Last Updated on January 29, 2024

Lost your motivation? Here’s what to do.

Standard self-help advice for low motivation is “just do it.”

They say, “You don’t need motivation, you need discipline.”

In other words, force yourself.

I’ve found this can work in the short-term.

But in long-term it causes more motivation problems.

Forcing creates inner conflict.

Clients will sometimes tell me, “I need to force myself to do it.”

That means there’s an “I” and “myself” who are now in conflict.

Often this becomes a drill sergeant part and an anarchist rebel part.

They are locked in an endless battle.

If a little forcing doesn’t work, we force harder.

Our inner dialogue gets more and more aggressive.

Our inner resistance gets stronger and stronger.

Round and round we go.

The more we force, the more resistance we feel.

Soon we struggle to do anything at all!

All of this assumes something:

There’s no possibility of you wanting to do it!

If you simply wanted to do it, you wouldn’t need any force at all.

You would in fact “just do it,” because you desired to do it!

So forcing actually decreases motivation over time.

It can work in an emergency, but doesn’t work as a way of life.

Instead, we can reconnect with why we want to do it in the first place.

When you’re connected with your “motive,” your reason for doing it, then will you have plenty of “motivation.”

Especially if you feel like you can do it.

Can Mode vs. Can’t Mode

Sometimes low motivation isn’t due to forcing, it’s because we think what we want is impossible.

So why bother!

Usually this is a limitation of our map of reality, not of reality itself.

There’s always something we can try.

And who knows where that might take us!

But when we believe it’s impossible, when we’re in “can’t mode,” we don’t even try.

This is the “freeze response” of the nervous system.

It’s helpful to realize that this your body trying to keep you safe.

If you don’t put yourself out there, if you don’t try, you can’t fail!

At least then you will survive…or so your brain thinks.

Switching Modes

When we’re in “can’t mode,” we are also disconnected from our “why,” our motive, our motivation.

Recognizing that is what’s going on is a helpful first step.

Welcoming this part of ourselves that’s trying to keep us safe is a good next step.

And then we can, if we choose, apply some method or another to change our state.

Once we shift out of “can’t mode,” we can start to see all the possibilities.

And this is exciting!

Then we want to do all sorts of things.

Until next time,
~Duff