Can’t Get Motivated To Do Anything? Here Are 10 Reasons Why

cant get motivated

Motivation is one of the most important keys to success in life and at work. If you always find it difficult to get motivated to do anything, this article may contain the answer you are looking for.

Jim Rohn once said:

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

He is absolutely right. You need to develop good habits to sustain your action and consistency in what you do. However, never forget that it is the motivation that kick-start your habit.

If you don’t have motivation, you will never want to do the work. Even if you have transformed the action into a habit, if your motivation is at zero, you will still feel the reluctance to do it.

When an action becomes a habit, the resistance to doing the work will be greatly lowered. This is why you will find that doing something habitual is easier than doing something that is not part of your routine.

Alright, now we all know that motivation is important, and if you find yourself can’t get motivated, here are the 10 reasons why…

1. Inconsistent Belief System

Have you ever tried to motivate yourself but failed? One of the most common perceptions people have about motivation is that they think that they can get motivated when they wanted to.

The problem is that motivation has everything to do with your belief system. Think about it, if you want to do something, but the work is inconsistent with your basic belief, you will never do it for the long-term.

Well, you might do it in the short-term, say like for a few days, but eventually, your belief will win and motivation just don’t work anymore.

Conversely, if your belief is consistent with the work or the action you want to take, you will do the work naturally, without any motivation needed.

Take brushing teeth as an example. You do it every day without any motivation, right? Even when you just get up from the bed and feeling sleepy, you can still do it without your conscious thought.

Why is this so? The answer is simple because you believe that it is necessary and it is something that you must do every day. It is something that everyone does, and so you must do it as well.

You will do it every day without even questioning about it anymore.

When people can’t get motivated to do their thing, it is because they believe if they do the task or the work, they will feel pain. They associate pain with their work as a result of their beliefs.

Do you get it now? Why some people can be so committed and they are able to work 20 hours a day, while some people find it difficult to even work for just 8 hours.

Their belief systems are governing their actions. If you are earning $10,000 a month and are living comfortably, and you want to double your income but you can’t find the motivation to do so, it has something to do with your beliefs, not motivation.

To put it simply, when you don’t believe that something needs to be done, you will be having a hard time, struggling within yourself to come up with the motivation. The action you want to perform must be consistent with your belief system.

Do you think you will buy a lottery ticket if you don’t believe that you stand a chance to win? You won’t, you don’t even bother about it.

Changing your belief system can be a huge topic by itself. And that is why I suggest you read this article from Lonerwolf to understand more.

2. Feeling Overwhelming

This is a common factor that makes people want to procrastinate. Imagine if you have 100 items on your to-do list and you must get them all done by today, you will feel overwhelmed and wanted to procrastinate.

The same goes if the goal that you set is unrealistic to you. Most people learn that they should set big goals that excite them, and this is correct.

However, big goals often come with a totally different game plan and they require you to do something out of your comfort zone.

The problem with most people is that they set big goals, but they are not doing something different. Their action plans did not justify the results they want.

More importantly, they don’t believe that they can accomplish the big goals and as a result, their mind sabotages the idea of taking action because they know that it is not possible.

Never fall into this trap.

Never let your actions or the task overwhelms you.

When the task is too heavy, you will never want to do it. Just like being successful, it is not an easy route, this is why most people fail to achieve it. When things are tough, the chances of you follow through and doing the work will be reduced. Furthermore, you will have to do it for a sustained period of time, it will be even more difficult.

More is not always merrier. You should choose to focus on doing the important tasks rather than doing more tasks.

Multitasking Is Not Going To Work

Another killing mistake most people make is that they try to multitask.

You are not getting more done when you multitask. When you multitask, you are splitting your focus thin and your brain has to switch back-and-forth between tasks.

If you don’t believe me, just try to focus on two things at once. For example, try to read a book and talk on the phone at the same time.

Can you do that? No, you can’t. Chances are, your brain will focus on only one task. When you talk on the phone, you will have to put down your book. When you read, you will stop talking on the phone.

This is especially true when it comes to doing tasks that require thinking and uses your creativity.

So stop multitasking and start to focus on one thing at a time.

Multitasking, or to put it correctly, switching from task to task will consume a lot of your willpower and energy. You will feel tired quickly and lose your focus.

This is why when there are too many things to do at the same time, you will feel overwhelming and tend to procrastinate.

