Demotivation is an invisible scourge among us, silently sapping away at our willpower. For those of us who feel like nothing we do matters, how do we identify the factors contributing to our dry spell? Further, how can we possibly overcome them? Don’t despair! Almost every problem has a solution. Below, you can find 7 things that grind us down and 7 pieces of advice in surmounting them.

1. Depression

Depression is slowly becoming the most ubiquitous mental illness in America. 16 million adults in the U.S. alone regularly experience major depression. Maybe it has struck you pretty hard, and you find yourself with little to no energy or motivation. The path that lies ahead of you is arduous but not impossible to surmount. We call it a mental illness because an illness is treatable.

Recovery is almost a certainty with proper care and treatment. If you can, get to a mental health professional and see if medication or cognitive behavioral therapy regimens may be right for you. There’s no immediate cure-all, but if you take it day-by-day, you can get better.

2. Stress and Anxiety

If depression is Daryl Hall, then Anxiety must be John Oates. Clinical depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder like to travel together and feed off of each other almost symbiotically. Even on its own, anxiety is an absolute motivation killer. We’re all already so embattled, how do we make time to minimize our anxiety on top of everything else? One way is to identify and minimize the stressors in your life and environment that contribute to your anxiety. You can make a worry list, or designate a period of time before you go to sleep for worrying. You can meditate and exercise. You can cry, you can phone a close friend to vent, the list goes on.  There are myriad ways in which you can effectively declaw anxiety. When you’re ready to try them, you’ll be one step closer to feeling better.

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3. A Fear of Failure

Failure is scary. Everything about human behavior is almost solely dictated by our past experiences – and no experiences stick with us longer than those where we failed. We often don’t consider that failure is a double-edged sword, so to speak. On one end, the pain and embarrassment that failure can potentially bring is a strong deterrent when it comes time to act. The other end, the one we often ignore, is that failure means that we tried and if we never try then we can’t succeed.

Wishing to be rid of your fear of failure is a fool’s errand because somewhere in that fear is a behavioral mechanism that keeps you safe in uncertain situations. Instead, try to accept and embrace the fear. It’s only a small part of you, and you contain multitudes.

4. Lack of Self-care

A house built on an unstable foundation will surely crumble. Likewise, a lack of healthy habits and proper self-care will cause a person to crumble. Self-care is a choice you make. It’s a choice to do the (sometimes) boring work that keeps your foundation strong and prevents you from falling apart. Self-care can be anything from leaving work at work, to exercise, to eating healthy meals, to taking a long and relaxing bubble bath. Be kind to yourself, the benefits are worth it.

5. Being Overwhelmed

You’re a busy person. You’ve got a million things to do and no time to do them. The sheer mental burden of all the un-done tasks and chores on your list is enough to make you shut down. How do all these wildly successful people manage all of their spinning plates? A lot of them take it one day at a time. They “chunk” tasks and bits of information. Large tasks get broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. It’s one thing to think “I have to clean the entire house” – that task is so huge and vague, of course, you’re going to feel overwhelmed in approaching it. But when you break that down into smaller tasks, it becomes way easier to deal with. Picture how you feel thinking “the entire house has to be cleaned” versus “I have to scrub the tub first” or “All I have to do right now is pick up dirty clothes and put them in the basket.” This methodology can save you a lot of hassle come crunch time.

6. Lack of Goals

A person without goals is like a boat without a sail – directionless, adrift, at the mercy of big, hungry fish. Even Sisyphus had goals, and after all, one must imagine Sisyphus happy. It could be said that purpose and achievement are fundamental requirements in the grand ol’ pursuit of happiness. What better motivation-fulfiller than the aforementioned pursuit? You’ll want to set attainable goals, even if they’re small. You want to get as specific as possible. If your goal is to “get fit,” you’ll never attain it. “Getting fit” is so vague that you’ll have no idea how to even proceed with your approach. Instead, use hard numbers: “I want to lose 10 pounds.” Once you have this goal set, you’ll be able to formulate an actionable plan to get there.


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7. You’re Afraid to Ask for Help

When we get off track and have no clue how to re-orient ourselves, it can really chew away at our mojo. Sometimes the most effective thing we can do is ask for help. But a lot of people are afraid to ask for help – they’re afraid of rejection, of being seen as foolish or lazy. This is another instance in which we have to do the careful work of dismantling our habitual expectations. Human beings are naturally inclined to cooperate. How else would we have built the empire state building? Generally speaking, your colleagues would love to help you. Sharing advice and wisdom connects us, and a connection is essential. Next time you get stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for a hand.

Demotivation is serious, but it’s not unstoppable. You, however, will be. If you take the proper steps to identify and combat the things that kill your motivation, you’ll be in good shape. Maybe even great shape? Nothing is impossible for you, dear reader.

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