How to Recover from 10 Types of Demotivation

10 Types of Demotivation

Motivation is central to creativity, productivity, and happiness. Motivation is what causes us to act, and when we act, we create movement, growth, and change; we feel involved, masterful, and significant; we feel powerful through experiencing how we can change the world; and we create more of what we love in our lives. And all of this gives our lives purpose and happiness.

Demotivation is like snow

It’s said that Eskimos have multiple words for snow because snow is so familiar to them that they can appreciate the subtle differences between different types of snow. These additional distinctions enable Eskimos to respond differently to different types of snow, depending on the challenges and opportunities that each particular type of snow is presenting them with.

Most of us have just one conception of demotivation, which means that whenever you’re unmotivated, you’re likely to assume that you’re struggling with the same problem, when in fact demotivation is a category of problems that has many variations within it. When you have just one kind of demotivation, you’ll apply the same old strategies whenever you feel unmotivated; for many people, those strategies look like this: set goals, push harder, create accountability checks that will push you, and run your life using GTD methods and to-do lists. These strategies are ineffective with most types of demotivation, and in some instances they can even make you more unmotivated.

At its essence, demotivation is about your not being fully committed to act, and there are many reasons why you might be in that position. Having more ways to categorize your demotivation will help you to identify the real reasons for your unwillingness to commit to action, so that you can pick the right tools and strategies to get motivated again.

Here are 10 types of demotivation and the strategies that will help you to get motivated again (click to share – thanks!):

1) You’re demotivated by fear

When you’re afraid, even if you’re entering territory that you’ve chosen to move into, a part of yourself is determined to avoid going forward. Fear slows you down and makes you hesitant and careful, which can be beneficial to you, but sometimes your fears are based on your imagination rather than on an accurate assessment of the risks in your reality. If your fear is big enough, even if you’re also excited to go forward, the part of you that wants to keep you safe can successfully prevent you from going forward into territory that’s both desirable and safe.

How to get motivated again: To get motivated, you need to deal with your fear. Start by naming your fears so that they’re out in the open. Remember to say a gentle thank you to your fears – they’re trying to protect you, after all. Then question your fears: “Why am I afraid of that happening?” “What are the chances that would really happen?” Some of your fears will slip away now.

Look at the fears that are left. What are these fears telling you about the research you need to do, the gaps you need to fill, and the risk management strategies you need to put in place? Honor that wisdom by building it into your plan. Finally, consider breaking down the changes you’re wanting to make into smaller steps and focusing on just the next few small steps – this will calm your fears.

2) You’re demotivated by setting the wrong goals

Martha Beck has a great model for understanding motivation. She explains that we have an Essential Self and a Social Self. Your Essential Self is the part of you that’s spontaneous and creative and playful, the part that knows what’s most important to you. Your Social Self is the part of you that developed since the day you were born, learning the rules of the tribe and working hard to make sure that you’re safe by making you follow the rules of the tribe.

We’re all surrounded with so many messages that feed into our Social Selves and we’re keen to impress our tribe. When you feel unmotivated, it’s because you’re setting goals based purely on what your Social Self wants and this is pulling you away from the direction your Essential Self wants you to take. Your Essential Self uses demotivation to slow you down and to disinterest you from the toxic goals you’ve set.

How to get motivated again: Take some time to review your goals. Because your Essential Self is non-verbal, you can easily access your Essential Self through your body. Notice how your body responds as you think of each of the goals you’re trying to work on. When your body (and particularly your breathing) shows signs of tightness and constriction, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re trying to follow toxic goals. If you get a constricted reaction, scrap your current goals and question all your stories about what you “should” do with your life. Notice what makes you smile spontaneously or lose track of time, and set goals related to that stuff instead.

3) You’re demotivated by lack of clarity about what you want

When you haven’t consciously and clearly articulated what you want, your picture of your future will be vague. We like what’s familiar and so we resist what’s unfamiliar and vague and we stay with and re-create what’s familiar to us. If you’re not clear about what you want to create, then it makes sense that you’ll lack motivation to act because you’d rather stay with your current familiar reality.

How to get motivated again: If you want to create something different from what you’ve been experiencing, it’s not enough to just know what you don’t want. You need to know what you do want, and you need to articulate a clear and specific vision of what you want to create so that you can become familiar with that new outcome and feel comfortable moving towards it. Take some time to articulate what you want and why you want it.

