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.

  • Thanks for your positivity blog. it has really been helpful and motivational ..keep up the good work.

  • These are all great tips. Since I’ve been working on my blog I’ve felt most of the feelings you mentioned.
    Starting and growing a blog is very difficult. At times it can be tough to stay motivated and optimistic when things aren’t happening fast enough.
    It’s very important to stay focused. To be optimistic and keep working towards the goals you set.
    Sometimes the people around us don’t understand and don’t support us. They think that starting any business is too risky, and better to just work a job instead.
    To that I say, working a job is way more riskier in this modern economy.
    I choose to pursue my dreams no matter what, and in order to do so, I have to stay focused, positive and never let negative energy suck the positive goals I’ve set for myself.
    So thank you very much for sharing.

  • Gauri Walke

    I liked your blog and i think its really very useful,thanks for making such blogs.

  • Tricia

    Wow! Great blog! I’m learning about motivation in one of my classes in school. Everyone’s ways to get motivated are different. I love how you explained how making a list of pros and cons. Knowing what can go wrong can get someone up and choose to do something to stop a bad future from happening.

  • Becca

    More than once (make that a gazillion) I have felt that I have wasted my dream and desires because I chose to take care of my parents and siblings. Daily my commuting time to work and back is approximately 3 hrs, and when I get home I need to prepare dinner, clean up, feed the dog, do laundry etc etc so much so I go to sleep past midnight; wake up the next day morning before sunrise and REPEAT Life.
    I still have dreams, ambitions, goals, desires but as the days go by I think I am getting tired. Just so tired that all I want is to curl up somewhere and disappear from life – not pursue it.

    And then the feeling of YOLO creeps in.
    What do we do? :)

  • This was such a great read.There were so many tips that I needed to hear that were as simple as remember my successful moments and to be proud of them. We may even need to set smaller goals rather then try and take it all on at once. Most important that I also loved is for us to also know when we need to take a break and reevaluate our goals and ourselves. Enjoyed all of these helpful tips.

  • Sam

    Thank you for this article, it was very interesting and helpful! It can be hard at times to always be motivated, and I think that these steps will really help people. I know that for me when I get stressed out and overwhelmed my motivation goes way down. Next time I am feeling that way I will be sure to use these tips!

  • Staying motivated is so difficult when you think that there is no end to the obstacles in life. I like the idea of spending 3 minutes remembering successes, going for a bigger goal, and remembering how much I’ve improved and how far I’ve come! I am definitely going to act on this advice.

  • Sicilia

    Spend more of your week with the people in your life that are enthusiastic, motivated or optimistic, I have some enthusiastic people around me: y parents! They are always happy, outgoing and working to build people up. They inspire me when I am down and so I work to be the same for my own children.

  • Amy

    I like the reminder to reconnect with optimism and the just yourself with yourself. There is nothing worse than someone who is a wet blanket on your flame of creativity…except when that person is yourself. The reminder to judge yourself against yourself is very wise indeed. We spend too much time trying to judge ourselves against other people’s reflections.

  • Streletsky

    In case of how to motivate yourself, I would recommend turning to psychology. Carl Jung wrote that the motivation of the source is in a battle of opposites in humans. When a person does not have enough motivation, this means that one principle prevails over another, which can result in even physiological problems. It is important to keep your life in balance, and when this balance is respected – the person will strive for self-realization. The tips that are presented in this article help to bring your life into balance.

  • Mohit

    I get soo much inspired from your blog.
    Firstly i seraching of topic to read for improving my english speaking fluently i find ur site start reading. After i am not just reading or improve english speaking but also get to the meaning that u want to say. So thanks for a great one ??. Keep going and make people’s thinging realist,positive and creative.

  • This is so inspiring, I really appreciate the time and effort you put into making this blog. This post has helped so much and I’ve bookmarked to go back to when I need a little push :)