Motivation; at times a seemingly unreachable concept which some days just seem to be completely out of our grasp.
I myself find that some days I wake up with the energy levels of a flat battery. In fact, just this morning I woke up wanting to do nothing more than alternate sleeping and being a vegetable on my couch!
So, how have I overcome this feeling?
Well, recently I’ve been paying attention to the things that kill my motivation.
Being aware of these motivation killers has helped me to steer clear of triggers and process unavoidable factors in a much more healthy way.
Nine-times-out-of-ten (nobody’s perfect!) this has allowed me to keep motivated, or refocus my mind on the task at hand.
To help you fight back against the dreaded lack of motivation, I’ve compiled a list of common motivation killers to help you to understand and in future avoid your common triggers.
The 9 Motivation Killers You Need To Be Careful Of!
1. Negative People
We all know that one person in the workplace who never seems to be happy, or is only happy when they or others are unhappy.
But when it comes to our personal lives we can often struggle to be objective when it comes to the people we associate with.
Toxic friends can be a sap on your energy, or never want to celebrate your achievements and instead will try to bring you down by comparing your successes to their failures.
Oftentimes we keep this type of person around simply because we’ve known them for years, or they’re a friend of another friend of yours, or are in the same social circles.
While I’m not saying that you should immediately cut ties with this type of person, you should definitely sit down and have a chat with them.
They may not realize their negative behavior, or understand how it makes you feel.
If you don’t think a conversation is advisable, then try to meet this friend in group settings instead of one-on-one meet-ups as this will help to diffuse their negative energy.
2. Negative Bias on Social Media
Whether you love it or hate it, social media is part of our day-to-day lives and isn’t going anywhere.
On the whole, social media can be a great tool for networking, socializing, and making friends.
However, it can also be a motivation killer for many reasons.
- Firstly, social media is a time suck.
We’ve all settled down with our phone or laptop and had a ‘quick check’ of our socials only to look up and find an hour or more has passed.
When you’re looking to be motivated or have things to do, social media can contribute to you deciding to postpone your tasks for another day either because you’re no longer in the mood, or because it’s now too late in the day to start something.
- Secondly, social media tends to have a bias for the negative.
We’re all familiar with seeing friends’ sad status updates, or trending news stories that highlight the sad realities of modern life.
We absorb all this negative information often without realizing it, which often leaves us logging out of our profiles or switching off our phones feeling more deflated than when we started.
Therefore, if you’re struggling with motivation, consider having a social media purge.
Un-follow people or pages that spread negativity, and change the visibility settings for friends which are frequently unhappy to minimize the level of exposure you have to negative content.
You could also try limiting your social media time to five minutes in the morning and evening, or have a complete social media detox.
3. Worrying About Failure
Failure can be the nail in the proverbial coffin for motivation.
Oftentimes we become so focussed on perfection (often because of influencers on social media) that we let failure define us instead of our achievements.
Of course, this isn’t entirely our fault as the human brain does have a bias for failure, as back in our hunter-gatherer days learning to avoid threats and previous mistakes were essential to survival.
However, in the 21st century internalizing failure isn’t healthy, and instead we need to work to rewire our brains on how we view failure.
Failure does not reflect badly on you and should instead be looked at as a useful tool to assess what went wrong and adapt and grow to be able to succeed in the future.
Viewing failure this way takes the negativity and stress out of failure, meaning you’re more likely to dive straight in next time you’re faced with a job or task that needs doing.
Fearing failure can also cause us never to act at all, and postpone tasks, or even life dreams and aspirations simply because we’re scared of a negative outcome.
However, isn’t not trying at all a far worse example of failure than trying and failing?
First of all, you might succeed, and secondly, if you do fail, you’ve gained the skills needed to succeed second time around!
Put simply, the old adage is true, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.
4. Holding onto the Past and Fixating on the Future
We live our lives faster than ever before, constantly rushing about, working longer hours, juggling multiple things at once, bombarded with technology and social expectations, the list does go on.
All of this chaos prevents us from focussing on the present.
We’re always thinking to the future, the ‘what next’, or the ‘next week I need to do x and y’, instead of ‘what am I doing now’.
We also tend to simultaneously hold onto the past, lugging with us our emotional baggage, or yearning for times gone by when life just felt simpler or less stressful.
We don’t think for one second that we can have that simple time now, just by focussing on the present and not the future or the past.
Bombarding our mind by the history of our past can be de-motivating simply because of the stress it places upon us.
It can also cause us to make incorrect, or less considered decisions’ because our minds are cluttered and hard to make sense of.
All these feelings can impact our mood, making us feel low, and unable to view our lives objectively.
There are a variety of ways in which you can force yourself to focus on the ‘now’, including activities such as meditation or yoga, or positive affirmations which can help you to clear your mind and allow you to focus on the events of the day.
Mindfulness is also a great option as it forces you to focus on the here and now instead of allowing your mind to drift into the past or future.
5. Putting Others First
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with selfless acts or looking out for the ones you love!
However, many of us can often care for others and not give thought to how we are doing. It is important to put yourself first sometimes, something that I’m still struggling to learn.
You need to give yourself time to recharge and recoup depleted resources.
Make time for yourself more often, be this a long hot bath, or a nice walk, or event a giant slice of cake.