How To Prevent Feeling Overwhelming

Here’s what you need to do, read this article that I have published before. I have covered the concept of ‘how to eat an elephant’ and how to deal with overwhelming tasks.

Basically, your goals, your tasks, your actions, and your dreams can be broken down into bite-size steps. And all you need to do is to break them down into actionable steps and then act on those small steps.

move mountain quote

Lao Tzu said it perfectly when it comes to this:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Every success, every goal, every dream and everything that you want in life can be broken down into simple and actionable steps.

And this is exactly what you need to do to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelming.

When you turn a big goal into small action steps that you can actually act upon, things will become easy.

Now, once you have broken down your big tasks or big goals into smaller actionable steps, apply the Pareto 80/20 Rule and do those tasks that are important first.

You want to be effective here, so identify those steps that will give you the most result and do them first.

3. Lost Of The Meaning Behind

Why do you think most people can’t get motivated most of the time? The reason is simple, they have lost the meaning behind the work, the task or their goals.

A lot of people follow the crowd and set goals such as owning an expensive car, but that is not what they truly want deep inside.

And when this happens, they will lose their motivation because the goal of owning an expensive car did not serve their inner purpose.

You can see this phenomenon clearly after a few weeks or months down the road. When people first started out, they feel motivated and they have the energy to take massive action.

They announce to the world what they wanted to accomplish and they started strong.

However, things started to change after a few weeks or months. They started to feel stuck when they don’t get the result. They feel dejected and they can’t find the motivation anymore.

When their goals don’t motivate them anymore, they tend to procrastinate and eventually, they give up.

If this is what is happening to you, probably, you have lost the meaning behind your goals or what you want to achieve.

Have you ever wondered why people like Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Walt Disney or Steve Jobs did not set things’ goals? They don’t do things because they want to own a luxury car or a big house by the sea.

I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook because he wanted to be a billionaire or because he wanted to drive a sports car. Same goes to Richard Branson and Elon Musk.

Extraordinary people did not do it for the physical materials or shiny objects. Instead, they do it because they want to serve their inner purpose.

Shiny objects such as money, fast cars, big houses, yacht, etc, are just the byproducts from your hard work. They are just rewards that you get from creating values to other people’s lives.

Therefore, if you find yourself hard to get motivated, most likely you will have to revisit your purpose.

Ask yourself: Why do you do it in the first place? What are the purposes of your goals?

Giving Your Dream, Goals, and Life A Meaning

The solution to this has to be from within you. Only you will know why you want to live your dreams. Only you can tell what is the reason behind achieving what you want.

Some people are doing it for the passion. Some people are doing it because they wanted to serve others. Some people are doing it because they want to make their parents and family proud. Some people are doing it because they believe that they can make the world a better place and it has to start from them.

So why are you doing what you do? Why do you want to achieve your goals and live your dreams?

If you are doing it for the money, why do you need money? Keep asking yourself the ‘why’ question. You will eventually get an answer from within.

One of the best techniques I learned from the book, Millionaire Success Habits by Dean Graziosi, is called the 7-Levels Deep exercise.

In this exercise, you get a partner to ask you the why question for 7 times. It simply means that you will have to drill down 7 levels deep to discover your true purpose.

This exercise is especially powerful when you do it with a partner and do it seriously. You will discover and come up with an answer that is buried deep within you.

4. Getting Too Comfortable

When you become too comfortable, it becomes difficult to get motivated. Your habit plays an important role here.

Imagine if you have been lazy for the past 20 years, and all of a sudden, you need to change your environment and work harder than before. It will be extremely difficult for you to get motivated to change.

You have been conditioned to stay that way for years and now you have to change, and it will be difficult to do it.

Hence, don’t let yourself being too comfortable for too long. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. You have to grow and expand from time to time.

When things become too comfortable, you will be afraid to change. In fact, you don’t want to change.

This is exactly what is happening to most people out there. They are getting used to their daily routine and when something happened and they needed to change to a new approach, they complain and they blame.

Change Is Inevitable

Please understand that change is inevitable and there is nothing you can do to stop change.

Think about it, 20 years ago, you were reading information like this from books. Now, you are reading it from your computer or mobile phone. Things have changed, didn’t they?

