“I don’t have motivation.” “Can you motivate me?” “Why can’t I get motivated?” “What’s wrong with me?” “I just don’t have the same motivation that I used to.”
Sound familiar? I’m here to help. I’ve got 5 things that may be behind your struggle, and some ideas to help you get back on track. But first, let’s reframe the idea that we “get” our motivation from someone else, or that someone else needs to motivate us.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about motivation is that if it doesn’t come from inside us, it’s not sustainable.
That’s because it’s our internal drivers that truly make us take meaningful action, not external motivators. If your internal drivers of action-taking don’t come from inside of you, they’re not going to last, they’re not going to work for you, and they’re not going to help you as much.
So let’s dive into these internal drivers right now, and find out what might be sabotaging them so that you can get your mojo back!
5 Reasons you may be lacking motivation
1: You’re bored.
You’re just bored as heck with what you’re doing. You need variety. Your body craves variety, and you need options. And it might be that you are just so bored with how you’ve been training because you’ve been doing the same thing for too long.
There’s no spice, there’s no excitement. There’s no flavor to it. And that can be a big reason behind why you’re not feeling the desire to take action, because motivation intrinsically is a “desire to take action.” It’s something that carries you forward.
But if you lack desire, it could be because you’re just totally bored and it’s time to mix things up.
2. You’re burned out.
Now boredom can easily dovetail into overload, which leads to burnout. You may be overtrained, exhausted, and not even realize it. This can be true of many things beyond exercise. Life is full of challenges and responsibility and sometimes you just really need a break.
You may feel like “why can’t I do more? I’m just not motivated.” It’s not really lack of motivation. It’s actually, you’re burned out. Your body needs to do more quiet, restorative activities. You just need to take some self care time, and restore yourself a little bit more.
You may need to give yourself a physical break from your training if you’ve been pushing hard for too long, or you may just need to start training with more balance overall, taking more rest days throughout the week if you’ve been doing “no days off.” And as this applies to your life, have you been doing “no days off” with another aspect of your life? Maybe you need a break from that too.
This one can be a sneaky one, especially when you are a high performance achiever, like so many of us are. But it is really easy to just give ourselves too much rigidity and too many rules around our training and not to actually hear the clear messages our body may be sending us that it’s time to take a break.
3. You’re overwhelmed.
The third reason is really similar to the first two, it’s overwhelm. This has been more and more common recently, with the regular stress of daily life piled on with all the new stress that people have had to deal with that started in 2020. Between all of the competing messages and the fear of the unknown, there was just so much happening that overwhelmed us and created massive stress in our bodies that we just became numb to, or shut down to.
It can become a huge challenge to find within yourself the desire and the drive to keep exercising or keep pushing yourself forward with these health habits that we talk about here all the time between the compounded stress of daily life with all the new challenges that were presented.
This is the best time to call in your meditation practices, your self care practices and breathing practices, to sit in stillness and in gratitude, to focus on doing the best you can each day with what you have – and removing all pressure from yourself to “perform.” This is the time for all or something, for loving what is, and for taking things one day at a time.
4. You don’t have things to look forward to.
So the fourth thing, which I think also is a part of this sensation of overwhelm that’s happening in the world at large right now is we all need things to look forward to. So many of the events that we look forward to – that actually serve as drivers of the actions we take towards our health and wellbeing – are not there right now.
Many of us had to cancel our plans for big events or trips we were looking forward to. Many brides had to give up their dream wedding, or really alter or change what they were planning to do. And we don’t even have those “micro events” to look forward to either – simple things like you’re going to meet your girlfriends on the weekend.
You know that you’re going to get together with your friends, do the social thing, or you and your family are planning to meet up for a family outing. Even a trip to go shopping, to get yourself something new is not as easy or simple as it used to be. And there are just different parameters, different places where you all live have different guidelines for what’s appropriate, what’s safe, what’s okay.
So it’s harder to find the motivation. I mean, when you think about these small micro events, even for the weekend, you’ve got a routine, a routine that used to drive a lot of your activities and behavior. If you had something to look forward to, you were more motivated internally, you had more desire and drive to work out, to take those healthy actions.
But when that gets taken away, when things are uncertain, when things don’t follow that same pattern, it’s very hard to shift yourself to finding a totally different set of drivers, and this is something that it’s very intangible. It’s not something that you may be consciously aware of. When there isn’t anything to look forward to, or get dressed up for (or even just get dressed for!) you might as well just lay on the couch right? This can be a huge saboteur in what feels like “lack of motivation.”
Now if you’re reading this long after the events of 2020 have passed, this reason can still be valid. It may be that you have just gotten stuck in a rut and haven’t created anything fun for yourself to look forward to. So time to shake things up! Plan a hike, plan to get together with your friends, plan something you’re going to get dressed up for.
5. You need to reconnect with your WHY.
This is really the thing that can help serve you and give you that drive and desire, regardless of what else is going on. This can help you find balance within all of it.
Really connecting deeply with why it is you want to take these healthy actions in the first place is a very important question to ask yourself. I’ll give you an example using myself. For me it comes down to thinking about myself as an 80 year old woman. I’ve got some time between then and now. I think about that woman I’ll be and how her life is. I think about being in control of my body at that age, of having access and freedom to make choices. And a lot of that comes down to my mobility and strength, if I’m able to move freely, if I’m able to have autonomy over the course of my life at that age. A lot of that’s going to come down to how I’m taking care of myself right now.
A lot of that is rooted for me in my own personal drivers of wanting to be in control of my body, not dependent upon anyone else, able to take care of myself, to defend myself as needed, to think and do and choose for myself what I want and what’s best for me personally.
So some of the way that you can get at the deeper why for yourself is to ask yourself a series of questions. You start out with the first one, which is to ask, why am I exercising? For a lot of us, we talk about how we want to look good. We want to feel good in our own skin. That’s a driver that a lot of us have, but it can’t be the only driver.
And it isn’t enough of a driver to keep us motivated during difficult times, because it’s just on the surface. And it’s one of those things that’s a great by-product, but there’s something deeper underneath it that we have to get to and deeply connect with so we can align with it daily.
So if the first thing that comes to mind is “I want to look good, and feel good in my body.” So then I ask myself, why? Why do I want to look good in my body?
“Well, because it makes me feel capable. And when I’m capable, I feel strong and worthy.”
Oh, well, why do you want to feel that way? What is it behind that feeling that makes you feel like you’re worthy?
“Because I feel like I need to be in control of my body. I want to have strength. I want to be able to take care of myself.”
So when you start to ask yourself those deeper questions and you start to get at why it is that you really want to feel that way, if you keep asking yourself the layers down, the why, the why, the why (and this will be different for all of us) then you can actually get at what is really going on, and discover deeper meaning behind what really does motivate you internally. What your internal drivers for taking action are.
Remember that motivation doesn’t come externally. And that’s why you have to be really careful of marketing messaging, because it can prey on some of our fears when it comes to our deep drivers in our desires. So we have to be really mindful of that and really, really tune into what matters to us as human beings and what’s going to serve us the best in our own personal journey of health and wellness.
So I just wanted to tune into these things about motivation today, because that feeling is an important one. If you feel like you’re just not motivated, it’s worth examining these 5 things to see if you might just be super bored and need a change of pace. Or perhaps you’re actually burned out and you need a break. Or you’re totally overwhelmed, and you need some support and self care. You might be missing out on having something special to look forward to. Or you might just need to connect a little bit more deeply with your inner why.
Do any of these things resonate with you? Do any of these make you feel like you’re connecting a little bit more with your motivation, with your deeper desires? Let me know in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
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