4) You’re demotivated by a values conflict

Your values are what’s important to you in life. If you have a values conflict, it means that there are two or more values that are important to you but you believe that you can’t satisfy all of those values in a particular situation. This situation causes you to feel conflicted and pulled in different directions as you try to find ways to get what’s important to you. You might have brief spurts of motivation to work on something and then lose motivation and start working on something else, or your motivation might dry up altogether because the energy of dealing with internal conflict quickly tires you out and saps your energy.

How to get motivated again: You need to unpack your values conflict and play mediator to get the parts of you that are advocating for different values to play on the same team again. Start with acknowledging the internal conflict. Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle so that you have two columns. Write about the two different directions you feel pulled in, one in each column, and summarize it with a statement of what each part wants. Now pick one column and chunk it up: “Why does this part want that? What does it hope to get as a result of having that?” Keep asking the questions and writing your answers until you feel that you’ve hit on the end result that this part of you ultimately wants. Now do the same for the other part, and notice when you get to the level where the answers in the two columns are the same.

Ultimately, when you chunk up, all of the parts of yourself always want the same thing, because they’re all you. Now that you know what you really want, you can evaluate the strategies that each part had been advocating for and decide which strategy would work best.

Often, once you’re clear on what you really want, you spot new strategies for getting it that you hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes by doing this exercise you’ll find ways to satisfy all of your values, but sometimes that’s not possible. If you’ve taken time to think through your values and you’ve consciously chosen to prioritize a particular value over your other values for a while, this clarity will ease the internal conflict and your motivation will return.

5) You’re demotivated by lack of autonomy

We thrive on autonomy. We all have a decision-making center in our brains and this part of us needs to be exercised. Studies have found that this decision-making center in the brain is under-developed in people who have depression and that if you practice using this part of the brain and making decisions, depression often clears.

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink writes about the research that shows that when it comes to doing creative work, having some autonomy to decide what we do, when we do it, how we do it, and whom we do it with is core to igniting and sustaining motivation, creativity, and productivity.

How to get motivated again: Consider how much autonomy you have in relation to the goals you’ve been trying to pursue. Are there areas where you feel constricted and controlled? Consider how you could gradually introduce more autonomy in your task, time, technique, location, and team, and then, if you’re employed, have a discussion with your manager and ask for greater autonomy in a few specific areas of your work.

6) You’re demotivated by lack of challenge

Challenge is another crucial ingredient for motivation that authors like Daniel Pink and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, highlight. When it comes to dealing with challenges, there’s a sweet spot. Too great a challenge, and the fear becomes too great and saps our motivation (see point 1), and if the challenge is too small, we quickly get bored and struggle to stay motivated. We’re designed to be living, growing creatures and we need constant challenges and opportunities to master new skills. Without challenges, our Essential Self steps in and demotivates us as a way of telling us that we’ve departed from the path that’s right for us.

How to get motivated again: Review your goals and the projects you’re working on. Are they challenging you? Are they going to require you to grow in order to achieve them, or are you treading water in your comfort zone, doing only the things you know you can do? Try tweaking your goals to make them a bit more challenging, take on projects that will require you to grow, and find a new thing or two to learn to stimulate yourself.

7) You’re demotivated by grief

At the beginning of any change, we go through a phase of wondering if we should or could hang onto the way things were and grieving what we’d be losing if we make significant changes. Confusion, self-doubt, mistrust of the world around us, and feeling lost are common symptoms, and the bigger the change, the more powerful these symptoms. Sometimes we even go through a bit of depression and social withdrawal. Martha Beck calls this phase the “Death and Rebirth” phase of change in her book Finding Your Own North Star. With all the grieving and fearing and feeling lost that go on in this phase, it’s normal for your motivation to dry up.

How to get motivated again: If you’ve just experienced a trauma or loss, or you’re going through a major change and finding that there are days where you’re hit hard with Death and Rebirth symptoms, don’t try to make make yourself motivated and proactive. You can’t rush grieving or the undoing of your old life and ways of thinking, and you can’t skip the Death and Rebirth phase and go straight into Dreaming and Scheming.

