while causes, on the other hand, are quite diverse which is why it’s important to carefully understand the main cause (or causes) behind your volition issues and work on them consistently. 

The solution to your motivation issues, for instance, will differ depending on whether depression or fear of failure is the main cause. Let’s now dissect each of the main causes of low motivation:

Common Causes of Lack of Motivation

Depression

Depression, being one of the main causes of psychological suffering in general, is a very good candidate for the main cause of apathy in general [1]. If you’re experiencing low energy levels, feel sad and gloomy most of the time, as if nothing in life brings you pleasure, reduced motivation would almost inevitably follow. 

Burnout

Burnout is somewhat similar to depression and often they co-occur. The main symptoms of burnout syndrome are chronic fatigue, loss of job motivation, and an increasingly cynical stance towards your job, people, and the world around you. Burnout is primarily caused by working excessively; doctors, first responders, and generally people who often encounter a lot of suffering as a part of their jobs, have an elevated risk of experiencing burnout at some point of their lives.

But you can experience burnout in any work environment, whether it’s IT, marketing, finance, education, etc. 

Lack of Purpose or Direction

A clear sign that you lack purpose is not having a life vision, an abstract value that drives you forward even when it seems that things aren’t going well.

You may feel as if you’re moving through your life as if in a dream, being indifferent to things around you. You might feel as if everything’s “okay”, your intimate relationships, friendships, or your job, but nothing’s actually good. Things just happen and you move through life lacking a clear vision of where you want to be and whether anything you do has a purpose. 

Fear of Failure

An important sign that you fear taking (meaningful) risks in life is the feeling that you’re stagnating even though you know you can do more. Whether it’s being afraid to ask for a raise, changing a job that’s no longer satisfying, or changing your environment, fear of failure precludes you from making progress in life. 

Moreover, it’s not just that you’re not improving because you fear that you might fail, but you’re also not learning from your mistakes because you’re not testing your limits.

Physical and Emotional Exhaustion

If you’re sleep deprived, have a bad diet, or exercise excessively, chances are that sooner or later you’ll feel physically exhausted and this will lead to low motivation and the inability to catch up with all important things in life. 

Emotional exhaustion often comes from turbulent interpersonal relationships. If you’ve just had a nasty breakup or argue often with your partner, friends, or family, this will probably have significant consequences for your emotional stability. The emotional issues may overburden you to such an extent that it becomes hard for you to focus on work or find satisfaction in work, even though before everything was functioning well. 

Substance Use

The “I don’t care about anything” may also come from substance use. Due to a sometimes more relaxed societal stance towards substance use (from alcohol onwards), some people may start indulging in substance use without feeling that they are doing harm to themselves or others. 

Whether we’re talking about alcohol, cannabis, stimulants, or sedatives, apathy very often always comes because of their continued use. Think about it this way: you have a limited amount of pleasure that you can experience in a given amount of time. If you’re artificially inducing pleasure too much, chances are that you won’t be able to experience pleasure to a sufficient extent in your intimate and professional life spheres. 

Ways to Overcome Lack of Motivation

Overcoming Depression and Burnout

When you stop caring about your life altogether and feel depressed all or most of the time, it’s high time to start seeking a mental health professional. A trained professional can help you deal with your depression or burnout and improve your wellbeing via CBT, psychodynamic, mindfulness, systemic, and other therapeutic approaches.

To kickstart your improvements, there are things you can do on your own, such as setting up a good exercise routine or taking good care of your diet. 

Finding Purpose or Direction

Most people find their purpose in some or all of the following aspects: family/friends/partner, work, spirituality. In other words, you should think about:

  • Who really matters in my life?
  • What am I interested in? What gets me in the state of flow [2]?
  • What is the higher value/entity/force I surrender myself to?

Exploring personal interests, hobbies and values in this way can help you increase the amount of meaningful activity you can include outside of work or daily responsibilities. Doing this can, in turn, reignite passion and purpose. Whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, or engaging in your favourite sport, pursuing activities that bring joy and fulfilment can have a positive impact on overall motivation.

Overcoming Fear of Failure

Here are some effective, ready-to-use tips to start overcoming fear of failure:

  • Reframing negative thoughts: often the source of fear of failure are irrational thoughts like “It will be absolutely unbearable to fail.” or “I absolutely must not fail.” Becoming aware of these thoughts and their detrimental effect, and start challenging them will be a very important step towards reducing your fear of failure. 
  • Setting reasonable goals: fear of failure is related to highly unrealistic goals we set before ourselves. You can use the SMART approach to setting goals (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). This will be particularly helpful if your fear of failure comes from unreasonable and perfectionistic goal-setting [3].
  • Self-compassion: it’s crucial not to be harsh towards yourself. Ask yourself: “How would I react to seeing a friend fail?”. If it turns out your response would be kinder and more compassionate towards your friend, see if it’s possible to offer the same level of empathy to yourself.

Recharging Your Energy

  • Get enough sleep: to do this here are a few actionable tips:
    • No screen time at least one hour before sleep;
    • Use the bed exclusively as a place for sleeping (or intimacy/sexuality)
    • Avoid hanging out in bed during the day
    • Turn off distractions like phone notifications.
  • Healthy diet
  • Moderate but consistent exercise
  • Mindfulness practice

Seeking Support

  • Friends and family: especially when you have milder issues, friends and family might offer good support and relevant advice. 
  • Joining a support group: there are many types of support groups; support groups for substance use issues are especially numerous and have a good record of helping people. There’s support groups out there specifically geared towards people lacking motivation too.
  • Seeking professional help: finding professional help is the most straightforward and most efficient way of dealing with your issues. It may also be a must, if you’ve noticed your lack of motivation has started affecting several areas of life.

Improving Your Motivation with the Help of Therapy Central

We’ve seen just how many potential causes there are behind the simple “I don’t care about anything.” Whether you nothing gets you going due to an underlying depression, physical/emotional exhaustion, or some other cause, you CAN improve. Thinking about potential solutions and actionable tips is one of the most important steps towards improvement and by reading this article you’ve made one such important step.

When you don’t care about anything the world becomes a grim, grey, and boring place. After a while, things start looking as if there’s no way out. But there are, in fact, many ways out, and we’re here to help you find your own. Contact us for a free 15-minute consultation and we’ll immediately start making plans for a better future. 

[1] World Health Organization (2023, March 31). Depressive disorder (depression). Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression (Accessed: 18 April 2023)

[2] Cherry, K. (2023, March 28). How to Achieve a State of Flow. VeryWell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-flow-2794768 (Accessed: 18 April 2023)

[3] University of California (2017). SMART Goals: A How to Guide. Available at: https://www.ucop.edu/local-human-resources/_files/performance-appraisal/How%20to%20write%20SMART%20Goals%20v2.pdf (Accessed: 18 April 2023)

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