Whatever it is, sometimes we just need to forget everything else for a while and focus on our own happiness.
Focusing on others and not yourself can make you feel stressed will be a humungous motivation killer.
Intentionally inhibiting yourself because you feel you’re not worthy of success is something we can all do, even if we don’t realize it.
Subtle things like not reserving enough to time to complete a task in the way we’d like, or settling for the easier or second best option are all ways in which we can self-sabotage in our day-to-day lives.
This is why taking time for yourself to actively work on loving who you are so important.
Recognizing YOUR needs and caring for YOURSELF can help you to reaffirm your own worth and will motivate you to never settle for second best and therefore will mean you’re more likely to achieve your goals.
6. Envy & not realizing what you Already Have
There’s a reason why envy is called ‘the green-eyed monster’. It is able to completely skew the way you think, limit your motivations, and alter your perception of success in one fell swoop.
It is harder than ever to avoid feelings of envy in modern-day life as we’re constantly bombarded with celebrity culture and influencers flaunting their perfect lives, perfect bodies, and perfect home – the list goes on.
While aspiring to one day reach the heights of an idol is perfectly healthy, and can be quite motivational, but being envious is not.
Aspirations represent hope for the future, whereas envy festers and turns into resentment with no proactive conclusion for change achieved.
There’s a reason why it’s one of the deadly sins after all!
Now of course, nobody’s perfect, in fact, envy is something I’ve fallen foul to more often than I’d like to admit, but being aware of your feelings, and changing your thought process from feeling jealous to feeling inspirational can really help maintain motivation levels.
Instead of thinking ‘it’s not fair that x has y’, think ‘I really want the x that y has, what can I do to achieve this?’.
Affirming your wants in a positive way ensures that you’re more likely to achieve them.
Not realizing or appreciating what we already have is another way in which we can slip into envious ways as well as de-motivate ourselves.
The 21st-century person has, on average, more possessions than any generation in history, and yet we’re probably more unsatisfied than we’ve ever been before.
Why is this?
Well, we simply have so much stuff and are so busy, that we don’t take the time to stop and take stock of what we already have and/or the achievements we’ve already made, and the fantastic people we have around us.
Focussing on what you already have and the great things that already surround you can be a brilliant way to refocus your wants and needs and tailor your goals and motivations in a way that is not only sustainable, but likely to lead to a much more fulfilled life.
7. Being Impatient
As I’ve mentioned, the pace of the 21st century is lightning fast. Nowadays we’re not used to things moving slowly.
We become frustrated when a webpage takes more than 5 seconds to load despite the fact that just a decade ago that webpage may have taken 20 seconds or more to appear on our screens.
Put simply, we’re accelerating faster than many of our hopes and dreams can keep up with.
As the saying goes; ‘good things come to those who wait’, we’re just not used to waiting anymore!
Impatience is a motivation killer because few meaningful things in life happen instantly.
We crave that rush of excitement that comes with achievement and become unmotivated when this doesn’t happen in the time span we hoped.
Many people, me included, find that breaking a large task down into smaller milestones can help prevent this feeling, as each time we tick a step off we get a mini rush of excitable energy that propels us onto the next step and so on and so forth.
A basic ‘to-do’ list can make all the difference when it comes to staying motivated.
8. Losing Purpose
Lacking a purpose for your actions is a recipe for de-motivation and failure.
Often I have started tasks and gotten halfway through and thought to myself ‘what is the point’, I’ve thought for a while and found I can’t come up with anything and then I’ve abandoned the task.
Sometimes taking the time to affirm the purpose of your actions can prevent leaving a job half-finished.
Your purpose doesn’t need to be something momentous, instead, it can be as simple as ‘I’m doing this because I want to learn a new skill’, or ‘doing x means that I can move on to doing y’, and so on.
At the same time, it is also important to remember that not everything in your life has to have a reason.
In fact, we do many things such as watching TV or browsing social media without a reason, we do them simply because we want to, and that can be just as good for the soul as goals and ambitions.
9. Lack of Self Care
We often get so wrapped up in our hectic lives that we forget to take care of ourselves on a basic level.
We all remember habitual things such as washing or brushing our teeth and hair, however, how many of us can be certain that we drink enough water on a daily basis?
Many of us are actually regularly suffering from minor dehydration without realizing it, and even more of us drink a variety of other fluids aside from water.
Being dehydrated inhibits motivation because it causes fatigue and reduces our cognitive function, meaning that when dehydrated we’re less likely to make progress in our tasks.
Poor diet can also impact our motivation levels.
Have you ever gorged yourself on a delicious takeaway and afterward felt sluggish and slow?
Diets high in processed sugars and saturated fat are killers for energy levels and focus, and without the energy needed to complete a task, how are you ever going to feel motivated?
Of course, I’m not saying you need to eat nothing but salad to achieve your dreams, but you might find moderating your consumption of junk food goes a long way to bettering your motivation levels.
Lastly, neglecting sleep is only going to backfire on you when it comes to motivation.
You may think that staying up that extra hour, or waking up an hour earlier is the key to achieving more, but in fact not catching enough Z’s can cause feelings of de-motivation, fatigue, reduced cognition and even feelings of depression or anxiety.
Put simply, more time spent in dreamland is actually more likely to make your dreams come true!