21 Things That Can Kill Your Motivation

June 18th, 2012 by Kevin Ngo

Getting what you want in life comes down to getting yourself to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. The problem many of us run into is losing our motivation to do what we have to do.

Coming up with a bunch of ways to motivate yourself is great but I think it’s also useful to identify some of the things that destroys your motivation in the first place. That way, you can figure out what usually causes you to lose your motivation and do something to prevent it.

If taking action is the key to success, then figuring out what stops you from taking action is equally important. The following is a list of 21 common things that can kill your motivation.

1. No Goals

If you don’t have any goals, you can easily find yourself not wanting to do very much. Without a clear direction or purpose, life can seem pretty uninspiring. Take some time to figure out what you want in life. What kind of experiences do you want to have? What sort of impact do you want to make? How do you want to be remembered?

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” – Robert H. Schuller

2. Weak Desire

Having a strong “why” is vitally important when it comes to motivation. You can have goals but if your desire to achieve them is weak, any number of things can discourage you and kill your motivation. If your desire is weak, either come up with stronger reasons for achieving the goal or choose another goal, something that actually excites you.

3. Lack of Instant Results

This one is the biggest reason why so many people start a workout or diet program and end up quitting 2 months later. This is usually a result of expecting too much too soon. Give yourself a reasonable time frame. Any goal is achievable if you have enough time, assuming that you’re doing the right things.

4. Lack of Support

When you feel like no one believes in you or supports you or cares about whether or not you accomplish your goals, finding the motivation to keep pressing on can be difficult. Look for people who will support and encourage you. Also, support the dreams of those around you. You just never know how much of a positive impact your support can have on someone.

5. Lack of Belief in Yourself

You can have the motivation to start taking a lot of action but if you don’t truly believe you can accomplish your goals, you’ll eventually stop and end up saying, “I knew I couldn’t do it.” When you let negative thoughts control you, you’ll start to doubt yourself and your motivation will plummet. Try reading positive material and filling your mind with confident thoughts. If possible, hire a coach or find someone who has achieved the results you want to help you out.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

6. Low Energy

It doesn’t matter how motivated your mind is, if your body is lacking in energy, you won’t be able to do much. Take care of your body. Eat right and get some exercise. You can get a lot more done when you have the energy to bounce out of bed in the morning compared to having to muster up every ounce of energy you have just to drag yourself out of bed.

7. Distractions

Distractions will constantly show up from every direction. Give into them and your focus will be thrown off course and when you stay off course for too long, your motivation will eventually deteriorate. One way to deal with this is to constantly ask yourself whether or not what you’re doing at the moment is taking you closer to or away from your goal.

8. Boredom

Often times, the big picture is more exciting than the details but in order to get from where you are to where you want to be, you need to work on the details. If your goal is to lose weight and you find running to be extremely boring, that could kill your motivation. In this case, finding another calorie burning activity is important. If you run a business that requires you to do a lot of boring tasks and it’s killing your drive, hire someone else to do those things.

9. Negative People

Negative people can suck the motivation right out of you. Their negative attitude and discouraging remarks can be a huge energy suck. You should do what you can to avoid these types of people as much as possible.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

10. Negative News

The world seems to have an endless supply of bad things happening, at least according to the media. If you spend too much time focusing on all of the bad things that are going on in this world, it can deplete your motivation quite quickly. Since the media focuses mainly on the bad, because it sells, try balancing that out by focusing on the good.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

11. Lack of Action

There are many people who will set a goal, create a plan, and then wait for the perfect time to start. This could be the start of a new year, the beginning of next month, after the summer ends, etc. The best time to take action is when you first set the goal. The reason is because by taking action right away, you’ll create momentum. This momentum can help to increase your motivation. If you wait too long, that excitement will decrease and so will your motivation.

12. Not Having a Clear Plan

Without a clear plan, you’re bound to waste a lot of energy and time. Trying to get from point A to point B without a map to point B can frustrate you and kill your motivation as you realize how much energy and time you’ve wasted and how you’re not that much closer to your achieving your goals. Figure out what you need to do and schedule it into your daily activities.

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” – Winston Churchill

13. Having Too Many Goals

Achieving a major goal can be hard enough on its own and when you have too many goals, your focus is scattered. Often times, you end up not achieving any of them. Of course when this happens, the disappointing results can zap your motivation. It’s often better to just choose one goal so you can put all of your focus on it and achieve it than to spread yourself too thin and end up not achieving anything.

14. Fear of Failure

This is major motivation killer. For many, just the thought of failing can be enough to obliterate any motivation they may have. This is a tough one to overcome but just keep in mind that a lot of the biggest accomplishments were a result of the many failures that preceded them.

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

15. Feeling Overwhelmed

Remember back in college when you had a project to do or a paper to write and just the thought of how much work and time it’s going to take was enough to make you nauseous? Looking at everything you have to get done all at once can often be too much to handle and break your motivation. The key is to break it all down into small, manageable steps.

16. Doing Something You Hate

If you hate what you do, it’s tough to find the motivation to give it your all. If you need motivation just to get up in the morning and drag yourself to work, it may be a good idea to create a plan to get yourself into a line of work that you actually enjoy.

17. Comparing Yourself to Others

For some, comparing themselves to others can help motivate them to push hard for their goals but for others, it can crush their motivation. Realize that we’re all different and if comparing yourself to other people is causing you to slow down or retreat from your goals, think how much further you’ll be behind 10 years from now. Don’t let the current success of others hinder your progress.

18. Having Too Much Time

When we have too much time to do something, some of us tend to procrastinate. People tend to be super motivated to get things done when the deadline is right around the corner. April 15th ring a bell for anyone? As the saying goes, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.”

19. Lack of Information

For many people, not having enough information, in terms of what to do, can wreck their motivation by prohibiting them from taking action. Even if they find out what to do, some people get too bogged down in figuring out every last detail. Although being prepared is important, sometimes, it’s better to just fire first and aim later.

20. Setbacks

Setbacks can be devastating to one’s motivation. Making progress or even achieving a goal only to have it be taken away from you can make life seem pretty unfair. Realize, however, that setbacks are a part of life. We all go through them. Setbacks are part of what gives life its juice. Our proudest accomplishments are usually the ones where we had to dig deep in order to find out what we’re really made of and were forced to grow in order to overcome the difficult challenges standing in the way of our goals.

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

21. Fear of Criticism

Most of us mere mortals have a fear of being criticized at some level. This fear can wipe out our motivation and even cause some people to quit on their goal altogether. Just keep in mind that there isn’t a single person on this planet who has achieved any great level of success who doesn’t have someone hating on them. Don’t let the opinions of others force you to abandon the things that are most important to you.

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard


By figuring out what commonly kills your motivation, you can plan ahead and come up with ways to prevent it from happening and increase your chances of achieving your goals in the process.

Which of these do you relate to most?

Now that you know what can stop your motivation, here are 100 Powerful Messages to Help You Take Action.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends. Thanks!

Go back to the main Self Improvement page here


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