Why Motivation Doesn’t Last And What You Should Do About It

Nothing is permanent in this world, not even motivation. And because of this, most people find it challenging to stick to a good habit or a goal that they have committed. Yes, they feel motivated in the beginning, but the drive doesn’t last and it faded after some time. So what should you do about it? Continue to read on.

The motivational guru, Zig Ziglar once said:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Please understand that motivation is an emotion. It is a feeling that you feel inspired to take action.

And feelings come and go. You cannot feel motivated all the time. There will be times when you feel down, uninspired, and want to just get away or do nothing at all.

Now, don’t get it wrong by thinking that this is something you shouldn’t experience. In fact, feeling uninspired and the lack of motivation from time to time is a very normal phenomenon in our everyday lives.

There are times when I feel uninspired and no motivation to do things too. There are days I find it extremely difficult to come up with the energy and willpower to write articles, just like this one.

When people first set their goals, read a book, buy a new course, or attend a new training program, they are full of excitement. They are motivated and driven to take action.

Their motivation is at the peak, but as the time goes by, their motivation will slowly fade. They start to lose steam and eventually, they find it difficult to follow through and feeling totally uninspired to take action. Take a look at the graph below.

motivation graph

This is how our motivation works.

The Law of Diminishing Intent

This law was first coined by Jim Rohn, which states that “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”

And it is absolutely true. The longer you wait to take action, the more likely that you are going to procrastinate and not do it.

If you look at the graph above, our motivation goes down with time. So the more you wait, the more your motivation fades.

Therefore, don’t wait. Just do it. Just like the old proverb that says, “Strike when it’s hot”.

There are so many distractions around us. And if you wait and the moment you lose your focus, you will lose your motivation too.

Why Our Motivation Doesn’t Last

From my understanding, there are a couple of reasons why our motivation doesn’t last.

1. Motivation is an emotion and emotion comes and goes.

Nothing is permanent. There will be great days and there will be bad days too.

2. We fall back into our comfort zone.

We’re motivated when we first started, but after a couple of days or weeks, our old behaviors, habits, and beliefs kick in, making us want to stay in our comfort zone. And this is when our motivation starts to fade.

3. We get distracted.

Remember the saying, “Where the focus goes, energy flows”? When you get distracted by your day-to-day operation, you forget about your goals, and this is when you lose your focus and your motivation.

4. Feeling doubtful.

When you feel doubt, your beliefs will sabotage your action. “What if things don’t work out?”, “What if I fail after I have poured in all the hard work?” These self-talks will destroy your motivation.

5. Fail to produce results.

After you have put in all your effort and time and if you are not seeing any result, highly likely, you will feel dejected and inferior. This is when your motivation starts to wane.

Another thing you have to understand is that success is a long journey, and not a short sprint. And because of this, we have to endure and hustle through all the good and bad times that for sure will come.

Now that you understand why our motivation doesn’t last, and it is time to learn how to deal with it.

It Is About How You Respond To Your Emotions That Matters

The first thing you need to understand when it comes to daily motivation is that it is very normal for people to feel uninspired and lack of motivation to do something, but the key is not in whether you will have uninspired times, it is about what you are going to do about it when they come.

It is about how you choose to respond when you are feeling uninspired.

Are you going to procrastinate and not do anything about it, or are you going to build a system, so that whenever you feel no motivation, you can still take action and do what is necessary?

Just like rain, it is inevitable. There will be days when it rains out of a sudden, but that does not mean that you should let the rain stops you from doing what you want.

When it rains, you can use an umbrella to shelter yourself from getting wet.

And when you lose your motivation, you can do something to prevent yourself from falling into the procrastination trap too.

Here are 4 ways how you can make your motivation last longer.

1. Build a Habit Using the Pre-game Routine

The best way to make your motivation last is to turn the action into your habit.

For example, if you set a goal to run each day, what you need to do is to turn it into a habit. And when running becomes your habit, you will do it automatically, without much motivation.

This is just like the way you wear your clothes, the way you eat, the way you brush your teeth, and so on, they are all habits. You can do them without thinking and without motivation. You don’t need a lot of motivation to eat, don’t you?

So transform your action into a habit. You can do it by creating a pre-game routine. To put it simple, a pre-game routine is a cue. A cue to put you into taking action.

As a blogger, writing and publishing new articles are part of my job. However, there are days when I feel totally no motivation to write. I just want to play games or sleep.

However, I try to maintain my pace by writing a few thousand words each day and in order to do so, I create a pre-game routine. Each morning before I sit in front of my computer and start typing, I make a cup of coffee and enjoy it while writing articles.

And making the cup of coffee is the cue that hints me to start work.

Here’s another example. If you want to develop the habit of working out in the gym, just get change. Once you changed to your sports attire, you will automatically get to the gym. Thus, you should commit and focus on the pre-game routine of changing your attire.

Previously, I have written an article to cover this topic, you can read it here:

How to Build a Habit Using the Pregame Routine

The pre-game routine acts as a cue to tell your mind that it is time to take action. Just like whenever you see the food, you trigger your mind that you are hungry and you want to eat.

Learn to build a supportive pre-game routine and build positive habits so that you don’t really need so much motivation to work on your tasks.

So, here’s what you need to do – develop a pregame routine to cue you into action.

This is why people put their vision board in front of their work desk most of the time. Whenever they see their dream car, they feel motivated. Whenever they see their dream vacation, they are inspired.

The vision boards act as a cue to their minds. The vision boards are a great pregame that can kick-start your habit of taking action.

