7 Reasons Motivation Doesn’t Work

We’ve all had those times where we just can’t seem to get into it. Perhaps we have a hard time to finish our job, to stay focus, or maybe we’re feeling particularly exhausted. We already did all the steps to stay motivated and followed all the ways to stay focused, but it seems we still can’t focus on our work.

Here we’re going to explore all seven reasons motivation doesn’t work and how to be motivated to achieve all of your success goals. Without further ado, here are the seven reasons why motivation doesn’t work.

1. Your Goal is Too Small


It’s difficult for anyone to get motivated to achieve a small goal. Our motivation might not work because the outcome achieved is not equal to the effort required for success.

For example, if we have to get up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to work out at the gym for 2 hours only to lose 1 lb. of weight per month, we may not be very motivated.

Then how to overcome it?

If you are not motivated because of a small goal, gradually increase the goal’s size until you feel the stir of motivation inside you. It may take some time and experimentation, but you’ll know you have the right-sized goal when you find it. How will you know?

You’ll want to take immediate action. If you want to get started right away, you know you have a motivating goal.

2. Your Goal is Too Big


On the other hand, your goal may be too big. We may be too overwhelmed to be motivated. When our goal is too big, we often find ourselves making excuses, talking ourselves out of action, and suffering a kind of emotional paralysis instead of forwarding movement.

Then how to overcome it?

If our goal is too big, we can slowly reduce the goal’s size until we sense the overwhelming feelings fade. You will know when you shrink your goal to a digestible size when you are ready to take action when you see a clear way forward.

3. Your Goal is All in Your Head

Sometimes motivation doesn’t work because our goals are based on logic and lack emotional fuel. Without a passionate foundation of feelings, it’s difficult for any of us to get motivated.

Many people mistakenly think that all goals should solely be data-driven without any leverage from our emotions. To state it starkly, some people don’t think emotions are all that important.

The truth is that motivation, itself, is an emotional state of urgency. Data and logic should inform our goals, but they should not replace feeling.

Then how to overcome it?

The key here is to redraft your goals into a compelling vision that excites you. You want to design a future that lights you up inside. You want goals that move both your mind and your heart. How do you design more emotionally compelling goals?

  • You make your goals bigger.
  • You connect your goals to your deepest values.
  • You focus on the emotional states you will gain when you accomplish your goals, like your satisfaction, significance, and joy.

4. Your Goals are Confusing


Unclear or foggy goals will kill motivation quickly. Confusion, in a way, is the enemy of motivation. After all, it’s hard to be excited about something you don’t understand. Challenge and intrigue are one thing, but complete confusion often leaves us frustrated and trapped in unknowing.

Then how to overcome it?

Set clear goals with individual steps, milestones, and timelines. The clearer our goals, the more likely we are to be motivated to take the next step. This is because we can see how the next step will get us closer to our ultimate vision.

To gain clarity on your goals, ask yourself the following types of questions:

  • Ultimately, what do I want to achieve?
  • What will success look like, specifically?
  • How will I know when I get what I want?
  • If I had to choose one thing to accomplish in this project or process, what would that one thing be?
  • What’s the next step that will get me closer to my ultimate goal?

5. Your Goals are Secondary Right Now

Perhaps you don’t feel motivated because there are other more pressing issues in your life right now. All of us experience setbacks, challenges, health scares, relationship trouble, and periods of higher stress.

All of these factors can prevent us from feeling very motivated toward our current goal. Sometimes, we even give up on our goals completely because of higher priorities.

Even though we know it’s the right decision for the moment, we can still feel guilty and ashamed, as if we somehow failed ourselves. This can initiate an unhealthy cycle where we beat ourselves internally, which creates more frustration and failure. Then we repeat the cycle.

Then how to overcome it?

There will be times when we will need to temporarily take a step back from our goals to focus on other more pressing priorities, like health, other work projects, and personal relationships. It’s helpful to validate our prioritization at the moment and not to judge ourselves for temporary circumstances.

Proper planning and contingency planning can help us immensely prevent and minimize the impact of these seasonal setbacks.

6. Your Goals are Stuck within Emotional


Sometimes unprocessed emotions over other life events prevent us from feeling motivated toward our goals. This means there is nothing wrong with the goal nor our motivation to achieve it.

In this case, the issue is that we have not dealt with the emotional repercussions in one or more areas of our life. It might be that we feel guilt, loss, anger, anxiety, or even some level of depression. Unresolved and unprocessed emotions can wreak havoc on our motivation.

Then how to overcome it?

The solution to this motivational malaise is the proper processing of our emotions. A simple method is to gently acknowledge and give ourselves permission to feel the feeling without judgment, self-criticism, or blame.

7. Your Goal is Misaligned

The final reason why you might not be motivated is that your goal might be misaligned with your beliefs about yourself. You may not see yourself as someone capable of achieving the goal.

As human beings, we act in accordance with what we believe about ourselves. Our personal identity dictates our behavior. Therefore, our lack of motivation may signal that the goal is out of alignment with our personal version of how we see ourselves.

Then how to overcome it?

We actually have two solutions here. We can either change the goal to match our view of ourselves or change our view of ourselves, over time, through various strategies like positive affirmations.

There is no right or wrong solution to this motivational challenge. In some cases, we may want to shift our goal to align with our personal identity. This may make sense if the goal is somehow outside of our personal boundaries, standards, or ethics.

Conversely, we may be mistakenly imposing limitations on ourselves based on bad data or past experiences that don’t apply to this new goal.

For example, we may not feel motivated to learn new courses constantly. At first, we feel very excited to learn new courses to improve our skills, but at some point in the past, we may feel we don’t want to continue those courses.

That’s not because those courses were not great, but at that time, you had multiple jobs that needed to be done or maybe have some personal problem with your friends. You can finish all the jobs first or take some break and then continue learning new things from those courses to improve your skills.

That past reality may not be true now. We may now have more time and flexibility in our schedules to be more consistent.

set goal properly quotes

A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
Zig Ziglar


As you read through this article, I hope that you can relate to some of the reasons why you might not be motivated. That way, you can take immediate action to solve your personal motivational challenge.

You can also use this article’s information to help your team, group, or family push through motivation low turns and achieve greatness.

Loves to share beautiful things in life. If you think today is your bad day, think of tomorrow as your great day. Everything that happens is on what you think.

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