So if you don’t change or if you don’t improve yourself, you will be outdated. The new guys will come in and get the promotion instead of you. Your competitor will take away your market and you will be out of business.

Businesses that did not innovate and improve will eventually go out of business. The same goes for you.

You need to learn to challenge yourself, do something fresh and learn new things to stay motivated all the time.

Get Away From Your Comfort Zone

In order to get yourself motivated, you must learn to challenge and stretch yourself. Get away from your comfort zone.

“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.” – Robert Allen

Here’s what you can do:

  • Read a book or two a month
  • Try out a new restaurant each week
  • Do something that you have never tried before – visit the museum, volunteer to help out, visit the orphanage, etc.
  • Travel overseas at least once a year
  • Learn a new hobby – cook, sing, swim, dance, etc.
  • Do sports and stretch yourself
  • Set and go for a stretch goal once a week
  • Do something you are afraid to do – giving a speech, say sorry to someone, tell someone that you love him/her, join a toastmaster club, etc.

So don’t let yourself be too comfortable in life. It is time to stretch yourself and make your life fun.

Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself from time to time.

challenging quote

5. Lack Of “Push” Factor

Most people find it hard to get motivated because they lack the ‘push’ factor. If you are living comfortably and are earning $20,000 a month, it may be difficult for you to find the motivation to grow higher because you are doing well all this while.

For most people, they are alright even if they don’t achieve their goals. For example, if your goal is to earn an additional $2,000 a month, and if there is nothing there to push you, most likely, you will find it difficult to get motivated to do it.

Simple, you are doing all okay and even if you did not earn the additional $2,000, you will still be doing alright.

This is why when you read the biography of successful people, most of the time, you will find that they are being motivated by desperation.

Brian Tracy has been living in poverty when he was young. And that was why he decided he wanted to make it big.

Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford Motors, and out of desperation, he joined Chrysler and brought the company back to life.

When you are in a dire situation, or when you have no other option, you will eventually find a way and did it.

You need a push from someone or something.

Making A Public Commitment

Sharing your goals or what you will do with the public is one of the most powerful ways to increase your commitment to what you say you will do.

When you announce to the people around you that you are going to do something, you are putting yourself on the line.

Imagine if you tell your friends, “Hey, you know what, I’m going to lose 10 pounds this month and I’m going to hit the gym 3 times a week for an hour from 630am to 730am.”

Once you have done that, your commitment level will increase because you will feel stress as others may check on your progress.

Better yet, you can make it a challenge by saying, “And if I don’t lose 10 pounds by the end of the month, I’m going to give you $200.”

How’s that for a push factor?

Of course, you don’t have to share your goals or your progress with the whole world. You can just share them with people who will support you.

Get an accountability partner so that your partner will check your progress from time to time. Plus, your accountability partner can remind you if you are doing the work.

Ever wonder why every successful athlete has a coach?

So that their coaches can remind them, keep them on track, push them, and make sure they improve and achieve their targets.

You can do this too, but first, you need to find an accountability partner.

6. There’s No Fun Doing It

When there are all work and no fun, you will never feel motivated to do it. I don’t think that people are lazy; they just don’t know how to channel their energy and motivation into the right place.

Some people find it difficult to wake up at 6am for work. While they can wake up at 530am and feeling excited for a game of golf.

Some people feel tired and exhausted when they reach home after work. And they don’t have the motivation to work on any other things anymore except watching their favorite drama.

Some people are able to stay up late just to play computer games or watch their favorite TV shows. Why is that?

Successful people turn their work into their passion, and this is why they are able to feel the excitement and have all the motivation to work.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Most people dreaded to work because they don’t find it fun or it is not something that they love doing.

However, when your work is fun or when it is something that you love doing, you will have all the energy to do it.

So find the fun in your work.

Inject The Fun Into Your Work

If you can’t find the passion in your work, don’t worry, you can still inject the fun into it.

Going to the gym alone can be boring, so make it fun by inviting a friend to go with you. Doing your household chore can be boring; you can play your favorite songs while doing it.

You just need to be creative and find the fun while doing it. I find it more exciting when I’m exercising at home while watching the TV.

You can choose to work your work by playing background music like what I did when I’m typing this article. You can find a partner or a group of friends and do the work together so it will be more fun.

This goes on to explain why most successful people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, and many others started with a group of friends.