You need to give yourself a lot of space for nurturing and reflection. Look after your body with good food, rest, and exercise. Express your grief, confusion, and fears with people who can listen lovingly. Spend time in nature and with calm, loving people to center yourself. Accept every feeling and thought you have – they’re all normal and safe. Take one day at a time and go easy on yourself. Confusion, forgetfulness, and clumsiness are all normal in this stage. The grieving will end when it’s ready, and if you relax into it and express your grief, it’ll be sooner rather than later.

8) You’re demotivated by loneliness

This is an especially important one for those of us who work alone from home. You know those days when you feel a bit cabin-feverish, you just don’t feel like working, and you’d rather be out having a drink with a friend or playing a game of soccer? Well, perhaps it’s because we’re designed to be social creatures and sometimes your Essential Self is just longing for some connection with other people, and so it steps in and hijacks your work motivation so that you’ll take a break from work and go spend some time with other people and give your Essential Self what it needs.

How to get motivated again: Take a break and go spend some time with someone you enjoy. You may be surprised at the motivating impact this has and find yourself much more clear and productive when you return to your work. And then look for ways that you can begin to build more networking and joint venturing into your work.

9) You’re demotivated by burnout

I attract overachieving Type A’s, and as a recovering Type A myself, I know that sometimes we’re banging on about wanting to get more done even after we’ve exceeded the limit on what’s sustainable. If you’re feeling tired all the time, you’ve lost your energy for socializing, and the idea of taking a snooze sounds more compelling than the stuff you’re usually interested in, then you’ve probably pushed yourself too long and hard and you may be burned out.

Your Essential Self will always work to motivate you to move towards what you most need and away from goals, projects, and ways of working that take you away from what your Essential Self craves. So if you’re burned out and needing sleep, your Essential Self may even sap the motivation from the things that you’re usually really ignited about – just to get you to meet your core needs again.

How to get motivated again: Sleep. And then when you’re done sleeping and the quality of your thinking has been restored, check back in with your Essential Self about what’s most important to you, hang out here on Charlie’s blog, and start building sustainable ways to do more of what’s important to you.

10) You’re demotivated by not knowing what to do next

Your end-goal might be nice and clear, but if you haven’t taken time to chunk it down into smaller goals, you’ll get stuck, confused, and unmotivated when it’s time to take action. Some projects are small and familiar enough that they don’t need a plan, but if you’re often worrying that you don’t know what to do next and you don’t have a clear plan, then this might be the source of your demotivation.

How to get motivated again: If you want to keep your motivation flowing steadily through all stages of your projects, take time to create clear project plans and to schedule your plans into your calendar.

Use your fears to point you to the potential risks you need to manage in your plan. Write down all of your “I-don’t-know-how-to” concerns and turn these into research questions. The first part of any planning stage is research, and you’ll find new research questions along the way, so realize that conducting research should be part of your action plan at every stage of your project. Finally, ask yourself what smaller goals need to be achieved for you to achieve your end-goal, and schedule deadlines for yourself.

Goal-setting and pushing are rarely the answer

Goal-setting, planning, organizing, and accountability structures are often touted as the big solution to demotivation and the silver bullet that will get you creative and productive again, but notice that it’s a useful strategy for dealing with only some types of demotivation. With many other types of demotivation, goal-setting, planning, organizing, and accountability structures will only make your demotivation problem worse.

Over to you…

  • Have you been able to pinpoint the types of demotivation that you tend to struggle with most?
  • Are you stuck in demotivation right now?
  • What do you need, and which motivation strategy is going to give you what you need right now?

About the Author: Cath co-founded the Creative Grief Coaching Certification program, where she and Kara Jones train social workers, therapists, life coaches, and nurses to use conversational creativity and art-making to support bereaved people in living wholeheartedly after loss. Cath has also written the Remembering For Good Grief Workbook and numerous grief articles at

Want some more insights for action to help with knowing what to do or, setting goals, or making progress on the stuff that matters? Check out resources on productivity and effectiveness for creative people.

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  1. says

    Hi, This is great stuff. I have to re-read later on because I mostly skimmed, but I see some ideas here that really hit the nail on the head for me. I’m such a voracious reader so I just love it when I come across stuff I haven’t really read before, or it’s from a different angle and thought-provoking or useful.

    Some of these, like #4 the Values Conflict, put into words some stuff I’ve wrestled with but haven’t known quite what it is. I’ve realized I have to just put into separate parts of the day some things I have to do and then let it go, get to work even if I have to go to the library or a coffee shop to get things done (I have 2 dogs and 2 cats, 2 of them with serious health issues, ~phew~ so much work but it’s too important to me to let go but it’s hard)

    Also #7, yeah. Had a bunch of losses in recent years, so this makes me think, yeah, no wonder I had a rough time focusing for so long! I can be so hard on myself. Buts till, have to pay the bills no matter what.

