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Brain Snacks: Losing Motivation

It isn’t everyday that we are able to put our best foot forward. Unexpected things occur that can cause our mood to make a complete 180. Oftentimes, these unexpected instances are also the reason why we just want to curl up in our bed and do nothing. So, what can be done when motivation is lost?

Let us first look at how motivation is “lost”. According to a study by Valjeaner Ford (2014), students lose motivation because of three things:

  • Inability: they think they do not have what it takes to complete the task

  • Disbelief: they do not believe that they can sustain or initiate the given task

  • Worthlessness: they do not see the value of completing the task.

When it comes to grownups, more often than not, the reason behind losing motivation is overlooked. A reflection from a therapist in Brown University in the United States says that sometimes, mental health concerns aside, a sudden loss in motivation is due to the overwhelming need of achieving a lot of things at once. Another reason, which is especially highlighted during the pandemic, is the stagnancy of our daily lives (Goddard, 2020). Going through the same routine every day while at home without many novel experiences can become tiring. Sometimes, we need a little excitement for ourselves as a change of pace and to get our motivation gears pumping!

With the following reasons for demotivation, we drew from the work of Sirota and his colleagues (2011) and Daniels (2016) to guide us with these four things in order to avoid losing motivation.

  • EQUITY: We want to be respected and treated like our peers and colleagues.

  • AUTONOMY: Although we take orders from our superiors, we must feel free to do our work through our own methods.

  • ACHIEVEMENT: We must be able to celebrate our own achievements, as well as the achievements of the community that we belong to (be that a company, or a group of friends)

  • CAMARADERIE: We have to have good relationships with our peers and colleagues.

According to these studies, when even just one of these three things are lacking or absent, we become less motivated compared to those whose place of work has all three present.

When it comes to students, losing motivation is worrisome for it eventually leads to unfavorable things in the future, such as unemployment due to the constant lack of motivation that they experienced in their early years. Early manifestations of losing motivation in students are disinterest in their academics and hobbies, noticeable lack of effort in achieving their goals, and lack of social interaction among peers in their school (Ford et al., 2005). However, it is difficult to deal with our children’s motivation on our own because their motivation is not just an individual thing that we can help them with, but involves their environment and their interactions with everybody around them in school (Frostad et al., 2015).

Dealing with Loss of Motivation

What do we do when we or someone in our household eventually experience a sudden loss of motivation? The ideas below are some tips that you can try doing. After all, we want to help you find what solution is most suitable for you!

Break tasks into manageable GOALS but not CHORES. This method actually helps us to become more present at the moment. What we mean by “present” is that we do not feel overwhelmed by everything, and that we can do everything that we have to do one at a time. Breaking tasks into manageable goals also helps us defeat the common Ningas-Kugon when starting a new task. Afterall, completing a task feels very rewarding regardless of age!

Reward and be kind to yourself. Maybe what we are actually looking for is a reward to ourselves, no? So, maybe, while waiting for our actual reward from our employer, we can reward ourselves first to get those motivation gears going! We can reward ourselves after completing each task that we have to do! Remember, BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

Have some time for yourself. What if we are just overwhelmed with work that we forget to actually take the time to look after ourselves? Take a break and pamper yourself first before working again.

Ask for help. There is just so much we can do on our own. When you feel that you really cannot handle the present moment, do not forget that you can ask for help! It can be your friends, workers, and loved ones. You can also try asking for help from the following institutions and check if they offer free mental health consultation services.


Brown University. (2021). Motivation: Lost or Misplaced? Brown University.

Daniels, E. (2016). Logistical Factors in Teachers’ Motivation. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 0(0), 1-6.

Fischbach, A. (2018, December 1). How to keep working when you’re just not feeling it. Harvard Business Review.

Ford, V., & Roby, D. (2014). Why Do High School Students Lack Motivation in the Classroom? Global Education Journal.

Frostad, P., Pijl, S., & Mjaavatn, P. (2015). Losing All Interest in School: Social Participation as a Predictor of the Intention to Leave Upper Secondary School Early. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 59(1), 110-112.

Goddard, M. (2020, January 30). Why You’re Losing Motivation as You Age. Health

Mental Health Foundation. (2016, Novemebr 21). What advice would you give to someone lacking in motivation? Mental Health Foundation.

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