When you are doing it together, it is more fun and you will be more motivated for the work. When you are doing it alone, who knows if you will stay committed and do the work, somehow, you are the only one that is accountable for your own success. There are no others to watch you.

Thus, find the fun, do it in groups or get yourself a partner when possible.

7. Stuck In A Slumped Mood

When you are stuck in a slumped mood, it will be difficult to get back up. For example, when you are disappointed or when you are frustrated, it is tough for you to stay motivated and focused on your goals.

You can’t help but keep thinking about the situation. For example, if you just got fired or your girlfriend wanted to break up with you, most likely, you won’t be able to concentrate at work.

Sometimes the slumped state may stay for days and even weeks.

Break The Pattern

When you are in a lousy state or mood, to get out of it, you have to break the pattern. There are two ways how you can do this.

First, you can change your physiology. You change the way you breathe, the way you walk, talk or sit and your facial expression.

Our motions can affect our emotions. When we are feeling sad, our body posture will be in a certain position. And to get out of the sad emotion, all we need to do is to change our physiology.

This is why people often said, “Fake it until you make it”. Try to look up at the ceiling and then make a big silly grin on your face. And then think about negative things that make you sad.

Can you do it? If you hold on to your happy facial expression, you can never feel the sadness. When you feel sad, your facial expression has to change. But if you put up a happy face expression, you can’t feel sad.

That’s how our body works. When you are feeling sleepy, stand up, jump for 5 times and then do a fist pump and shout “Yes” out loud.

The sleepiness state will be gone. If you don’t believe it, just do it right now. And you will see what I mean.

The second way to break our pattern is to change our focus.

When you listen to sad songs and keep thinking about sad things in your head, how would you feel then?

Obviously, you will feel sad. What if you listen to happy and faster pace music and then you keep thinking about moments that make you happy?

Almost instantly, you will feel happy.

Why is this so? Whatever you choose to focus on, you will get. Where the focus goes, energy flows.

manage energy quote

If you think about the sweet moments you have with your lover, you will feel loved. Conversely, if you think about how bad your boss has been treating you, you will feel a totally different way.

So choose to focus and think positively all the time. If you think that you can’t get motivated, focus and think about your victories. Think about things that make you feel successful. What previous achievements you have accomplished? What do you feel great about in life right now?

Hence, the next time you feel like you can’t get motivated to do anything, change your physiology, change your motion and change your focus.

8. Getting Distracted

When you always get distracted, you can’t get motivated and stay focused in your work. Distraction is one of the most common reasons people fail to stay motivated for long.

When they just wanted to build up their momentum, someone knocks on the door or their phone rings. They get distracted and they will have to rebuild their momentum again.

So don’t get distracted. When you are working on your computer and you don’t have to get online, then don’t. Disconnect the internet or switch off the wifi.

When you are reading and doing research, try to lock yourself in the room so that nobody can distract you.

Distraction is a big and common killer of productivity.

According to this article published by Time, we now have an attention span lower than the goldfish. We tend to lose our focus just after eight seconds while goldfish is able to focus at about nine seconds.

Therefore, if you don’t manage the distractions around you, they will destroy your life. With the advancement of technology and we can easily connect to each other through social media and our phones these days, distractions are everywhere.

When you want to start your work, your colleague will look for you. When you want to do research on the internet, you can’t help but check on Facebook for updates. When you want to write an article, you receive notification from one of the Apps on your phone. You get distracted too often.

If you can’t stay focused, you can’t get motivated for long.

Practice Active Time Blocking

This is one of the most powerful productivity techniques that everyone should learn and master. If there is one skill you need to learn, it is this.

When you time-block your tasks such as making cold calls from 9am to 11am, then that’s it. Within these 2 hours, you will do nothing besides cold calling.

You will have to reject other people who come to you and silent your phone. Better yet, lock yourself in your room and put a “Do not disturb” sign on your door.

Time blocking allows you to get the most important task done without distraction. It helps you get into the flow and more importantly, it increases your commitment towards the task that you promise yourself that you are going to do.

Furthermore, when you actively time block, what you are actually doing is that you are planning your day. You know from what time to what time you need to get your tasks done. It makes you more discipline too.

Thus, learn to actively time block your work throughout your days.

Remember, don’t allow any distraction whenever you are time blocking and working on your project. Or else you will destroy the purpose of time blocking.