Oh, by the way, regardless of whether I feel motivated or not, once I have made the coffee, it’s a done deal. I will sit in my chair, face my laptop, and start writing.

2. Use the One-Minute Rule

Some people call this the 5-Minute Rule and some people call it the One Minute Rule, they work with the same principle.

The key is to focus on doing the work at such a small chunk that you will never have the resistance not to do it.

For example, if you think about going to the gym, when you think about the process where you need to get change, pack your additional clothes, drive 30 minutes to get to the gym, workout for an hour, get sweat, take a shower, and drive back, the entire process will kill your motivation because it seems like so many works to do.

What you need to do is simple, just focus on doing the work for a minute. In this case, what can you do within a minute? Get change.

And it is simple and easy enough to do. You don’t need a lot of motivation to get change, right? So just get change.

And once you change your attire, you are in motion and you will have built the momentum to do the following task, which is to pack and then drive to the gym.

This is what the One-Minute Rule is all about. Breaking down the process into bite-size tasks where you can do just one tiny task that can be completed within 5 minutes.

This principle works because you focus your mind on doing the easy task and you are putting yourself into the action mode.

You greatly lower the resistance and the motivation needed to complete the task. Read more to understand the One-Minute Rule:

How to Overcome Procrastination and Build Good Habits Using The One-Minute Rule

3. The Goldilocks Rule

I first came across this rule from James Clear. The rule states that if you want to keep your motivation high, you must make the task not overly difficult and not too easy to do too.

When something is too challenging to do, you will find it hard to come up with motivation and your resistance to doing it will be high.

And when something is too easy to do, you will never want to do it because it is just too easy.

Take sports as an example. If you are a world-class tennis player, playing with beginners will bore because they can’t even return your serve. You feel the most excitement when you play with other tennis players where their skills are on par with you, or maybe a little better than you.

On the other hand, if you are playing against other players whose skills are way higher and much better than you, the match will not excite you and you will feel it is too difficult too.

Thus, follow the Goldilocks Rule, make the task not too easy and not overly difficult either. Make the task just nice, and this is where you will have the most motivation to do it.

The same goes for goal setting. If you set a goal that is way out of your current ability to achieve, you will self-sabotage and never want to do anything at all because you know it very well that the goal is impossible to achieve at your current level.

At the same time, if the goal that you set is way too easy, you may hit it without much effort and then ask yourself, “Is that all there is?”

So make it “just nice”. Not overly difficult, and not too easy. When this happens, you will find the excitement to want to do the task and your motivation will be higher.

Read this article from James Clear’s blog to understand more about the Goldilocks Rule:

The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Business

4. Create a Scoreboard and Measure Your Progress

Another important key to keep your motivation going is to measure your progress. You cannot tell if you are making progress without measuring the results you are getting.

Let me be honest, most people fail at their goals because they are not measuring their progress. They only set their goals once, and usually, they did this in the early of the year, and then guess what, they never review or revisit their goals throughout the entire year.

And this, my friend, is the main reason people fail to find the focus they need, stay motivated, and keep acting on their goals.

When your goal is out of your sight, it will be out of your mind. You will be distracted by your everyday life and this is when you lose your focus. And when this happens, your motivation will slowly fade away.

Eventually, you are not doing anything with your goals and you will totally forget about them and then give up on them. Sounds familiar?

The solution to this is to create a scoreboard to measure your progress.

I learn this principle from one of the best goal setting books, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution”. It is a must-read book that I recommend everyone gets it.

There are a couple of reasons why keeping score is important, and one of them is to maintain your motivation.

Think about it, when you are playing basketball and you are not keeping score, do you think you and your friends are going to play seriously?

After all, there’s no competition since there’s no score keeping. Whoever scores didn’t matter at all. It kills the motivation to perform.

On the contrary, the atmosphere will be totally different when the scorekeeping begins. People start to play seriously because every point matters. It is about winning. And everyone and every team want to win.

You want to win in life too, right? So create a scoreboard to keep your score. You can measure your progress, make an adjustment, and also maintain your motivation as well.

Read this article to learn the importance of keeping score and how to do it:

Keeping Score: The #1 Reason People Fail To Achieve Their Goals


Motivation doesn’t last, and this is a natural phenomenon that happens to everyone. So whenever you feel like no motivation to act on your goals or to take action, it is normal.

But, it is not how you feel that will determine your result, it is what you do. How you respond when you feel uninspired and no motivation is the key that will determine your success.

More importantly, motivation is an emotion. And we simply cannot depend on our emotions to do things or to become successful in life.

We need systems and habits. When you have a system, you prevent yourself from falling into the “no motivation” trap. And when you develop habits of taking action, you don’t really need that much motivation to work.

So use the 4 ways mentioned above to develop your own system and habit of success.

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  1. Thank you sir for such a wonderful blog..I am so inspire from you…Btw i have written down all the great books you suggested to read……I an looking of my passion..Means what I am passionate about …It’s seems difficult to find out for me….So how can you help me in this matter by providing me your valuable guideline so that I should convert my passion in to profession….Looking FWD to listen asap…Thanking you a lot sir…

  2. You’re so awesome! I do not believe I’ve truly read anything like
    this before. So good to find somebody with some unique thoughts on this issue.

    Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the web,
    someone with a bit of originality!

    1. Hello Patrice, I’m absolutely proud to hear that. 🙂
      I truly hope that this blog and the articles I published here are going to be helpful to you. Cheers.

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