13 min read

Overcome your lack of motivation with these 13 simple tricks!

a woman lies in bed trying to overcome her lack of motivation
Fitness Editor
Julia is a qualified fitness trainer. She writes our articles about nutrition and fitness. She also makes free workout plans for our site.

We all know what it’s like to feel tired and unmotivated, especially when your to-do list is long and there’s no end in sight. In this article, we tell you exactly why you might feel that way and give you tips to overcome fatigue, apathy, and lack of motivation. Read on for 13 tips that will re-energize you in no time. 

What is lack of motivation?

When you lack motivation, you may feel overwhelmed, tired, and grumpy and not have the drive to get off of the couch. It can be extra difficult to convince yourself to do personal and professional activities alike, and you may find yourself saying “I don’t feel like it” more than you care to admit.

Of course, it’s perfectly normal to not be 100% motivated every single day, nor to be enthusiastic about every single task. For example, washing dishes is something you may never feel motivated to do. And a lot of people feel less motivated as the winter arrives and the colder weather and darker days begin to affect their moods. But there are more extreme examples of lacking motivation as well.

In more intense cases, you may constantly feel tired, weak, and unable to cope with the challenges of the day. Odds are you need to do these tasks whether you want to or not, but that doesn’t exactly inspire you to get going.

Depending on the severity level of these symptoms, doctors can differentiate between a slight lack of enthusiasm and a true state of apathy. In case of a serious or lasting lack of motivation, we recommend that turning to professional help. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.

The best way to overcome a lack of motivation is to find out what’s causing it. Apathy is a symptom, not the cause, and you may have to do some introspection to find out what the underlying issue really is.

There’s no denying that avoiding important tasks feels good at first. Though you may have an immediate feeling of relief when you decide to watch TV instead of working, your fear of doing that task is only going to grow. In this case, it’s not you who has control over the fear—the fear has control over you.

Do you need to worry about lack of motivation, fatigue, and weakness?

That all depends on you and how you’re feeling. It’s perfectly normal to feel fatigued from time to time, but you may want to look into it if you lack motivation for a while.

If none of our advice helps you overcome lack of motivation and extreme fatigue, apathy becomes a permanent state, and you don’t experience phases in which you’re feeling motivated, happy, and energized—or if you see your physical performance constantly declining—consulting a doctor is in your best interest. Lacking motivation on a regular basis is also a sign that something may be wrong.

A white woman folds a pillow around her head, suffering from a lack of motivation
©Lina Moiseienko/ EyeEm

Symptoms of lack of motivation

General apathy, or the feeling of not wanting to do anything, is one of the most common symptoms of lack of motivation. You may also be easily exhausted and feel too weak to perform any tasks.

Here are the most common symptoms:

  •       Feelings of fatigue and weakness
  •       No desire to get up in the morning
  •       Constant lack of energy and motivation
  •       Unstructured actions with little or no objective
  •       Lack of prioritization of daily tasks
  •       Distraction from important tasks by secondary activities
  •       Difficulty, lack of motivation, and avoidance strategies for not tackling (new) tasks
  •       Delaying activities until the last minute

If you recognize yourself in any of these symptoms, our 13 tips for overcoming lack of motivation may help you.

How to Remotivate Yourself

Below, we’ve compiled 13 tips that may help you increase your motivation. Of course, these tips don’t replace the advice of a doctor, and you should definitely contact one if you think something might be wrong.

#1 Take note of underlying medical issues

If the causes of your fatigue and lack of motivation are medical – or you think they might be – seek professional help. Nutrient deficiencies, an unbalanced diet, metabolic diseases, and various mental illnesses can cause feelings of apathy, fatigue, and weakness. And some medications may simply make you feel more tired and lethargic.

Our tip: Adapting your diet to suit your needs may improve the way you feel. You can find plenty of healthy, easy, and tasty meals in our recipe database to help you get what you need.

salad bowl layered with vegetables and avocados
©foodspring
see all our recipes

#2 Get plenty of shut-eye

Getting enough good sleep is key to preventing feelings of apathy. If you’re clocking the hours, but not feeling well rested, that may mean the quality of sleep you’re getting isn’t very good. Not to mention, fatigue and lack of motivation are often linked to insomnia problems.

Our tip: Check out our tips on how to sleep well to guarantee you always feel well rested.

#3 Plan your successes

Having clear to-do lists and a structured approach to your goals will make it easier for you to feel a sense of accomplishment. Nothing is more satisfying than crossing something off of your to-do list, after all. Success releases happiness hormones, which can help counteract lack of motivation.

If your brain is foggy, to-do lists can help you easily visualize what needs to be done. To-do lists help you visualize what needs to be done. Clearly formulated tasks serve as checkpoints that will remind you of your progress.

A woman in a pink sports bra and black leggings sits reclined on the floor of a gym
©foodspring

#4 Define your priorities

Every morning when you wake up, set clear priorities for each day. Obviously there are many ways to prioritize and everyone will do it differently, so take a quiet moment in the morning to think about what you need to do. Ask yourself what’s pressing, what do you want to do, and what can wait?

