17 Things to Do When You’ve Lost Your Motivation

A man sitting in front of his laptop looking tired and unmotivated.

“I was thinking one day and I realized that if I just had somebody behind me all the way to motivate me I could make a big difference. Nobody came along like that so I just became that person for myself.”

Staying motivated until you reach your goals and dreams isn’t always easy.

There are often roadblocks, plateaus and valleys along the way where you can get into a slump. Or a rut.

And feel like you’ve simply lost your motivation somewhere along the way.

So today I would like to share 17 tips, strategies and habits that I have used to find that motivation again.

I hope you’ll find something helpful here.

1. Refocus on doing what YOU really, really like to do.

When you really like doing something then the motivation to do it comes automatically (most of the time). And when you really want something then it simply becomes easier to push through any inner resistance you feel.

So if you lose your motivation, ask yourself:

Am I doing what I really want to do?

If not and if possible, refocus and start working on that very important thing instead.

2. Make a list of upsides.

Write down all the benefits you will get from achieving something, like for example getting into better shape or making more money.

Save it and then pull that list out of the drawer whenever your motivation is lacking again and review it. Or put it somewhere where you will see it every day until you reach your dream.

This is a powerful way to reconnect with your motivation and reasons for taking action.

3. Make a list of downsides.

You can combine this with the list of upsides to give yourself even more motivation to start moving and get things done.

Ask yourself:

  • How will my life look in 5 years if I continue to stay on the same path as now?
  • How will life likely become worse for me and maybe even for the people around me?

Try to see the negative consequences as vividly as you can in your mind to kick-start your motivation to start going for that positive change again.

4. Spend 3 minutes on remembering your successes.

If you lose your motivation then it is easy to get stuck in looking at your failures and so you get stuck in that slump.

So instead, sit down for three minutes and just remember your successes. Let them wash over you and refuel your inspiration and motivation.

5. Go for a bigger goal.

Set a big goal that inspires you even if it may seem a tad unrealistic at the moment.

If you have too easily achievable goals then you may find that they don’t give you that motivational spark and drive. When you start to think a bit bigger then you get motivated and your mind starts looking for the solutions that will help you achieve that goal.

Thinking too small can leave you with a “meh…” feeling or make you feel like you can do it later.

6. Or go for a small or tiny goal.

If having a medium-sized goal don’t feel too inspiring and a bigger goal feels overwhelming then try to set a smaller one instead. Or even just a tiny one.

A smaller goal could be to just workout for 15 minutes today or 5 minutes on getting going with your essay for school.

And a tiny one – if the smaller one leads to procrastination – could for example be to just work out for 1-2 minutes.

The most important thing if you’re standing still is to start moving and to build some momentum forward. So do that with one or a few small or tiny steps at first if that’s what will work for you at this time.

7. Remember how far you have come and compare yourself with yourself.

Comparing what you have and your results to what other people have and have accomplished can really kill your motivation.

There are always people ahead of you.

So focus on you. On your results. And how you can and have improved your life and results.

This is important because it’s a great motivator to see how much you have improved and how far you have come. Often you can be pleasantly surprised when you do such a review.

8. Reconnect with optimism.

How you perceive what you are doing or are about to do makes a huge difference.

The positive and constructive way of looking at things energizes and inspires you. It makes it easier to keep going even when you hit roadblocks.

So ask yourself questions like:

  • What is one thing that awesome about this situation?
  • What can I learn from this and what is one opportunity in this situation?
  • How can I or we solve this and what is the next small step that I or we can take to start doing that?

9. Work out.

I like this one because even if you feel too frustrated and down to ask yourself the right questions you can still drag yourself to the gym or wherever you go to exercise.

And if you just do your pretty mindless repetitions then your body will do the rest.

Endorphins and other chemicals will be released. Inner tensions will loosen up and leave your body.

Your negative emotional pattern will be broken. And new energy will be added to your body.

10. Talk about it.

Sometimes you just need to let it out and to talk to someone about your motivational low point. Letting it all out can release a lot of pent up emotion and let you get a new, more positive and healthy perspective on things.

Often we build our own small or medium-sized problems into big scary monsters in our minds.

Letting the monsters out into the light and letting others see them can make us realize that we were making a too big of a deal out of it all.

It allows us to lighten up a bit, to not take things too seriously and to start moving forward and find that lost motivation again.

So talk to a friend or family member. Or try an anonymous internet forum with like-minded people.

11. Remember to have fun.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the seriousness of a task and the stress and tension of completing it.

So remember that you are allowed to have fun when you are working on it.

There is no rule that says you have to be all serious about it all the time.

When you can, create fun in a task. Compete with yourself to finish it even faster than you did the last time, whistle a nice tune while working or have fun and joke around with your co-workers and class mates.

12. Start moving and let the motivation catch up with you.

Many times I have found it better to just do it and start working instead of trying to motivate myself to get going.

At first what you do may suck quite a bit and it’s hard going. But after a while inspiration and motivation seems to catch up with you.

Things start to flow easier and your work is of a higher quality.

13. Get accountability from one or a few people in your life.

Getting your goal, dream or new habit that you’re working on out into the world can make a big difference for your motivation levels.

