Five things that are zapping your motivation … and how to get it back

Five things that are zapping your motivation … and how to get it back

No matter your IQ, credentials, skill set or experience, you won’t go anywhere in your career without drive and determination. Motivation is critical for success.

To get your groove back, you need to determine the action or thought process that’s blocking your path, and then take steps to change it. Registered Clinical Social Worker Cath Duncan has identified several common motivation zappers and how to overcome them. Five are listed below.


  1. Fear

Fear slows you down, which can be beneficial. But sometimes it’s all in your imagination. Too much fear may even prevent you from acting on new desirable and safe opportunities.

How to get motivated again: 

“To get motivated, you need to deal with your fear,” says Duncan. Name it, get it out in the open and thank it for trying to protect you. Then ask: Why am I afraid of that happening? What are the chances that would really happen? This can help diminish your fears.  If fears persist, figure out what they’re telling you about the research you need to do or the risks you need to address. Then build a plan to calm your fears. Include many small steps so you get a boost from each tiny success.


  1. Setting the Wrong Goals

Sometimes we set goals purely based on what we think other people want for us, not what we want for ourselves. Those goals can become toxic if they go against our true self.

How to get motivated again: 

Review your goals. If your body shows signs of tightness and constriction, that’s a good indication that you’re trying to follow toxic goals. Scrap the “should” do goals and make sure your goals are related to who you really are.


  1. Lack of Clarity

When you aren’t clear about a goal, your future will be vague. We often resist what’s unfamiliar and vague, and stick with what we know. Sometimes, we even recreate what’s familiar in a new environment, blocking progress.

How to get motivated again: 

It’s not enough to know what you don’t want. To move forward in life, you need to know what you want and go after it. That’s why it’s important to regularly write down your goals.


  1. A Values Conflict

It’s wonderful to have values that are important to you. But if a project or situation is testing those values, you may feel like you’re being pulled in two different directions.

How to get motivated again: 

Unpack your values conflict and play mediator. Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle so that you have two columns. Write about the two different directions you feel pulled in, one in each column, and summarize it with a statement of what each part wants.

Ultimately, all of the parts of you always want the same thing, because they’re all you. Hopefully, you’ll find ways to satisfy all of your values, but sometimes that’s not possible. If so, choose to prioritize a particular value over your other values for a while. This clarity will ease the internal conflict and your motivation will return.


  1. Lack of Autonomy

Duncan says, “We thrive on autonomy. We all have a decision-making center in our brains, and this part of us needs to be exercised. Studies have found that this decision-making center in the brain is underdeveloped in people who have depression and that if you practice using this part of the brain and making decisions, depression often clears.”

How to get motivated again: She suggests considering how much autonomy you have in relation to the goals you’ve been trying to pursue. “Are there areas where you feel constricted and controlled? Consider how you could gradually introduce more autonomy in your task, time, technique, location, and team, and then, if you’re employed, have a discussion with your manager and ask for greater autonomy in a few specific areas of your work.”

Read more from Cath Duncan here.

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