Have you ever made a promise to do something, but then really struggled to find the motivation to do it? Did you keep putting off the task until it was too late or no longer relevant? If the latter, you probably wondered why it was so important in the first place!
In those instances, what did you do?
Did you hunker down and force yourself to be motivated, take a (too) long break and never get back to it, making excuses to yourself and others, or pass off the task to a colleague?
We all struggle with lack of motivation from time to time. We think that’s a bad thing, but that isn’t necessarily the case! Instead, lack of motivation may be telling you that something is not right and requires adjustment.
It may be a sign that:
- You’re tired and need a rest. Research has found that when we are tired we don’t perform at our optimal best. Taking some time to rest, relax, and catch up on some sleep might be just the thing needed to get you back on track.
- The task might not be right for you. You may not have the knowledge, skill or experience to complete the activity. You may have agreed to do it, not knowing what the task might entail, only to discover that you aren’t equipped to carry it out. It may be that you require more information or assistance. The sooner that you identify and address the problem, the sooner you can get started!
- You might not think the task is all that important. It may have been assigned to you, but you’re not really sure why it is important or relevant. There may be some missing information that you were not privy to, that, once shared, will increase your understanding of the task’s importance. Asking for more information on how the task will contribute to the team and the company will help provide perspective on the matter.
- The task might not be important. In contrast to number 3 above, you may have been assigned a task as a make-work project. You know it, your supervisor knows it, and the team knows it. While it would be relatively easy to ‘blow off’ an irrelevant task, your response to the situation shows a lot about your character. Choosing not to complete something assigned to you by your boss is never a good strategy. Instead, you may want to consider asking about the task and why it was assigned to you. If there is acknowledgement that it is a make-work project, you can suggest some other things that you could work on that will be of greater value to the team and organization.
- You have too many other things going on. We sometimes experience drops in motivation when we have a lot of things going on and we’re having trouble juggling them all. You may be feeling overwhelmed, not knowing where to start with all that you have to do. Taking on just one more thing could cause all of the balls to drop. One way to approach the situation is to determine which tasks are most important and which are okay to delay or drop. Your added task may be important enough to take on and to let another one go. Or perhaps there are other alternatives to getting the task done. Delegating to others, extending timelines, and negotiating with your manager about the tasks you are working on are ways to ensure that you can effectively complete everything on your plate.
- You don’t have a timeline for completion, or the timeline is far into the future.Having a definitive timeline to complete work usually stimulates activity, even if one is not motivated. A looming deadline stirs up our adrenaline and then we get going! When there is no impending deadline, or it is far into the future, it is easy to postpone and procrastinate. Setting your own timelines to ensure that the work is done on a timely basis is a good approach.
- The task seems too large. When we perceive a task as very large and believe that it will take a long time to complete, it is challenging to get started. The task seems insurmountable and often we stall. To make the task less daunting, try breaking it down into smaller pieces. It is easier to start work when the moment of completion is in sight. By finishing several small sections of the greater task, the task in its entirety will appear much more manageable.
I’m sure there are other reasons why we experience lack of motivation. The moral of the story is that, instead of being hard on yourself when your mo-jo is lacking, take your lack of motivation as an opportunity to find out what is and isn’t working. It’s a time to readjust and ensure that you are performing at your best in a way that is valuable to both you and your team.
What are some reasons why you have lacked motivation, what did you learn about yourself as well as others, and what did you do about it?