    Well thanks, I really like this post. First time here but got the Freelancing guide via Chris and was reading but then figured I ought to go check out the authors site :)

    Have an awesome day!

    • says

      Glad you found this useful, Leah! And I’m thrilled that this is giving you some new distinctions. When we have new distinctions, we can have new responses.

      This post is a biggie and I suspect the real value will come from the re-reads in those moments when you’re demotivated. Why not print it and post it up in your office to refer back to when you need it?

  2. says

    I have the Values Conflict. I am an artist at heart and yet I can’t immerse in it because I have too many financial demands. This has been incessant for the past 30 years. I keep falling into a sort of neither one-thing-or-the-other place. So from there it feeds all the other demotivation causes. Going to try the 2-column thing and see if it helps. Great post.

    • says

      Give the 2-column exercise a go and see where that gets you. The one part is the part that wants you to be an artist and the other wants you to meet your financial demands. Chunk up each part and see what their core concerns and needs are.

      A values-conflict is when we have two things that are important to us and we feel that we can’t have both. Sometimes we really can’t have both, but sometimes even though we might need to prioritize one value over the other, doing this consciously and giving it a time limit can help with motivation. You may also find that there are ways of having both your values by choosing to set aside small chunks of time for each.

      • Rayana says

        I’m going through de-motivation caused by grief and burn-out. My father passed away a bit over two months ago. He had been an extremely important and influential part of my life. I was in denial about this tremendous loss because of an overwhelming amount of responsibilities that I had had to take care of at the same time of my father’s passing. So I wasn’t given the opportunity to grieve. I’m beginning to now. And I’m finding it extremely difficult to get things done right now. I have become a professional procrastinator. I just couldnt understand where all this task avoidance was coming from. I decided not to read this article thoroughly from top to bottom, but skim through it until I came across the cause of my particular de-motivation. Grieving and burn-out tugged at my heart and I realized what was really going on. I hadn’t been able to grieve before, and my Essential Self I guess wants to deal with this now. So here I am. I’m glad to have found this article because I don’t feel guilty now for needing some timeout for myself. Thank you.

  3. says

    Appreciate your comments on grief. You are absolutely right you can’t rush it, motivate yourself out of it etc. Grief is a most trustworthy companion and always knows exactly where you need to go as long as you’re not trying to manage it, direct it or control it. It’s rarely convenient.

  4. says

    I’m glad you had Cath by for a visit Charlie, she’s always amazing!

    Cath, thanks for another great piece; in fact this might be my favorite yet! Your insight always impresses me. I think I’ve fallen into every one of the 10 facets at one time or another.

    Rather than adding anything, I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do. Usually I bookmark a great piece in Diigo or copy/paste it into a “favorite stuff” document in Google docs. For this one, though, I’m printing it out, which I hardly ever do. I struggle with motivation sometimes and this will be most helpful. Thanks Cath!

  5. says

    There are some very excellent points to think about in the above article, and I really appreciate the variety of perspectives and approaches to overcoming each one.

    My main concern with it though is that it perpetuates something that I’m pretty sure is a myth: that motivation exists anytime there is a lack of demotivators. I’ve had many situations where there is nothing specifically demotivating me, and yet I still didn’t feel motivated to move forward. I wanted to move forward even as I wondered why I wasn’t, and it seemed like wanting wasn’t enough.

    I realized that maybe I was wrong in expecting to feel pulled forward by a motivational force, when instead what was missing was my applying effort to moving myself forward. It does take a little bit of energy invested in order to change momentum from zero to nonzero. It isn’t enough to just release the brakes (the demotivators); I need to accelerate forward by applying myself to some easy part of the task, just to get the ball rolling.

    I think of this as a kind of motivational inertia: once I’m moving forward, it’s easier to continue moving forward, but if I haven’t worked on the project in awhile it is extremely difficult to get going again. Sometimes it’s just the fact that I think it will be extremely difficult to get going again, and so what I have to do is start my work by reviewing what was done last time– it’s like getting my feet wet before deciding whether to jump in or just climb in slowly.

    Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, and maybe this “startup time” is something that will fade with practice, but I think it was very useful to think about motivation in this way: it can provide the spark, but I still must reach out to grasp it and put it to use. In fact, even if I can’t quite see the spark because my vision is clouded by demotivation, I can urge myself to remember its general direction and grasp for it anyways, and sometimes gaining motivational inertia helps me shake off those demotivating feelings that crept in while I wasn’t taking action. Of course it’s better to address those demotivators if possible, but since they may take awhile to defeat completely, it’s helpful to know that reaching towards motivation is still an option even if not quite feeling it.

    • says

      Mmm… I think you raise an important point that you don’t have to “feel” motivated to go ahead and get stuff done anyway. Energy is a dynamic thing and motivation will go up and down, so expecting your motivation to be consistently high is going to get you disappointed. You can use willpower and, having worked through a values-conflict, you might decide that something is a big enough priority to you that you’ll do it even though you don’t “feel” like doing it. But it’s not sustainable to motivate yourself with mostly willpower, so the motivation techniques I suggest are designed to help you to restore your natural motivation.

      I’m still thinking about this:
      “I’ve had many situations where there is nothing specifically demotivating me, and yet I still didn’t feel motivated to move forward.”
      Without further information, I think it’s possible that you just haven’t been able to identify what’s demotivating you. My assumption is that we’re naturally motivated, that our natural state is to want to create and contribute and learn and do. Sure maybe not ALL the time (then we’d get demotivated by burnout), but a good portion of our day. So my sense is dig a little deeper and you may find a reason for your reluctance to move forward within these 10 points.

      • nouali djamel says

        i’ve always been demotivated and till now i looking for the reason but i am standing amazed. from time to time when reading books i couldn’t undestand and i feel a certain frignt particularly in my chest and i become struggling with myself. i want to go higher and higher with English and i still looking for the way to reach a level which qualifies me to teach at the university. maybe it will my fate maybe no who knows!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. says

    Massively useful post. I think we all have elements of these ten reasons above in our lives, even when we’re not suffering motivationally from them. Identifying those elements makes it a lot easier to work on any problematic areas before they turn into a crisis. Well done.

  7. says

    #4, values-conflict is called “cognitive dissonance.” It’s something that I struggled with greatly as my career shifted from public health to business….merging benevolence and focus on health to focus on strategy and money was difficult for me. Then I was told “no money, no mission” and it all clicked….not only is it possible to worry about money during public health, it’s imperative! Cognitive dissonance vanished and I’ve really taken off in my career since then – largely because I know where I am going, and why.

    Great post!

    • says

      This is a great example of a values-conflict that you resolved by exploring it and realizing that it wasn’t true that you had to decide between the two values – you could have both. Thanks for sharing, Elaine.

  8. says

    Hey, Cath! This is a beautiful untangling of the many types of demotivation. I very much like the clarity you brought here.

    I also like the question Qrystal brought up earlier — are we essentially motivated? When I think about it, it feels like my essential self does have core desires that become motivations in the absence of anything restricting them. Even if my essential self is crying for rest, that is a creative impulse. I have a motivation to take care of myself, to gather in and restore myself, for a later time of turning outward again.

    By the way — people often use that example of eskimos and their words for snow. Have you noticed how many words we have for car? There’s car, automobile, sedan, wagon, Ford, Cadillac, SUV, pick-up, convertible, two-door, Prius, Mustang, hybrid, Hummer, and on and on! Talk about making subtle distinctions between human-carrying enclosed and powered conveyances!

  9. says

    This is great. I think the values-confilct demotivation can be quite intense. I’ve experienced that myself, mainly because I was tempted to cut the corners and make compromises.”

    It good to step back an reassess our priorities and objectives so that they’re in line with our “Essential Self.” Great post.

  10. says

    Michael, you’re right that a values-conflict can be very demotivating and disempowering. It can cause massive amounts of anxiety and internal conflict and make it quite hard to concentrate on anything else. Recognizing what your values are that are in conflict with each other is the first step to easing the conflict.

  11. says

    This post is actually a huge revelation for me personally. I’ve never thought about multiple reasons for demotivation. I’m pretty sure I’ve dealt with basically all the ones you mentioned (I guess most of us have) but I’ve never recognized them as distinct. It’s hard to solve a problem when you don’t recognize it’s true nature. This post will really help me!