From there, order your tasks according to their level of importance. Set any deadlines you have for the day at the top of the list. When you’ve finished it, crossing it out will clear your mind for whatever remains. And, at the very least, you’ll feel like you did at least one thing!

Our tip: Achieving your goals is easier when you start your tasks in an organized way. Use our tips to find out how to get reach your goals efficiently.

#5 Identify and eliminate disruptive factors

Think about what distracts you from doing what you need to do. Is it the comfy couch, the newest TV shows, or even your smartphone? Distractions like these can make you feel like you’re not doing enough or being unproductive and make you lose even more motivation as a result. It’s a vicious circle.

Our tip: There are plenty of great apps you can install that will help improve your concentration by muting your social media notifications and blocking websites that you frequently return to. You can also try working for 10, 15, or 20 minutes without any distractions, then take a break for a predetermined amount of time.

#6 Find the meaning behind the things you do

In general, there’s a reason for every action you take. When we’re lacking motivation, this can be easy to forget.

Instead of doing the work we need to do, we use distractions like online shopping, scrolling through social media, and bingeing TV to immediately improve the way we feel. The next time you stop working to do something unrelated, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Then, ask yourself if you won’t feel better doing it after you finish what you need to do.

Our tip: Visualize your why. Make a mind-map of your goals. What do you want to achieve? Dreaming is also allowed. What does your dream life look like? Visualizing new ideas may open up new possibilities and paths for you.

#7 Celebrate the lack of productivity

You don’t always have to be productive, despite what our live-to-work society may have you believe. Continuing personal development is a nice and important thing, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your overall happiness.

But what’s the difference between being unmotivated and taking a break? That all depends on you. If you enjoy your free time without a guilty conscience, you’ll absorb much more strength from it. But if you’re beating yourself up the whole time, it won’t be very restful at all. Being able to give yourself such a moment is a form of self-love, and the amount of money you make or time you spend working isn’t tied to your worth as a person. You are great just the way you are.

Our tip: Think about how much free time you can give yourself. A few minutes once a day? A few time slots a week? One day a month? You decide your own pace. But give yourself time slots with no chores to do, no appointments, and above all, no guilty conscience. Just do what you want to do at that moment.

#8 Spend some time in nature

Walking in the open air can stimulate metabolism and strengthen the immune system. And walking in sunlight will stimulate the production of vitamin D and happiness hormones, making it easier to overcome lack of motivation.

Whenever the weather is good, try to make the most of it and get outside. Take the opportunity to gather with friends, enjoy good conversation, and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.

A white woman goes jogging on a path in the woods
©praetorianphoto

#9 Work out

Nothing beats a lack of motivation like working out. It gets your blood pumping which helps you feel less lazy, and provides you with plenty of endorphins that make you feel happy. Regular exercise has also been shown to combat stress. Basically, if you can get yourself to a workout, you should.

Our tip: Pick a workout and get started! We have plenty of options for whatever you prefer, whether your goal is losing weight or gaining muscle, or you prefer to train with body weights over dumbbells.

find your workout

#10 Create moments of well-being and happiness

Focus on doing things that make you happy more often. They don’t have to be expensive or complicated – all that matters is that they make you feel good.

Ask yourself what you would like to try and what you liked to do in the past, then choose an activity based on these questions. The next time you’re feeling unmotivated, think about the happy moment and activity you have planned for yourself.

Our tip: If you can’t remember what you used to like, think farther back. Ask childhood friends, or your parents, what made you tick in your younger years. Maybe reviving an old passion is just what you need.

#11 Live as you please

Sleep patterns, work schedules, leisure activities, work choices – you get to shape your life the way you want. You’re the one in control, even if you feel out of control sometimes.

Don’t worry about doing things to make others happy and instead focus on what you alone need. And if you notice you’re doing something that’s not good for you, it might be time to change it.

#12 Slow down your thoughts

What thoughts are pulling you down? Existential worries, fear for loved ones, past traumas, or any other theme can be at the root of your fatigue, apathy, and lack of motivation.

When you’re feeling really down in the dumps, do a reality check: which of these thoughts are true? Does dwelling on it improve the situation? Or does it simply make you feel worse? What might be a more productive approach to the situation instead?

#13 Focus on the positive

Though it sounds corny, focusing on the positive can really do a lot for your motivation levels. That doesn’t mean you have to be extremely enthusiastic about everything and anything. It’s simply about being aware of the little things that bring you joy every day.

A ray of sunshine, a beautiful encounter, time to enjoy a coffee in peace – the more you notice these happy moments, the happier and more motivated you will feel.

Our tip: Like anything, practice is the secret to noticing these happy moments. Try writing down one or two positive things that happened to you during the day each night before you go to bed.  Alternatively, try writing down a few things that you’re looking forward to when you first wake up. It doesn’t take long to do and it may help you focus on the positive side of life. Also take care to note your successes and try to see your difficulties as challenges, not obstacles.

You may find our 6 happiness tips useful, too.

What causes a lack of motivation? Some possible reasons

Take some time to think about what may be causing your decreased motivation. When did you first feel the symptoms? Did you recognize them and take them seriously? Or did you not notice them at all?

