How to Get Motivated When You Don't Feel Like It

Saturday, 01 June 2019


Motivation is the fuel that drives our actions, but like any other fuel it can run out.

No matter what you're doing or working on, there will be times in your life when you feel you lack the drive to take action. Maybe it's getting that last rep in the gym or maybe it's getting to the gym in the first place. Motivation is what enables us to do things and without it, completing any action becomes near impossible.

The thing about motivation is that it's not easy to stay motivated all the time.  

This is normal for most people and there is nothing wrong with this. The key to staying motivated is knowing what to do when you feel like you've run out of motivation.

So how do you get motivated again when you're not feeling motivated?
Before we can figure out why we're not motivated, we first need to understand that there are different types of motivation. This will help to understand why we're not motivated, where we can get motivation from and what we can do to keep it.

Intrinsic & Extrinsic motivation
In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink talks about the two types of motivation. Intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation drives us to do things to satisfy our own internal desires.
For example, a person who makes music simply because they love music and enjoy making it is acting based on intrinsic motivation. So if we're doing something that we enjoy or is in line with our values or interests we'll be more motivated to do the action. If we don't enjoy doing something then we'll be less motivated to do it. Simple.

Extrinsic motivation drives us to do things for external rewards such as money.
A person who makes music to sell for a profit instead of just for the love of music is being

driven by extrinsic motivation. When you're extrinsically motivated to do something, you aren't concerned with whether or not that action is enjoyable. You're only concerned with the reward associated with completing the action. So for the person making music to sell for profit, if they aren't seeing any profit from the music they will quickly lose motivation and will eventually stop making music.

So to simplify, intrinsic motivation comes from our internal desires/values and extrinsic motivation can be seen to come from external targets/goals.

So why are you not motivated? Here are two questions you can ask yourself when you feel unmotivated to do something.

1. Do you enjoy what you're doing?
One of main reasons for being unmotivated to do something, is not enjoying the something that's being done.

In the real world it's just not possible to always do the things we enjoy. Sometimes we have to do things we don't enjoy. This doesn't mean we can't find motivation. It just requires a different perspective.

“Instead of complaining that the rose bush is full of thorns, be happy the thorn bush has roses.”

Don't focus on the fact that what you may be doing is not enjoyable. Instead, find an aspect of what you are doing that may be in line with your core values. Once you've found that aspect every time you feel unmotivated doing that something, remind yourself of how it helps you to develop that value. So if you are working a job that you don't enjoy, think about what aspects of your job are aligned with your core values. The day to day duties of the job may not interest you but the job may have aspects that are aligned with your core values such as persistence to find a solution etc. When you find that link between what you're doing and your core values, you will have found a source of intrinsic motivation.

2.Why are you doing what you're doing?
It's easy to be so distracted by the noise of life that you forget your reasons for doing things. And without a reason, what’s the point in doing anything? If the "why" isn't there, then the motivation won't be either. If you're feeling unmotivated to do something, maybe you've forgotten your "why" or maybe you didn't have one in the first place. Discovering your "why" is the key to finding your motivation again. Whatever it is that you're feeling unmotivated to do, ask yourself why you're doing it in the first place. Once you've identified your "why" focus on figuring out steps or achievable goals that tie in with your why. So for instance, you want to hit the gym regularly but have zero motivation to do so. When you're feeling unmotivated to work out, remind yourself why you started working out. Set yourself a goal of maybe just attending the gym twice in the week to help motivate yourself.

Combine Intrinsic & extrinsic for longer lasting motivation
The best way to keep motivation for longer is to combine both types. By realising how what you're doing is connected to your values you will develop intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can be realised in the form of short term goals/rewards such as money. Let's take a person who makes music as an example. Imagine a person wants to make a profit from music but at the same time they also love making music. The love for music will drive them most when they aren't making money, but when they do start making money that will add to the motivation their love for music already provides. This is an example of someone driven by both types. Finding your balance of intrinsic & extrinsic motivation will help to keep you motivated for longer.

How to stay motivated?
Have you ever gotten so pumped from watching a Gary V video that you felt like you could take over the world? Then the next day you're feeling so lazy you can't even get up to get the remote to tell Netflix you're still there?

It happens.

Motivation isn't like some magical pill you take once that will give you superhuman levels of drive and focus. Staying motivated takes daily effort.

“People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing, that's why we recommend it daily.”
- Zig Ziglar


Motivation is what you tell yourself every single day to remind yourself of why you're doing what you're doing and what is important to you. When you've found your sources of motivation get into the habit of reminding yourself daily of your reasons for doing the things you're doing. Remind yourself of how the things you do are aligned with your core values. Stay focused on your goals and remind yourself of these every day. Do these things and you'll find that you'll stay motivated for longer. If you do feel unmotivated again, you now have some steps to take to find that motivation again.

Thanks for reading.