  12. says

    Hey Cath – wow- what a killer post.

    Lack of clarity used to be my problem, put with pure focus on my inner self, I overcame that.

    What about being demotivated by the summer sun ? Uber – hot temperatures melt my brain, and keep me from doing the epic work.

    • says

      Thanks, Mars! You’re right that I haven’t addressed biological/ body reasons for demotivation (except for in the case of burnout). Some people get demotivated and even depressed by lack of sunlight during the winter, and the amount of sleep and exercise you get and the quality of food you eat, and of course being on certain medications… this can all have a big impact on your motivation.

      Maybe there needs to be an 11th type of demotivation to represent unmet body needs :)

      • says

        Oh that would be a good one! Autoimmune problems and aging can really take the wind out of your sails. My brain thinks I’m 35, but my body thinks I’m 85 and that alone can cause a lot of frustrations, then periods of demotivation.

  13. says

    There’s so much practical smartness here Cath. And so much delicious clarity!

    I love how you talk about each type of demotivation, and how they really are their own unique creature.

    It seems so much easier work through demotivation when you know what kind of creature is hanging out in your world.

    Thanks Cath!

    • says

      Yup, and when you know all the creatures, when they arrive, you can go, “Ah, it’s you again, my old friend…” and embrace all parts of ourselves rather than fighting ourselves and feeling worse.

  14. Lucy Atkinson says

    Wow, what an informative and insightful post! There is so much baseless information about this topic on the net, it was great to read something with REAL info :)

  15. says

    This is fantastic. I’m going to write a post just on what I’ve learned here and send people to this post. I’ve been experiencing conflicting goals lately and feel like I’m taking one step forward, right, left and back to where I started. It is a frustrating experience, but this post helped me to define what it was and why.

    Thanks so much for sharing. And, fun to see you on a new site, going to check it out now!!

  16. says

    I find I’m demotivated the most when I am tired or feeling unwell. The lack of energy translates into everything I do, and my biggest dream is to just crawl into bed and stay there awhile. :)

  17. says


    Number 4, the value’s conflict, is so often something that come into play in our personal and professional lives. It’s a subtle demotivator, but a powerful one. More and more, organizations that are values based and driven are succeeding.

    They are coming to understand that people are motivated by their values and building upon that kind of motivation.

    It’s working. Good stuff Cath.

  18. says

    Hey Cath! Great article! I’m a recovering type a myself, and would like to offer a discount to your followers for my book, Confessions of a Recovering Type A. What’s the best way to do that?

  19. Josch says

    Thank you for a great article!

    I’m feeling ‘demotivated’ right now and I have been all day! I’m normally extremely motivated BUT today I woke up feeling aimless.

    I don’t really know which kind of demotivation I’ve encountered… I think it might be 3, 9, 10 or all three!

    I basically spent all day trying to make it go away but it never happened… now I’m in bed and I’m calling it a ‘bad day’, hoping I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling better.

    Also… point 6, feeling demotivated by lack of challenge – maybe if you make overcoming your demotivation your challenge, you won’t feel demotivated! Wow… my mind did a loop-the-loop.

  20. says

    Wonderful. We spend so much time talking about motivation – how to find it, keep it and share it. But recognizing what de-motivates is such an important step toward helping to eliminate the negativity that blocks forward motivation. Thanks for this article.

  21. Nouali Djamel says

    I’ve always been demotivated and I’ve never understood the reasons.Somtimes when I start reading a 2nd lge English books stories…when I don’t understant some English words I become anxious and demotivated.Could please show me thebest way to become motivated and go higher and higher with English because I not only love it but also as a student at the university and this year is my last year to get my 1st degree and I’d like to continue my studies to get other diplomas.

  22. says

    great post. Sometimes I feel it’s not that hard to get motivated again by just doing it. But I also have a tendency to deliberately being demotivated, for a few days, and then until I feel quite scared of wasting so much time, I will be very motivated and focused. I think that’s procrastination, but fear can be a good thing to drive you to be motivated too.

  23. Megan Coker says

    It is ok that I come back to this blog over and over again and it always helps me refocus on what’s important. I’m addicted to productive flourishing!

  24. Sjorcha says

    I really needed to read this clarifying post!

    I realise now that I have been suffering from both Grief & Burnout demotivation. It makes sence that an angry companion called mistrust has entered my life, due to a traumatic event just over 12 months ago.

