overcome lack of motivation

How to Overcome Lack of Motivation 

No motivation? No problem! Seriously. The idea that you need to wait for motivation in order to get started is a myth. Does motivation proceed action? Or does action create motivation? I believe that it can go both ways! In this post, discover how to overcome lack of motivation so that you can keep moving toward your goals.


overcome lack of motivation


7 Ways to Overcome Lack of Motivation 

Motivation is related to just about anything. There’s finding the motivation to tackle a work project, have a difficult conversation, meal plan for the week, etc. For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on a common struggle that I hear from my clients: “What do I do when I lack the motivation to exercise?”

Don’t waste your time waiting for motivation to strike. Here are 7 ways you can take action with exercise EVEN when you don’t feel motivated. 

1 – Fake it til you make it. 

Imagine you are closing down your work laptop for the day. At the beginning of the day, you planned to do a 20-minute workout after work. Now that it’s after work, exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. Sound familiar? 

At this moment, you feel disconnected from your motivated self. But here’s the important thing to remember: your motivated self is in there somewhere. To awaken your motivated self, start acting as if you were motivated. 

Ask yourself: What would my motivated self do? How can I start showing up like that? 

Perhaps your motivated self would fill up their water bottle and change into workout clothes. Proceed with those tasks. Although these small steps are simple, they put you in motion. Once begun, half done! 

2 – Focus on how you’ll feel.

There’s a clear contrast in how you feel before and after exercise. It’s normal to start a workout with a sense of tired or *blah* energy (for lack of a better word). It’s moving your body that actually creates the release of feel-good endorphins and boosts energy. 

So if you’re feeling an overall lack of energy, get moving to create energy. Focus on how you will feel afterward and let that feeling draw you into the workout. Even a 10-minute walk is shown to produce these benefits!

3 – Pair a dreaded task with something you enjoy.

Don’t enjoy riding your stationary bike? Stream your favorite Netflix show while you ride. Not a fan of solo walking? Meet a friend at a local park or call a friend while you walk. Another idea – save your favorite Podcast episodes to listen to during your workout. 

This strategy also works if you attach the activity you enjoy to the end of the dreaded task. For example, identify something that would feel like a reward to you. Now save that thing for after your workout. 

Rewards don’t have to be big. It can be as simple as looking forward to a hot shower after your workout or your favorite post-workout snack. Make sure the thing you do immediately after exercising is pleasing to you.

4 – Create a pre-game routine.

Athletes have a warm-up or pre-game routine for a reason. It gets them prepped, even when they don’t feel like it. For some, it’s actions to get their body moving properly. For others, it’s strategies to set their mindset. 

Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte, listens to music before he swims. Usain Bolt has shared that he forgets competition altogether by focusing on “man talk” before a race. Basically, he talks about things he likes such as fast cars, women, and music.

Consider these prompts as you create your own “pre-game” routine: What puts you in the proper mindset? What actions, prior to exercise, have helped you perform your best? 

Keep it simple. Perhaps it’s listening to an upbeat playlist. Maybe it’s a series of 3 stretches that change up your energy and loosen your body. 

5 – Showing up is the win.

The law of cause and effect states that for every action, there is a resulting consequence. This is a time-tested principle. Anytime you do something, it will create a similar circumstance. Do you agree? 

Here’s what this means for exercise:

Showing up is the cause. Progress is the effect. 

Every time you show up, you get 1% better. That improvement compounds overtime. Eventually, start to see noticeable progress. EVEN before that, you can acknowledge showing up as the win! 

Food For Thought: What would happen if you started to see showing up as the win? 

6 – Identify your energy givers and takers.

You aren’t a victim of your energy level. You have the power to change it. Choose more of what GIVES you energy and less of what TAKES from it. Understanding your energy givers and takers is key.

Examples of energy givers: 

  • Sunlight
  • Hydration 
  • Adequate nutrition
  • Consistent sleep pattern 
  • Dance
  • Music 
  • Fresh air 
  • Self-care

Examples of energy takers:

  • Dehydration 
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Inconsistent sleep pattern
  • Sedentary day
  • Overwhelm/ overworking 
  • Stress 
  • Self-criticism

Aligned action: create your list of energy givers vs. takers! Bring more of the energy givers into your daily routine.

7 – Practice self-compassion.

If you’ve been inconsistent with your exercise habits, you might believe that you need to be harder on yourself. What I’m proposing is the opposite. What if you carried a sense of ease and compassion while pursuing your goals?

Self-criticism only leads to feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, and worthlessness. Self-compassion leads to possibility, belief, and improved self-esteem. 

If it’s difficult to be compassionate towards yourself, imagine that you are talking to a friend. How would you encourage her? What affirmations would you give her?

Key Takeaway

Select at least one of the strategies to implement and experiment within your typical routine. Discover for yourself how taking action can create future motivation!

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