9. Low Energy – Mentally And Physically

Another reason most people can’t get motivated to do anything in life is due to their low energy, both physically and mentally.

So far, we have been talking about managing our mental energy through focusing on the right thoughts, finding the fun factor, creating the commitment and also how to prevent overwhelming.

And when it comes to getting motivated, the first thing that goes into most people’s minds is that motivation is all about managing their mental power, which is just partially right.

If you want to get and stay motivated all the time, you need to maintain your physical energy as well.

How can you get motivated and driven to do your work when you only sleep for 2 hours a day? You can’t focus when you don’t have enough sleep and you feel sleepy every moment.

One thing that I learn from Tony Robbins is that success starts with our body and health. You don’t want to be the richest person in the graveyard.

So to stay motivated and go through your day beaming with energy, you need to get enough rest and manage your energy.

There is no point to work for 20 hours where you can’t focus and can’t produce great work. It is not about the quantity, it is about the quality.

I’d rather spend 3 quality hours a day to work on my goals with motivation than to spend 18 hours but feeling tired, sleepy, and can’t focus all the time.

If you want to produce outstanding work, you need to maintain your energy level. And here are some suggestions how you can keep your energy high.

1) Get Enough Sleep

Research has shown that on average, we require 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Sometimes we may feel like the less we sleep, the more time we have to do our work, wrong.

To perform at your best and to work at optimum productivity, you need to get enough sleep each day.

Thus, make sure you sleep for at least 7 hours a day.

2) Use Power Nap

A power nap is a short nap about 10 to 30 minutes. When you are feeling tired in the afternoon, try to power nap to replenish your energy. It will make you feel refresh and you will then be able to focus on your work again.

Don’t nap more than 30 minutes. You don’t want to go into deep sleep mode where when you wake up, you feel groggy and even more tired.

3) Exercise

To maintain your physical health level, you must exercise. There are plenty of benefits you can get from exercise. Our bodies are created to move. If you sit and face the computer the whole day, you don’t get to move much.

Over the long-term, this may cause you serious health issue. So get your body moving, exercise and get sweat.

In fact, if you study successful people like Richard Branson, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, etc., you will notice that most of them spend their morning exercising.

If these extraordinary people who are extremely busy find that exercising is important, don’t you think you should do the same too?

10. Focusing On The Wrong Thing

When it comes to time to work, do you think about how difficult or boring the task, or do you think about how exciting the work can be?

Most people find it tough to get motivated to do their work because they focus on the wrong thing. They think about the difficulties, how boring the work can be and they focus on the negative side of things.

Motivated and productive people, on the other hand, focus and think about the bright side. They imagine getting the work done, feeling satisfied and having fun doing the work with their partner or colleague.

Like what I have mentioned above, where the focus goes, energy flows. When you imagine how difficult the task is, you will feel overwhelmed and you don’t want to do the work.

When you imagine the task as being boring, almost instantly, you increase your resistance and you want to procrastinate on it.

So choose to delay gratification.

Activities such as watching TV, playing games, checking updates on social media, and sleep more than you need, will give you instant gratification. You feel good when doing it, for the short-term.

However, this short-term reward will never stay for long. Activities that don’t give you instant gratification usually will give you the long-term reward you want.

Imagine if you want to lose weight by exercising in the gym. You can choose to do it, but the result will not come to you that fast. Or you can choose to procrastinate, watch your favorite drama, play computer games, or any other thing that gives you instant gratification but will not amount to much in the future.

Here’s what you need to do, focus on the long-term reward. Choose to think about the future result that you want.

Focus on the future. Think about having the slim body that your friends admire, rather than thinking about how boring it is to go to the gym and choose to have fun playing games.


Having no motivation to do your work is normal, but if you don’t do anything to solve it and let it becomes your habit, it will destroy your life.

Motivation may not last, but it is one of the most important factors that will determine if you will live a successful life and achieve your dreams.

So you have learned about the 10 reasons why people can’t get motivated to do anything, did you manage to discover yours?

Let me know what you think about this article in the comment section below.

Shawn Lim

Love what you read? Let's share it:

1 Comment

  1. Great article Shawn.

    Most people lose motivation because they don’t have a strong Why. People are just following the flow, the crowd, and trends. It is vital to have our own personal Why, doing this will give us long-lasting motivation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.