    I feel more assured, there really is a ‘key’ out of the demotivation dungeon

  25. Jeff says

    Thanks Cathy…

    So I have been sitting here at work, with a growing stack of work just pilling up..

    I have been sitting in the same position, same office for the past 4 years (the longest I have ever kept one job) and now demotivation has really started to sink in…

    For the past few years, I have been working my ass off, making sure deadlines are reached, while at the same time doing my MBA… Now that my studies as finished (3 months ago), and I have nothing to push me, it has affected my work/gym/life as well as there is nothing more to strive for where I am currently sitting.. Within my work enviroment, I have been achieving above average or excellent ratings for the past 4 years, but now I am questioning if I really want to do it

    I do believe that its important to look at demotivation as well as motivation as all they preaching here at work is motivation.. what about us guys that needs to get back on track?

    Maybe I am just burnt out as I have not taken a holiday in the past 2 years, maybe its that I know I now need to go out there an look for a new job and thus its fear setting in, or maybe I see myself doing the same thing day in and out, and thus lacking a challenge..

    I am constantly tired, I roll out of bed at 08:30 each morning (work starts at 8) so come late to work most days.. I sit in the office looking at the work coming in, but just dont feel like actually getting to it.

    Well at least with this artical, I can now see that there is hope to get me back on track… let me start working on an action plan

  26. says

    Thanks for the post. I learned a lot. I am demotivated by stress and some office mates that so hard to be with..And when I see my payslip every 15th and 30th of the month that I am receiving a low salary rate for my current position and job responsibilities, that adds more to the demotivation. But I have no choice. I am afraid to get out of this company because I am afraid that I will be out of work. I am 45 years now. And most of the companies here in the Philippines gets younger age. What do you think should I do?

  27. Nik says

    I am demotivated by not receiving recognition for my work. I just switched a financial career to a creative one and recognition would help re-inforce that I made the right decision.

  28. Mark says

    I am demotivated by pretty much all of these in addition to finding myself in a foreign country where many people complain about many things and say how difficult everything is.

    I had a great business but my customer (a major PC company) left the country and left me high and dry), my network has disappeared, my mother died unexpectedly of a nasty illness and a whole bunch of other things.

    In all cases consumerism, when you take a few minutes to think about it, is a dead end with no soul. How can one get fired up to contribute to something that makes no sense and is irresponsible. And most every company is extremely effective at channeling profits to its owners leaving its workers with a few scraps.

    It all beats me. I could go on for a while.

    So, how do I find my motivation (other than being homeless and starving)?

    • says

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through a rough patch – it sounds as if you’re going through a Saturn Return period. (You don’t have to believe in the metaphysics of astrology to observe that people tend to go through a major trial in 28-32 years after their birth.)

      I wouldn’t say that all cases of consumerism are bad, but may cases of corporate capitalism are.

      In answer to the question about finding your motivation, it seems like you’ve lost some meaning and perspective. Find those and you’ll find your motivation. Shortcut: what lesson are you needing to learn right now?

  29. megan says

    Im feeling like other people can be a source of demotivation.

    Fear of them, or what they say to us, or maybe we aren’t bold enough to approach someone we admire that may help us in our goals. What do you think?

  30. says

    This is a really great post. I’ve seen others attempt to tackle the demotivation, but almost always they try to pin in it on one or two factors. What I like about this post is that is “made for real humans,” there a lot of complicated factors that go into this and you’ve covered so many and addressed them with real actions to rebalance. You know your stuff, it’s very refreshing!

  31. Daniel says

    Great stuff and very helpful.

    One slight criticism however, is that you start of this great information with something that is wrong.

    Eskimos do not have many words for snow. The English language has more , (such as slush, sleet, hail, etc). They have no more words then we do, if anything they have less.

    So the criticism to this would be that because this article starts off with incorrect facts, the rest of the article loses any of its credibility.

    Please edit the opening to this piece, it will make the rest hit home better.

    • says

      I appreciate the fact-checking, Daniel. We’ll do some more fact-checking and correction so that we don’t contain to spread an error, but do note that Cath said “it’s said,” not that they do. The veracity of that particular statement doesn’t over-ride the main point of the paragraph or piece, though: we often have subtly different words and concepts because it’s useful to be clear about our experiences.

