Where Does Your Motivation Go When You Lose it?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"I've lost my motivation."

"I just can't seem to find the motivation I need to stick to this."

"I do fine for a couple days, but then I just can't seem to stay motivated."

How many times have you said something like this to yourself? Probably more than a few times, if you're like me.

But have you ever wondered where your motivation goes when you lose it? If you knew that, it would probably be a lot easier to find it again, right?

If I had $10 for every hour I've spent trying to track down my motivation, or wondering what's wrong with me when I couldn't find it, I'd be rich. Still unmotivated, but rich. But all that wasted time and mental energy did teach me one important thing: that my motivation hadn't gone anywhere. It was my mind that had gone wandering off in the wrong direction, like a blindfolded contestant in a pin the tail on the donkey game.

Motivation isn't something you can find or lose, or something you can get from anyone or anything else. If you really want to accomplish something, you already have all the motivation you need, and there's nothing to go looking for.

The problem for me was that there were lots of other things I wanted too, and some of them didn't mesh too well with the things I had to do in order to accomplish my weight loss and health goals. Like wanting to chill out on the couch for a while instead of hitting the gym, or endulge in a little comfort eating at the local pizza parlor instead of chopping and steaming those veggies on my menu.

If you find yourself choosing the couch and the treat more often than you'd like, the absolute WORST thing you can do is to start thinking that you've lost your motivation. That just makes you feel helpless and down on yourself, and/or sends you off on a wild goose chase looking for something you already have.

What you actually need to do is train your wandering mind to remember how much you really want to accomplish your goal and how good it feels to do what it takes to make this happen. When you can remember that feeling, and call it to mind in the moment when you actually have to choose between chilling on the couch and doing your exercise, or between the pizza and the steamed veggies, making the decision you want to make will be much easier. You may still decide to go for the couch and the pizza once in a while, but you'll know it's your decision, and not the result of some mysterious problem called "lack of motivation." And that will be OK. You won't need to get all worried about losing your motivation, or get down on yourself, because you'll know you can make a different decision whenever you want to.

The real motivation-killer is thinking that "being motivated" means not having these conflicts between opposing desires, or expecting that you'll do the "right" thing every time. That's what leads to feeling guilty or defective, and beating up on yourself--and that's about as helpful as a broken leg is to a runner. Sometimes, cutting yourself some slack is just what you need.

So, here's my advice: stop wondering where your motivation went, and kick all that negative self-talk to the curb. Instead, come up with at least one thing you can do to help train your brain to remember how motivated you really are. Here's a link with some suggestions to get you started.

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EVIE4NOW 5/30/2021
Thank you for the great insight. Report
CATNAP6291 1/31/2021
good article Report
SHERRYGAYL 1/25/2021
Excellent new perspective! Report
very interesting article Report
WILDKAT781 8/29/2020
thank you Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Great article giving me a much-needed different perspective. Thank you! Report
Good article. Wish all new people would read this. I think most of us struggle with all the changes at the beginning. (At other times, too.) Thank you! Report
Excellent points. I like this shift in perspective! Report
Pretty good article actually. Relatable for sure! Report
Good article. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
I like this one because I can relate to it. Report
Thx Report
I guess we all wonder where our motivation has gone every now and then. Thank you so very much for this article Report
A very good blog, thanks for sharing. Report
Excellent article. Report
I just keep trying. I think I get complacent and lose desire. I have all the motivation I need. Report
thanks. Report
I can do it. Report
Excellent! Thanks Report
Excellent! Thank Report
Excellent article, well done! Report
Ver good information Report
Great article! Report
I want pizza. Report
Very good blog! Report
Very good blog! Report
now this makes sense and something I can work on....and move a head and get results...

Thank you coach Dean Report
I'm really glad I found this article even if I did find it a bit late. I've never thought of motivation like this before and I really like it. I'll have to keep it in mind, especially when I'm down on myself like I have been the past few days. You're totally right. To exercise or to eat right have to be conscious decisions which means sitting on the couch or ordering take out also have to be conscious decisions. Thanks so much for this wonderful insight! Report
This is just what the doctor ordered! I have saved this for myself and sent it to others. I needed a good talking to and you gave it to me, so thanks! I will tune in for more of your wisdom. Report
Touche` Report
Perfect day to read this. Yesterday I had to make myself do what excersises I did and I didn't do them all. My granddaughter had to encourage me to take my walk. She walks with me every day and when I saw she was disappointed, I went. But the motivation was not there! Last night I wanted a huge slice of greasy pepporini pizza.......good thing we live about 20 miles from town..lol... I settled for a bowl of cereal. I'm saving this to favorites and reading it every day! THANKS for your timing. Report
I just got to say you are THE MAN Couch Dean, You continue to impress me with your insightful words that are truly applicable. Ive been in and out of therapy my entire life and heard all these messages before....and yet never understood them. I cant say thank you enough! Report
this is sooooo true Report
I read quite a number of years ago & do believe it (although need to say it over & over like a mantra sometimes): Motivation follows action. In other words, sometimes you just need to "do it" and the motivation follows -- not the other way around. In other words, motivation can build over time through habit. So when I get to that place where I'm just stewing about being lazy, having no motivation, being a failure, can't get myself to stand up from my desk & go exercise, this will be a good reminder for me. Report
This is a great article that I will save just in case I need a kick in the pants! Report
My Motivation is so bad, I am really very lazy lately and I don't know why.
It is like I have given up on the weightloss yet it is really something I need to do and want to do. I will read the tips and see if they can help me. Report
~Gasp~ You mean, I wasn't burning calories while I searched all over the house, looking for my motivation???

~lol~ Report
well said. thank you Report
A much needed reminder (in the linked article) for me that my motivation needs to be internal or intrinsic. It is too easy to focus on things like the reading on the scale or only be motivated by the comments and expectations of others. These things can too easily distract and discourage. If this is a true internal desire then when I am distracted by choices that will take me off track I need to take a moment and look inside to rekindle my motivation. Report
Awww, now you've outed us? Report
I definitely needed to read this blog tonight. Thank you so much!! Report
I'm glad I read the article. Needed to remind myself that the scale shouldn't determine whether I am successful or not. Lots of truth about owning your choices, and the need for self-exploration. I do need to think more about why I put off going to the Y. I know some of it is anxiety/fear of what others will think of me, and I know that it shouldn't matter. Report
This reminds me that I told myself I was taking the summer off from the gym but now it is fall and I need to get a program at the gym again. I really need to give being active a solid go again............ Walking the dogs isn't aerobic! Report
Motivation comes and goes. If I can just get started, I'm always glad I exercised. Having people on this site who are counting on me to log in helps motivate me and hold me accoutable. Report
Excellent article and quite helpful for me as I work from home and am faced with daily guilt over how self-motivated I am or am not. You guys might also want to check out this professor who has made a very productive life simply by being a productive procrastinator. That is, rather than get down on himself when he wants to avoid something, he just works on something he'd rather do instead, and has ended up being a very productive human being as a result:
This is a very good article. Now if I could only do it. Like a lot of people said is easier said then done. Report
this really opened my eyes. I always thought that once I ate that slice of pizza instead of the steamed vegetables and/or sat on the couch instead of go to the gym that I had failed. I can be soooooo hard on myself and just make it worst to the point where I just want to give it up just for one mistake because I think my motivation is gone. But your right it is right there.I just have to tap into it. Thanks Report