3 Signs that you’re stuck in a low-motivation cycle, & what to do about it.

By: Bria Wannamaker

Truly, right down to my core, I believe that no one wants to feel lazy; in fact, “lazy” can be an emotionally triggering word for some. Western culture values hustle and productivity so it can be extremely painful to struggle with having little to no motivation. If you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning and to attend your commitments and tasks, this can feel like you’re disappointing not only yourself but also those around you, and you may experience a general sense of guilt from not being able to participate in your life and in society the way that you want to.

A number of factors may contribute to your lack of motivation. I’ve listed 3 signs below that might be contributing to your difficulty with getting motivated – and what to do about them.

1. You’re always the caregiver…

Whether it’s in your workplace, with your friendships, romantic partner, or friendships – you’re always available. You’re the peace keep, you take on everyone else’s emotional needs. You have an incredible sense of humour to lighten the mood when things get to serious and dark. When someone offers to care for you or provide you with support, you honestly feel like you don’t need help from others or that you can handle things on your own. You don’t want other’s to be there for your in your time of need, you don’t want to feel like a burden. Of course it’s hard to get out of bed; is exhausting considering handling your own shit while also feeling the weight of everyone else’s shit.

What to do… Begin by establishing boundaries with others to lighten your load. Check out the related resource below for 3 steps to setting boundaries.

2. You are struggling to show up for scheduled meetings, classes, or appointments…

This can actually be an avoidance behaviour. Though you know it’s important for you to attend these commitments, AND you want to, AND you know that they are beneficial to you and for your future – you just can’t seem to make it there or you struggle to make it there on time. Your subconscious mind is running the show and your body complies as you stay stuck in the patterns to avoid stress, discomfort and anxiety. Whether you’re experiencing somatic symptoms such as nausea or headaches, sleeping past your alarm, or completely forgetting about your commitments, this could be your body’s way of communicating to you that you have some serious discomfort around these commitments and that you’d rather not go and face them. Obviously, talk to your doctor about these symptoms in case they are related to a medical condition or other mental health concerns.

What to do… Start by taking small steps toward building your confidence and showing up for your engagements. Maybe you don’t attend everything this week, but take the initiative to cancel in advance if you need to. This shows that you’re planning ahead as a means of self-care and that you won’t fall short of your goals. Often times if you have many things to attend to and then you miss one, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy “I suck”, ” I can never make it on time”, “I hate myself for doing this again.” Eventually it turns into a core belief “I am someone who misses things”, “I am someone who is always late.” Again, set your boundaries – take things off of your plate, start small and build your confidence back up.

3. Everything feels like a priority…

You don’t even know where to start. Your to-do-list seems endless. It’s so overwhelming that you become unfocused and frustrated when you go to begin – this leads to somatic/physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, and can leading your to emotional outbursts, crying, feeling, exhausted, and a sense of “shutting down”. You might feel like you’re unable to cope or your feel that the best way to get back on track is to treat-yo-self by using distractions such as scrolling on your phone, going out with friends, and neglecting your responsibilities because they seem like they are too much, they seem impossible. This can become your default, this way of coping by engaging in other activities. You’re waiting for motivation and inspiration and it feels like your “good days” are few and far in between.

What to do… Get started by setting time boundaries, we often say “wow, I’ve been lazy over the past few days, I need to commit to doing my work” and then we say that we’re going to focus for 7 hours straight – like what!? That’s not going to happen, and I believe that it’s not a good place to work from and that it’s not healthy for your body and mind. Instead, set time boundaries that work for you – block off time for fun, block off time for movement and physical activity, schedule in smaller chunks of time to get your work done, and take frequent breaks in between to help keep you feeling inspired. Know that you can treat yourself, know that it’s important to feel motivated from switching up your environment, getting outside, moving your body, being active, and spending time with others. Know that it’s okay to watch some comedy videos on TikTok or listen to music or a podcast to take time for yourself and to change your state of being. You have a sense of powerlessness around your to-do-list, don’t let it run you – pick 1 thing that you’re going to focus on and do it really really well, also definitely take care of you and definitely treat-yo-self as reinforcement – not as an escape or avoidance behaviour.

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