      Thanks for the alert. :)

  32. says

    I stumbled (literally, using StumbleUpon) across this 20 minutes before the Monday madness begins… and it’s exactly the clarity I needed to start out the day and figure out my priorities for the week. Thank you, this rocked.

  33. Amelia says

    One year ago I went through scary burnout – driving to a job site and ending up somewhere else. Not being able to handle any more phone calls at work. Pushing so hard to get projects completed that were my responsibility and training junior staff after the loss of our main boss. Abusive relations with management staff from head office. A spiral of coming to work – working through a haze, staying until 8pm to get work done. Sitting at my desk reviewing files and thinking oh my god I don’t know what to do anymore.

    Thought I was losing my mind. Contacted a company that had wanted to hire me just in order to make myself leave. Not a good thing as I left the job quickly and got some career counselling.

    Found another job that I really should have stayed at and spent more time recovering – but A Type personality I pushed myself to another job. Not a good thing as I am still somewhere on the tail end of burnout trying to recover.

    Part of the downward spiral is a demotivation. At least 8 of the 10 points above are involved. A fear of the unknown, the opportunity to pick up some course work to get a professional designation, starting my own business with a colleague. I honestly don’t know and took this new job to try and find some direction but find myself even more demotivated than before.

    I’ve asked for some guidance from people I know but at some point too much talk is just a hindrance. Even if you are successful and good at something it is possible to be demotivated – fear, loss of direction, sometimes depression – helps if I can get over the daily hump and do work but the mind wants to wander.

    I am still frustrated and have some grief associated with leaving a job I loved that just fell apart. I’ve forgiven myself but the grief still lingers.

    The person is still there but somehow buried and afraid to speak up about stuff at work. How do you ever come back – even part way?

  34. Ali says

    I pretty much owe you my achievements if I really get motivated again.
    and I think that the clues you gave, will motivate me, specially the first ones.
    Thanks a lot refigh (that means buddy in my tongue) :)

  35. Paul Griffin says

    I’ve experienced almost all the types of demotivation mentioned above. But whatever the reason is I always deal with it the same way. I go to the gym and train like it’s my last workout ever. Reading motivational quotes with pictures also helps me a lot. I found that collection that inspired me to write that comment

  36. Dr. Lena says

    May anybody suggest how to regain motivation dealing with an acute post-traumatic stress? The body just resists doing anything. And it’s very difficult to get around this problem.
    Thank you for an advice!

    • says

      Hi Dr. Lena. I’m not sure I understand the question, as it can go two ways: 1) one’s body not working with them causes frustration and demotivation or 2) the PTS is blocking the original motivation. (Both can be true from my experience with PTSD.) Which one are you primarily asking about?

      • rajee says

        waaao . I can’t thank you enough for this post , each and every line is so useful and true in my case , I was fearing about something and I think I will overcome that.

  37. Richard Bell says

    Bad Management or lack of management is de-motivating me, it appears that the higher hierarchy can have detrimental results on not just an individual but a whole team.

  38. says

    I recently lost my mother 4 months ago, and so number 7 completely resonated with me. I’m usually very driven and goal-oriented, and yet my passion for work seems to have disappeared. I left a stressful, corporate contract to leave myself time to grieve, and yet now I don’t seem to feel very motivated by the quieter work I’ve taken on, even though I usually love writing and developing my training content. I am getting through it, but very slowly. It just takes me a lot longer to get things done – which frustrates me! How long do you think it usually takes for your motivation to return after a significant loss? Thank you for such an apt, insightful post. At least I don’t feel like this response is abnormal now!

  39. Ashhar Habib says

    I dearly loved this one, very well written and I can say with confidence that almost every person can relate to this post.
    Good Job Cath! You helped me with this article, you helped many!

  40. Sammy says

    Hi, I really love the way you have put across your points. A very well researched and written article.
    Recently, I have started working on a huge project. It is close to my heart, but I have to complete it within a limited time frame. At the beginning, I was so excited, but now, I don’t feel like going through with it anymore. It’s taken a toll on me. I identify with the burnout stage. Now, I really don’t know what to do. I really don’t want to give it up, but I don’t have any strength left.

    • Charlie Gilkey says

      Hi Sammy!

      Is it your deadline?

      And do you have the ability to rescope the project?

      Lastly, is there someone else who might be able to help you with the project?

      If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check out the (free) Start Finishing Action Guide. It has some exercises that might help you work through this project.

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