Types of Demotivation and How to Overcome Them – by Kelly Mubarik
This article of mine is featured in UNREAD MAGAZINE Issue 11. Read the Full Issue here: UNREAD ISSUE 11.
“There are seven days in a week, and Someday isn’t one of them!”
Spring is a time for new beginnings but sometimes we don’t have the inclination or motivation needed to make these fresh starts happen. You may be feeling demotivated about exam revision, your dissertation, work or doing things around the house. It’s possible you’re just in a little bit of a slump right now, lacking the will power you need to get stuff done. Feeling demotivated like this can bring with it a feeling of hopelessness, guilt and worry. It doesn’t help when you can’t quite pinpoint what it is that’s making you procrastinate. Fear not – here we’re going to address the possible reasons behind your demotivation and get you back on the road to success again!
You’re demotivated by burnout!
We’re a quarter of the way through the year by now and wow – what a journey it has been already! It’s no wonder you’re burned out! You’re exhausted due to taking way too much on and now you’re struggling to get going again.
Sleeping and taking the time out you need to recuperate from these hectic past months should do the trick. Once you’ve rested up, you’ll notice your drive and motivation creeping back. When you have returned to your usual energetic self, it’s important to realise you’re only human and you will get burned out again if you’re not careful. Think about what is honestly sustainable in your life and try not to take too much on. With all the will in the world, you can’t do everything to please everyone all the time! Always remember to schedule in ‘you’ time!
You’re demotivated by fear…
Fear holds us back way too often. It’s sometimes very hard to recognise this fear too. If your de-motivation stems from fear of failure or fear of entering the unknown, that’s OK – the first and most important step is recognising this fear. Daunting tasks like your final year project at university or starting your own business will of course be scary. Fear is programmed in us biologically to keep us safe. More often than not though, our fears are irrational and stem from our imagination.
“You need to face your fears”.This is a statement you hear all the time because it’s true and it works! Write your fears down, question them and contemplate just how likely the things you’re afraid of will actually happen. An example could be, “I really don’t feel like starting this project because I’m so afraid I’m going to fail it”.So, you’re afraid of failing your project? OK, so how likely is it that you’re going to fail? Especially after all the hard work you’ve put in so far. Not to mention you’ve got an impressive track record of passing every project you’re set, right? If that doesn’t work, what’s the worst that can happen if you do actually fail? You’ll have to do it again? Take it from an artist with a bin full of ‘failed attempts’ – sometimes it’s best to fail the first time because the second attempt exceeds what you had in mind in the first place!
You’re demotivated because you’re people-pleasing...
Making people happy is great – but not if it’s constantly at the cost of your own happiness. You may be feeling demotivated about completing a task because it is aimed at the satisfaction of others, with little or any benefit to you. Whilst I’m an ambassador for kindness and sharing and making the world a happy place, I have come to realise (the hard way) that your own happiness is just as important! I was always the first to put my hand up at work to offer my time…until I became burned out (leading back to point 1) by people-pleasing!
Similar to the first point, you need to be weary of how much you’re taking on, especially when it’s for others! I’m not saying you need to turn into a selfish Nelly– just that you need to establish the right balance between your needs and everyone else’s. Taking on too much for others will inevitably lead to demotivation about doing it, and quite possibly contempt! Avoid this by mastering the phrases “No”and “I’m sorry, I can’t”. Say it with a smile and enjoy being motivated about doing things for yourself again!
You’re demotivated by loneliness!
Although the last point focussed on taking the time out to look after number one (you!), let’s not forget that we are social creatures and can often get lonely! When faced with a hefty to-do list, we can become demotivated at the thought of having to do it hidden away at home.
Whilst it’s important that you don’t spend all of your time out with friends procrastinating when there’s a million things to be done, it’s equally as bad an idea to stay cooped up indoors for days whilst you’re completing your projects. Establish a healthy balance between socialising and getting your work done. Take regular breaks to ensure you’re fulfilling enough of your social needs to stay motivated.
You’re demotivated due to the challenge, or lack of it!
If the task you’re faced with is too boring to get excited about, it can lead to demotivation. On the other hand, if the job is too challenging, it can lead to a ‘why should I even bother’ attitude. Recognise that it’s OK to feel this way. We’re encouraged to keep growing, to keep learning, to keep moving forward in life. We can’t do that without goals that challenge us - and whilst we do need challenge, we need the right level of challenge.
If you’re demotivated because the job or goal you’ve set is too easy, remind yourself that just because something is ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’ it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Taking the safe option can leave you stuck in a rut. You’ll be left miserable because although you don’t have to try or make much effort, you won’t be reaching where you want to be in life. Don’t let fear of change or the unknown cause even further demotivation preventing you from your dreams (see point 2). You’ll feel the same if you’re letting the fear of a task being too challenging stand in your way too.
Reassess your challenge! Think about how you can change your job, your dissertation project, your blog (or your life!) to make sure it includes the right level of challenge you need in your life right now. This is not something you do once - you need to continue to check in with your goals to make sure they’re growing with you. An example would be if you’re turning up late to work every day because you really don’t enjoy your job. Find a new job! One that offers the opportunity for personal growth and development in the field you’ve always dreamed of being in. On the flip side, if you know you haven’t started your dissertation yet because you agreed to test your hypotheses on 1,000 people and the thought is giving you nightmares - go and speak to your tutor and discuss setting a more reasonable target for participants!
Demotivation can be triggered by many different things. By establishing what is causing your demotivation and to think about what you and your body need to make the task more manageable or appealing, you’re sure to be back to your productive self in no time. Remember, always be kind to yourself!