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I can’t seem to motivate myself – help!

By Chuck Groot

What stops me, ah well…

  1. Procrastination
  2. Being overwhelmed
  3. Too tired
  4. Things pop-up
  5. I can only do so much
  6. Really, I didn’t feel like it today

Eric Barker writes; “Productivity systems rarely take emotions into account. And feelings are a fundamental and unavoidable part of why humans do what they do.

We can’t ignore our emotions. Because of the way our brains are structured, when thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win.

And we can’t fight our feelings. Research shows this just makes them stronger.”

In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath say that emotions are an essential part of executing any plan:

Focus on emotions. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people (or yourself) feel something.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is this problem with motivation general or specific to certain tasks?
  2. What is the difference between the tasks I have no problem doing and those which I feel unmotivated for?
  3. What POSITIVE things might happen if I don't get motivated and what NEGATIVE things might happen if I do?
  4. Am I a perfectionist?
  5. Are there messages from my family that are confusing me, getting in my way, holding me back? 
  6. Am I caught in the “Busy Trap”?
  7. Am I relying on willpower?

Sometimes by being honest with yourself you may come up with the root cause and get over the hurdle.

Sometimes that doesn’t work! So you need to use some other techniques such as:

Henrik Edberg suggests you; “Make a deal with yourself. Good for overcoming procrastination and getting things done. You can make the deal small or large. You simple tell yourself something like: When I’m done with this chapter/these reports I can take a walk in the park and enjoy an ice-cream.”

Leo Babauta writes; “Get excited. This sounds obvious, but most people don’t think about it much: if you want to break out of a slump, get yourself excited about a goal. But how can you do that when you don’t feel motivated? Well, it starts with inspiration from others (see above), but you have to take that excitement and build on it. For me, I’ve learned that by talking to my wife about it, and to others, and reading as much about it as possible, and visualizing what it would be like to be successful (seeing the benefits of the goal in my head), I get excited about a goal. Once I’ve done that, it’s just a matter of carrying that energy forward and keeping it going.”

I like what Scott H Young shares; “Go for Five – Start working for five minutes. Often that little push will be enough to get you going.

Corbett Barr has a great idea; “List the top 3 positive outcomes of achieving your task. Think about what you’re planning to accomplish today. Don’t worry about everything that’s holding you back from accomplishing it. Instead, focus on the positive things that will happen once you get it done.”

Vicky Poutas recommends; “Get partner or someone to do the activity with you. Socialization is important. Make a standing appointment to have a friend or family member pick you up to go out. This way you’re held accountable to someone else. If there are no friends or family members available, don’t use that as an excuse. Going to the bookstore and people-watching in the coffee shop is preferable to sitting home alone. Who knows? You may make a new friend. That is certainly motivating.



Emily Co believes that often we don’t have enough light, particularly daylight; “Bring light into your room. Open up your curtains. Let fresh air into your room by opening up windows if it's not too cold and if it's not polluted outside.

Finally, Chris Dessi praises simplification and focus; “Focus.

There is a an anecdote I've heard about Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Gates's father at a dinner party. A guest asked them what the most important quality for success was today and all three responded "Focus" at the same exact time. They all smiled and laughed to each other because they hadn't really prepared the answer.

We are all inundated with texts and emails. These are no longer just work interruptions. Because of the mini-computers we carry around in our pockets, the flood of information distracts us wherever we happen to be, 24/7.

The bottom line is that motivation is a very difficult to understand and even more difficult to maintain for some. But only you can do that.  You can and you will. If you are at the point that you feel you can’t do it anymore, that would be a good time to go see your family doctor or counsellor. We all need help at times. But even getting help sometimes is difficult.

You need to show up! You need to take action! You are important and worth it, so please don’t just sit there. Do something, anything, one thing right now.



Chuck Groot’s CPA, MPA, MBA credentials as an author, teacher, business coach and entrepreneur are noteworthy. His clients credit their success to his uncanny ability to get right to the root of any challenge that they put in front of him.  He credits his success to his clients and their willingness to being open to new ideas and desire in pursuit of excellence. 

As an entrepreneur, his enthusiasm and innovative approach have garnered him both professional success and the recognition of his peers. But his greatest delight is being able to share these skills with others and enabling them to be successful on their own.


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