Is it possible to avoid the situations that caused these symptoms in the future? What would have to change in your life to achieve this? In order to answer these questions, you must first understand what’s causing your constant fatigue, apathy, and lack of motivation.

Whatever you’re feeling is likely caused by something physical, psychological, or some combination of the two.

Nutrient deficiency

Being deficient in one or more nutrients is one the main reasons you may be feeling the way you are. An unbalanced diet, awkward food combinations, poor preparation, and an unhealthy lifestyle can quickly lead to a deficiency of essential nutrients. Decreased motivation is an early warning sign that you may not be getting what you need.

When in doubt, check in with your doctor. But if you’d like to try to fix the problem yourself first, you might be missing out on these nutrients:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D from the sun stimulates the production of messenger substances like endorphins and neurotransmitters, which have a huge impact on energy levels and mood. Unfortunately, you can’t get all the vitamin D you need through food alone. Just a half hour in the sun is enough to get our bodies to produce 80 to 90 percent of the vitamin D we need. During the winter when the sun isn’t as strong, taking a vitamin D3 supplement is a great way to ensure you don’t develop a deficiency before spring.

Vitamin-drops-D3
©foodspring
try our Vitamin D3 drops

Keep in mind that vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means it needs a fat source to help it dissolve. That’s why it’s preferable to take these drops just before or after a meal.

Vitamin B12

Fatigue, bad mood, concentration problems, and apathy are among the classic symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is also known as a vitamin for nerve health and is mainly found in animal products. For example, foods rich in vitamin B12 are, liver and certain kinds of fish and cheese.

While omnivores don’t typically have problems with vitamin B12 deficiencies, vegans and vegetarians often have low levels of vitamin B12 and can also take supplements as a preventive measure.

a bottle of vitamin B12 drops
©foodspring
try our Vitamin B12

Warning: You shouldn’t take vitamins or minerals completely at random. If you think you may be deficient in vitamin B12, check in with a doctor to make sure before you start taking supplements.

Our tip: You can find the most important information about vitamin B12 in our free vitamin B12 guide.

Iron

Iron is responsible for supplying oxygen to the muscles and organs. Being deficient in iron slows oxygen transport and can make you feel tired and unmotivated as a result.

two bundles of uncooked spaghetti surrounded by fresh herby, cherry tomatoes, and garlic cloves
©Karisssa

Eating a balanced diet is the best way to prevent an iron deficiency, though it can be difficult for vegans and vegetarians because iron mostly comes from animal-based products. Eating iron alongside nutrients can also either worsen or improve the rate at which you absorb it.

Our tip: Discover which foods are particularly rich in iron.

Metabolic diseases

Lack of motivation may also be a symptom of hypothyroidism or another metabolic disease. Most of the time, these are accompanied by other symptoms as well, and definitely don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you think they may affect you.

Lack of exercise

Exercise keeps both your body and mind in top form, because it releases happiness hormones, stimulates your metabolism, and activates your entire body. If you exercise regularly, you are less likely to become unmotivated and apathetic.

An unbalanced lifestyle

Lack of sleep, irregular sleeping hours, alcohol consumption, and a lack of hydration are all things that make a person tired, weak, and unmotivated. Identify the habits that may be contributing to the way you feel and try to eliminate them.

Psychological causes of lack of motivation

Stress

A poor work-life balance and the constant race against the clock take away the joy and motivation from everyday life. If this is your situation, it’s understandable that you may feel like you no longer have the freedom to make decisions in your life. And on a biochemical level, long-term stress is shown to lead to increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and decreased endorphin levels.

Too much work or not enough?

Your to-do list should match your skills. If you only do activities that make you bored, or, on the other hand, stress you out, both of these can lead to a drop in motivation.

In your professional life, you may be able to do something about it. Consider changing what you do for work, or talk to your manager about how you can adjust your role to suit your needs. If you’re your own boss, develop your own solution strategies.

Figuring out what you need to do for yourself is easier said than done, of course. It’ll take a bit of introspection on your part, though it’s always good to chat with family and friends to discover what your problems may be. Most importantly, recognize that the amount of work you have to do (either too much or too little) may be the cause of your lack of motivation.

Fear

Existential worries, fear for loved ones, fear of being hurt, fear of failing – there are many reasons you might be feeling unmoored.

This fear can manifest itself physically, resulting in symptoms like shaking, dizziness, feeling tight and short of breath. On the other hand, fatigue, apathy, and lack of energy are typical mental symptoms that accompany anxiety.

Mental health issues

Burn-out, depression, and schizophrenia, as well eating disorders can all cause apathy in its most extreme form. In these extreme situations, we strongly advise reaching out to a mental health professional for help.

Our conclusion

  • Lack of motivation, fatigue, and apathy are usually symptoms of a physical or mental problem.
  • Physical fatigue and apathy usually go hand in hand.
  • Phases of lack of motivation are normal. But if they last a long time or prevent you from facing the challenges of daily life, seek professional help.
  • The best way to overcome lack of motivation is to understand the cause. That’s why you should always try to get to the bottom of the problem first.
  • Once you understand the causes, the right strategies to overcome lack of motivation often emerge on their own.
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