Whatever happened to those new year resolutions we were so excited about in January? It feels like such a long time ago that we confidently declared how this was going to be our year.
Running out of steam in the pursuit of your goals is nothing out of the ordinary. Let’s be honest; most of us were half-hearted about those new year resolutions anyways. Losing steam in achieving them doesn’t make that much of a dent in our lives.
What does have a larger impact, though, is when we lose motivation to pursue our life and career goals over time. These are the things we set our minds to do independent of the time of the year.
Maybe you wanted to grow your side hustle into a viable enough business for you to make it your full-time job. Now, you can barely find the energy to post a photo to your side-hustle Instagram account.
Or maybe you wanted to learn and master a new skill that would look amazing on your resume. You signed up for all the courses, but now it just feels like a huge chore that you’re beginning to wonder if you really need.
Whatever the reason, when it comes right down to it, losing motivation is about feeling unempowered. When we lose either the will or ability to go after what we want, we also lose self-motivation.
Time to step back and regroup; if you ever hope to make your dreams a reality, you need to know how to stay self-motivated. That also includes understanding the causes behind losing self-motivation; here are the six most common causes.
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Sometimes the most obvious things are the ones that escape our attention; how many times did you miss something that was right under your nose? Maybe the biggest reason why you lose motivation so quickly is that you’re aiming for goals that aren’t really yours in the first place.
Take a good hard look at your dreams and ask yourself if it’s really what you want, or if you’ve just borrowed somebody else’s aspirations.
If your goals aren’t aligned with your life values, outlook, and vision, then maybe it’s time to search for what it is you really want to want in life.
What if you know exactly what you want, but it’s not turning out the way you thought it would?
So many people start off with unrealistic expectations of what chasing their dreams will look like. The massive gulf between the reality of going after what you want, and what you thought it would look like, can leave you feeling extremely demotivated.
Being your own boss, for example, sounds very glamorous, but actually involves a lot of unglamorous work.
Managing your start-up’s finances, figuring out a business strategy to break into the market, and having to make do with tiny, cramped office spaces in the beginning; all of this is just the tip of the iceberg.
You need give yourself a reality check. No one ever said you have to be overly pessimistic, but you do have to be very realistic (or at the very least, realistically optimistic) about your journey.
Real progress is impossible without accountability. If you want to keep moving forward towards your goals, you need to hold yourself accountable for them.
It isn’t enough to set SMART short term and long term goals. Neither is it enough to make sure you tick everything off your to-do list every day.
No workplace can do without regular performance evaluations; neither can you. If you’re serious about getting what you want, you have to conduct comprehensive weekly and monthly self-evaluations; that’s how you objectively gauge the progress you’ve made and how far you still have to go.
Amidst all the intricacies and mundanities of the daily hustle, it’s easy to forget why you started on this journey in the first place.
Maybe your business is expanding, and it’s experiencing growing pains that are driving you crazy. Or maybe you have other responsibilities that kicked into high gear, and it’s draining your physical, mental, and emotional resources. However it manifests itself, you’re encountering an unforeseen circumstance that’s thrown a massive wrench into the cogs of your life plan.
Paradoxically, all of this can obscure your purpose and drive from you when you need it the most.
You need to keep reconnecting with your mission, and remember why you wanted to set off on the yellow brick road towards success in the first place.
Whether it takes the form of daily meditation and mindfulness, or keeping a sentimental memento on your workspace is entirely up to you. The point is to ensure that you have a way of renewing your intentions towards working for your goals every day.
When you succumb to the voice in the back of your head telling you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed, there are two reasons. The first is a lack of self-efficacy; not having confidence that you have the requisite abilities and skills to make it.
It’s important to note that this isn’t about low self-esteem; someone who is generally confident in life could still suffer from low self-efficacy if they feel completely out of their depth in a particular area in life.
For example, when you make a drastic career change, say from investment banking to social service, you might have low self-efficacy since you don’t have experience or past successes in your new line of work. Hence, you feel discouraged and lose self-motivation.
It’s not the end of the world. Self-efficacy is based on an objective self-appraisal of your abilities, so you can increase it (thus ramping up your self-motivation) by building up your skills, including by:
The second reason why you give in to the negative voice in the back of your head is that you lack self-esteem and confidence. When you feed and entertain your fears, it eats away at your self-motivation because it increasingly makes you passive and self-resigned to the fate you’ve already decided for yourself.
Self-doubt, fear, and all kinds of negativity are continually going to niggle at you throughout your journey. The only way to stop that from affecting your self-motivation is to charge ahead anyway.
Understand that confidence and high self-esteem aren’t exclusively innate personality traits; they can be cultivated. Self-help guru Mel Robbins, for example, defines confidence as the decision to try. In this way, shifting your perspective on what confidence is and isn’t can do wonders for your self-motivation.