At some point, many people may find they have no motivation to work. You might have a lack of motivation because you’ve had trouble sleeping, or your mind is on other things — like an upcoming vacation. If your motivation level isn’t super high at times, that’s understandable.
Feeling motivated can be more challenging for some than others. This could be due to some sort of issue affecting their physical or mental health. The good news is that if you notice a loss of motivation, there are ways to help you get back to where you know you want to be.
However, if you are feeling unmotivated in all areas of life or more often than usual, you may want to consult with your doctor or a mental health professional. There is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. But for the time being, let’s review some of the possible reasons you may be feeling unmotivated.
What Causes A Lack Of Motivation?
Sometimes, all you want to do while working is browse your social media apps or play games. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re working in your home office or you’re in a traditional office. It also doesn’t matter where you’re from, whether it’s the Lone Star State, the Buckeye State, or anywhere else.
It would be great if everyone experienced intrinsic motivation all the time. Basically, intrinsic motivation means working because you love it — the work is essentially its own reward. But that’s not reality. Everybody gets the “blahs” once in a while.
Why does this happen? Here are a few reasons why people can sometimes get in a rut when it comes to their jobs.
- Not seeing progress in your career – Just working for a paycheck and not moving toward your goals might contribute to a lack of motivation.1
- Worry about job security – Are you concerned that your company could go out of business at any moment? Does it seem that the work you’re doing really doesn’t matter anymore, because it won’t save the business? You may spend more time looking for a new job than doing the one you have. And that can zap motivation fast.
- A lack of communication – It’s hard to put all your energy into a job when nobody knows exactly what’s going on. Lousy communication can damage employee morale to the point that no one wants to do anything.2
- Disliking coworkers – There are instances where no one in an office really gets along. They rarely make eye contact, much less talk. On the other hand, workplaces where people feel close to one another may help to boost motivation levels.3
Lack Of Motivation And Mental Illness
For the vast majority of people, an occasional dip in motivation levels is normal – your to do list may be a little bit much to handle one day, and you might feel it’s not worth it. Too much stress – even healthy stress – can sap you of all your strength.
But in some instances, serious motivation issues might be linked to a mental illness or a physical problem. Here are a few examples.
This is basically the feeling you get when you’re not interested in, or motivated by, anything at all. Some people with certain ailments experience apathy on a regular basis. Fatigue could be an issue as well, compounding a lack of
A person with anhedonia can’t experience any feelings of pleasure at all – not even from things that typically make someone feel great. It could be the hug of a loved one, a favorite sports team winning a championship, or the super normal stimulus provided by a favorite food.5
Researchers are looking at ways to address anhedonia from a behavioral perspective. One mental health treatment approach is designed to make the brain more sensitive to rewards by having patients focus more on enjoyable events they’ve recently experienced.6
Avolition is another mental health issue that may lead to a lack of motivation. A person with avolition doesn’t want to do anything because nothing brings pleasure. They don’t want to eat or sleep, and they may withdraw completely from friends and family.7
Researchers don’t know what causes avolition, but they have some theories. Some believe it occurs because the brain can process dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain associated with pleasure. Others think avolition develops due to a problem with the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Still others believe it’s genetic.8
Again, if you are feeling unmotivated more often than not, or think you may have something going on with your mental health, seek professional help right away.
What To Do When You Have No Motivation
You might be facing a to do list that seems overwhelming, or experiencing a feeling of emotional numbness because you just can’t find the motivation to do what you need to do. You might be tired of waking up at such an early hour because you’re not a morning person. You might even be angry at yourself for your lack of motivation.
But don’t do anything rash. Don’t break your office window or destroy any other type of private property out of frustration. You might want to reach out to a mental health professional or other types of health services. You might also consider some of these motivational tips.
- Take some time for yourself – Get out of the office for a while if you can, just to get away from the humdrum and as an act of self compassion. Concentrate on leisure activities, so you can refresh and recharge. Anything that will get your mind off of your work could be a huge help.
- Remember why you’re working in the first place – This motivation hack could really give you a good perspective on your career. Are you saving for a home? Trying to put a child through college? Are you trying to stock away enough to retire? Keeping the big picture in mind might be the motivation you need to get back on track.
- Learn something new – It never hurts to add a new skill to your resume – it might even be your ticket out of a dead-end job.9
How Do You Help Someone With No Motivation?
It can be hard to watch helplessly as someone close to you suffers through a lack of motivation. Or you might be in charge of a team of employees who have simply lost their collective energy. You’re not in practitioner training to become a psychiatrist, so what can you do?
One thing you might want to consider is being an active listener when asking a friend or employee why they’re not motivated. Really take the time to find out what’s going on. That could help you come up with ideas on how to restore their “want-to,” so to speak.
Try to focus their thoughts on what they’ve already accomplished, rather on what needs to be done. Successful people know what they’re capable of, because they’ve done it before. Armed with that knowledge, they know they can take on whatever challenges lie ahead. Highlight the progress they’ve already made toward the goals that are in front of them.10
What Not To Do
It may seem that loss aversion – the fear of losing something (like a job) – would be a great motivator. Sometimes, though, it can lead to paralyzing fear. Trying to force motivation on an employee through intimidation and threats could easily backfire. At best, it will only motivate them for a little while.11
Whether you’re dealing with a lack of motivation, or you’re trying to get a friend or employee reengaged, remember that patience is key. Loss of motivation doesn’t happen overnight, and it won’t immediately come back. The more patience you show, the better your chances of regaining your energy – or helping someone else regain theirs.
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