So tell a few friends on social media what you will do. Or talk to one of them on the phone or in person and ask her to check up on you and your progress regularly.

By putting a bit of social pressure on yourself and getting some follow up once a week or twice a month you’ll be less likely to give up at the first obstacle or try to weasel out of your commitment.

14. Let the motivation from others (close by and far away in the world) flow over to you.

Spend more of your week with the people in your life that are enthusiastic, motivated or optimistic.

And let motivation from all over the world into your daily life and mind by:

  • Listening to positive podcasts.
  • Visiting uplifting websites.
  • Watching inspiring online videos or movies.
  • Exploring motivating books and biographies about the most successful people in history.

15. Have a bit of friendly competition.

Engage in a bit of friendly competition with a co-worker or school friend about, for example, who can finish a boring or routine task first.

The winner can get a free ice-cream, fruit bowl or something else that’s small but a motivating reward from the other person.

16. Take a break.

Yeah, sometimes you just need to take a break.

Perhaps your time-plan for your goal or new habit is just too optimistic?

Maybe you have worked harder than you can manage right now. Then take a break.

A few hours or days of rest and recuperation can change how you feel in a remarkable way and recharge your batteries.

17. Step out in nature for a bit.

Very few things in life give me so much new motivation and energy as being out in nature.

So I often go out for a walk in the nearby woods and focus on just taking all the sights and smells in and on breathing the fresh air without thinking about anything special.


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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Great post – I really need this at this time of year! It’s so tempting to just go into hibernation for an English winter! ;-)

  • hey that was a really nice article…
    Happiness more often then not comes in surprises and in places where we dont expect. Just posted a very touching story on my own blog about how a simple act of selflessness can give happiness abound..Do check out the story. Linked it here for easy access


  • Just came across your blog Henrik, what a wonderful resource. I have just begun blogging myself – The Wise Leap – http://www.innerveda.com/blog and while reading the internet came across your place here on the web. What a great article. You have mentioned many great points. Motivation speaks to different people in different ways. What works for one, doesn’t work for another. One thing I have observed that works very well with many is if they realize ‘WHY’ they are doing something. If that WHY is strong and logic or emotion around it makes perfect sense, reminding yourself of that alone, when you find yourself slipping can bring you back on track. Thank you.

  • 6. Remember how far you have come and compare yourself with yourself. – It’s true. I am more appreciative and thankful of each and every achievements I have made along the way. This keeps me more motivated to doing the things I have planned out. And instead of comparing myself to other people, I get inspired by their achievements.

  • Thanks, these are some great tips for getting back on track. I have a related post on why people procrastinate; it’s more complex than it might seem! Explains some of the reasons people need to get re-motivated in the first place. Your readers might find it interesting
    Keep the posts coming!

  • I get really unmotivated when I get distracted, so I try to set my away messages online and then use Focus Booster (free time countdown) to stay focused.

    • Herve Constant

      I realized that these tips are so useful so they can help me a lot. Sometimes I set up some goals, but the lack of motivation causes that I don’t achieve them. As you said, that is because I put them off for later where procrastination provents me from doing what I plan to do.This advices will help me to make some good decisions and work very hard to reach the goals that I set which can contribute to my success.
      Finally, thank you for these wonderful suggestions and I will give a try.
      Warm regards!

  • Cybvep


    You probably know the common mind trap associated with various motivation methods which gets you going only for a short period of time. In my case it often happens when I’m reading all those motivational posts or ideas and then realise that it took me three hours and I achieved nothing. The realisation itself can be very demotivating itself and it sometimes prevents me from doing sth that is more productive. What do you think can be done about it?

  • Anonymous

    Just found your blog and am loving meandering through all the good vibes! I, too, am in the good vibe making mode. Twinkle, twinkle, little stars!

  • Fabio

    Good morning everyone! Most of these tips are actually reflecting what I am trying to do it with myself.. I am about to change my career at 34 years old and when everything looks so difficult and complicated I try to see the exciting side of it! I’d like to think that when you love yourself you can see some potential which can not be ignored!The hard part it is embrace this love and do not let it go! This is the biggest kick that motivates me everyday more, even if it is not clear to me what to do next in my life yet. Love ourselves more than we actually do it is a great start. People around us they can feel it and I have notice that when this is happening, great opportunities are coming across our path too! This 17 tips are amazingly helpful and I can see myself in most of them, just remember that they must be followed everyday, no matter what! This is the hardest part, but it is up to us make sure to do so! Have a nice day!

  • Dipeeka

    I m reading this article in the early morning after my daily yoga session.this article is really very useful for me to find the motivation again. It’s really fantastic ideas given in this article to get motivation in life again.

  • This is quite an interesting Blog! We all need a “me time” so that we can focus on everything.

  • bipasha pal

    When I am really down, none of what you have said works for me.

  • My thinking is that we need some efforts to achieve the goal.

  • Ann Vokaty

    I think Life Sucks 99% of the time. Most of all, I am feeling bad about what happens to other people. Stuff I read in the news, etc. … I am extremely empathetic and even cry when I see or hear about anyone suffering, not only people, but wildlife, etc.
    When will the meek inherit the earth?