No matter what position you hold or what industry you work in, lagging motivation can put a serious dent in your overall productivity and negatively affect your career. Unmotivated professionals may find it difficult to focus on the task at hand, see assignments through to completion or even attend to their daily responsibilities.
From a fear of failing to a lack of clear expectations, there are many possible causes behind a decrease in motivation. Whatever the reason, getting back on track before the problem spirals out of control is essential.
Below, 16 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their best advice on how to identify the root causes when motivation starts to lag, resolve them and avoid such pitfalls in the future.
1. Clarify Your Vision And Take Action
First, start by clarifying your vision and goals. Most people lack motivation because they aren’t clear on where they are headed. Then, move to take immediate action of nearly any form. You may think you have to be motivated to act, but motivation actually comes after action. Think about the last time you did something tough or scary. Immediately afterward, you likely felt motivated to do more. – Zander Fryer, High Impact Coaching
2. Reflect On Career Accomplishments Daily
Lack of confidence is one of the biggest barriers impacting motivation. Increasing your self-confidence can greatly improve your motivation. Consider implementing a daily practice of reflecting on and writing down your career accomplishments. This single habit can dramatically bolster your career confidence and help you regain your motivation. – Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, CaffeinatedKyle.com
3. Remain Optimistic And Focus On Success
Motivation and success are often directly related. I find my clients’ motivation is higher as they become more successful (as defined by them and their goals). However, before you reach your goals, if you remain optimistic and focused, things will usually get better. – Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.
4. Manage Time Better And Find Ways To Add Joy
Motivation slumps are related to time management and joy. First, spending too much time is draining. Whether it’s the same project that never ends or something that takes up all of your waking hours, the result is the same. Second, if the work isn’t connected to your personal energizers, then it’s like a slow leak. Interestingly, the solution is not about subtracting scope, it’s about adding back what you love. – Marita Decker, FutureCourse Education
5. Find Meaningful, Purposeful Work
The contributing factor I notice most with clients who are struggling with motivation is a lack of passion for the work they are doing. This often is a result of a job mismatch or unclear expectations from their boss. You can typically fix this problem by finding a role that allows you to perform meaningful and purposeful work and ultimately helps you become the best version of yourself. – Kaleth Wright, Air Force Aid Society
6. Get Into The Career Role You Desire
In his best-selling success book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill suggests that desire is the starting point for success. I would ask my client if they like their current job or position in their company. My priority for clients who are unhappy or lack motivation in their current position is to get them into the desired career role. – Mika Hunter, Female Defender
7. Consider What Is Blocking You And Go Around It
Lack of motivation to achieve something is often accompanied by distraction and an unwillingness to be present. Two actions are helpful to address this. First, face the here and now and consider what is blocking you. Second, choose to move around it. While that may sound easier said than done, take one step forward. Then another, and repeat. Seventy percent ready is good enough to go. – David Yudis, Potential Selves
8. Unblock The Subconscious By Asking Why
Lack of motivation is usually caused by a subconscious block, fear or a negative belief system. Getting to the root of the issue that is creating the block will reveal how to move forward. Asking why and really leaning in to reflect can create positive insight and renewed motivation. – Melanie Towey, Melanie Anne, LLC
9. Reframe Goals And Reassess Priorities
Burnout can be a contributing factor to a lack of motivation, causing dysfunctional habits and even a work-life imbalance. It may help to reframe the goal or take a step back in order to reassess the priorities at hand and ensure that you are still the right person for the task at hand. Management or peer support can offer a safe psychological space to rethink the next steps. – Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service
10. Make Sure Your Values Align With The Work
A common cause for lack of motivation is a misalignment between your work and your values. I see this often with midlife clients. It seems that as we get to a certain age, it becomes increasingly important that our work either positively impacts the world or, at the very least, does no harm. When you find yourself out of alignment in this area it can be difficult to muster up the motivation to move forward. – Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC
11. Connect To A Deeper Sense Of Purpose
You have lost the connection to the deeper purpose that is driving you. When you are connected to your deeper “why,” every moment at work feels meaningful. However, sometimes you get so overwhelmed with the demands of the business, so wrapped up in fears and worries about the future, that everything becomes doom and gloom. This is when you need to reconnect with the purpose that drives you. – Rajeev Shroff, Cupela Consulting
12. Address Strained Co-Worker And Client Relationships
Sometimes, coaching clients lack motivation due to their co-workers or the client from hell. To get your mojo back, have a team meeting and have an honest conversation about what it would take to make this a dream team. Agree on the execution and check-ins to monitor progress. To solve the client-from-hell problem, it’s best to have a discussion with the leadership team so that they can talk to the client about needed changes. – Kevin Kan, Break Out Consulting Asia
13. ‘Gamify’ Challenging Tasks To Make Them More Fun
Lack of motivation usually comes about when there is boredom. To avoid boredom, you need to be clear about what it is that you need to be doing. Make the task fun; “gamify” it. It needs to be challenging enough to excite but not so challenging as to force one to give up. Ensuring variety is key. – Rakish Rana, The Clear Coach
14. Take Action To Make Progress And Enhance Your Mood
Negative emotions about the task contribute to a lack of motivation. When you have negative feelings that you want to avoid, you may procrastinate to eliminate the feelings in the short term. That’s why it’s useful to uncover what you feel about those tasks when you say, “I don’t feel like it,” and then take action to make progress on the task and enhance your mood. – Sheila Goldgrab, Goldgrab Leadership Coaching
15. Assess Underlying Internal Conflict And Apply Self-Care
When a client struggles, there is usually underlying internal conflict. The person may be working on something that doesn’t align with who they really are or what they believe in, or there may be exhaustion and burnout that reflect an imbalance in the person’s life and lifestyle. In either circumstance, resolution comes from evaluation, assessment and the application of self-care to take new action. – Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.
16. View Mistakes As Critical Learning Experiences
Fear paralyzes. Low motivation often comes from a fear of failing. To combat this roadblock, you can learn to reframe your view of mistakes. Instead of viewing them as bad, view them as critical experiences for learning and growth. I encourage clients to get in the mindset of experimentation, not perfection. “Experimenting” brings about a playful freedom to fail and iterate as you go. – Glenn Taylor, Skybound Coaching & Training