Most people want to succeed and do well in the things that matter to them and those around them. However, sometimes, the environment and circumstances work against us and cause us to loose energy and enthusiasm in what we do. Everyone will get demotivated some time in their lives and there is no shame in it. We just need to know how to get ourselves out of the deep sticky pit of de-motivation.


Let’s start exactly where you are.

What’s the problem?

Are there external road blocks that is causing you to be de-motivated in what you do? If so, then perhaps getting people to help you problem solve might be helpful.


Is the lack of motivation a case of perspective?

Sometimes, a task can become mundane and boring when all we see is the action and activity that we need to engage in. However, if we can find a different perspective to that activity such as scoring more marks for the sake of it, or working hard to make a living, then the task will have greater meaning. Ask yourself what does the task contribute to in the larger scheme of things. If your task was not done well what are the consequences to society and the world. For example, if your task is repetitive keying in of data, then ask what is that data used for and how does it contribute to the knowledge or inventions or products that are made. How do these inventions help make the world a better place?


Is there a purpose in what you do?

What’s really important to you? What is your life’s purpose? What are the big goals and dreams that you have for yourself, your loved ones, society, the world. The task that you have on hand may not be any where close to that big dream but if it contributes even just one step closer to what you want, there is purpose in what you do.


To start with, write down the answers to these questions:

  • How do you want things to be different?
  • What would you really want to do?
  • What might the perfect future look like for you?


There is a saying that the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. So to make those answers a reality, lets start by understanding how motivation works and the baby steps we can take.


There are 2 types of motivation
Extrinsic motivation

This is the tangible reward that you get from an external party. E.g when you score high points and you receive a prize. Fear of punishment can some times also be extrinsic motivation.


Intrinsic motivation

This is the internal reward, the sense of fulfilment, happiness and satisfaction that you get when you do something that is of value to you. Often, external rewards are not needed to get you to do the task as performing the activity is reward by itself.


How to make use of both internal and external motivation
External motivation

If you absolutely dislike doing some things that you must do. Create a to-do list and break-down the task into bit-sized chunks. Reward yourself with every very little step that you take or task that you complete. The reward could something tangible like your favourite snack, or paste a little star next to that to-do list. Our brain reward processes is such where it associates the good feelings with the things that we expose ourselves to. Hence if we pair up doing a unpleasant task with a pleasurable reward, our brain remember that. For more positive reinforcement, match the amount of the effort or accomplishment of the task with the size of the reward.


Intrinsic motivation

Over time, you may find that it becomes easier to do the task. This could be because, that action is becoming a positive habit or the task is becoming easier as we become more familiar with it. When we get into that state of flow, where we move from getting flustered about the task, to doing it with ease, we usually start to enjoy the activity.





Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-Determination Theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49, 182-185.
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