There is no such thing as an "unmotivated person"

Motivation - like confidence - is something that a lot of people seek out resilience coaching to help with.


The more resilient you are, the more motivated you are likely to be. Not because being great at one automatically makes you great at the other, but because both of these involve building a deeper connection to ourselves and an understanding of how our minds work. And having great habits. Resilience, confidence and motivation all depend on your habits. What I love most about this is that it means anyone can become more motivated (or resilient or confident) simply by taking the trouble to understand how you tick and putting a few simple behavioural shifts in place.

Surely motivation is about discipline?

This is the most common narrative, isn’t it? If you’re not motivated then you lack discipline - shame. On. You. Not only is this false information but it’s also setting you up to fail at motivation. Because self-shaming might be a way to force yourself to stick to something in the short term, but it won’t drive you for longer than a week. For genuinely consistent motivation that comes from a deeper place, you need something more.

There are two key things to note if you feel like you have a lack of motivation:

  1. What you believe about yourself is the driving force here.
  2. The habits you need for good motivation are probably not what you think they are.

Identity - the driving force in motivation

By “identity” I mean what you believe about yourself and about the world. These identity statements usually sit in your unconscious mind. You may not even be aware of what they are. Which is why you can end up continuously trying to make changes (e.g. be more motivated) and just keep failing.

The trick here is to start with your beliefs - which is why a deeper, clearer connection to ourselves is so important for generating motivation - and to root out those beliefs that are behind identity statements that are holding you back. “I’m just not a motivated person” is an obvious example. If you’re repeating this to yourself, out loud, in your head or even as an unconscious narrative, then it’s going to dictate how you act.

Like this: “I’m just not a motivated person” creates negative comparisons to others and attacks your self-esteem. It’s probably justifying repeated cycles of giving up - or not even trying in the first place.

So, what happens if you decide that you want to change that identity statement for a different one? Can it really be that simple? Yes, indeed it can. Simple - but not without effort. The simplicity is that all you have to do is choose the new identity statement. The effort comes in proving this to be true about yourself every day. 

The process of embedding new beliefs about yourself

“I am a motivated person” might at first feel a little difficult to believe. And it’s also a little non-specific. So, you can go with an identity statement that feels easier to integrate at first and which is more targeted. Such as “I am someone who makes effort every day to exercise/be creative/be kind to myself.”

Making this feel true happens through repeated actions that prove it to be credible, such as doing some form of exercise, creativity or self-kindness every day - consistency is key.

 The right kind of consistency matters

What’s critical here is to make sure you have the right view of consistency. Being consistent doesn’t mean doing the same thing - or the hardest version of the thing - every day. It just means doing something.

In the context of exercise, for example, that might mean a run on Monday, a walk on Tuesday, a CrossFit class on Wednesday and four sit-ups on Thursday. Every single one of those will contribute to proving the identity statement that you are someone who makes an effort to exercise every day. Yes, even the four sit-ups.

Every time you stop and notice that you’ve done what you said you would, you’ll get a little dopamine hit that will spur you on for the next day. On the other hand, if you have a brutal view of consistency - that tells you small things don’t count - you’re repeatedly sabotaging your motivation through perfectionism and denying yourself that dopamine.

What about motivational habits?

Ice baths? Meditation? Green juice? Sure, do all those things and whatever else is going to make you feel good. But those aren’t the habits I’m talking about because they are not the really powerful ones. A lack of motivation (in anything) often comes down to fear. Which is why the most crucial habit you can get into is self-compassion.

Again, with self-comparison, we come up against cultural narratives. This time that self-compassion is weak and ineffective - and that pushing and forcing yourself will work better. I honestly just want to cry when I hear people saying this because it’s just such bad data.

When you feel truly motivated (because we’ve all had at least a few moments of feeling like that) what’s happening inside you? I’d take a guess that it’s a warm, excited, expansive feeling. It’s good energy. It’s suddenly being aware of possibilities and believing in yourself. It’s not fear of consequences. Or shame. Or anger. Those things are very short-term motivators that are like being shoved forward. You’ll move, but not far, and you might have put your back out from the force of it (if you’re over 40 like me). 

What I’m trying to highlight here is how much more motivation comes from self-compassion - and I define this as both being kind to yourself but also gently guiding yourself forward. In practice that might sound like self-talk along the lines of “Ok, you feel like you can’t do [this] and you don’t have [that] - but what can you do - and what do you have?” Start with the tiniest baby step - but start. 

Motivation that sticks doesn't just happen in the mind

This is a process of stepping away from the kind of negative, shaming “motivational” practices that put your nervous system into a mild state of panic and instead, motivate yourself with a more positive force.

Nervous system panic = an inability to access problem-solving, perspective and rationality because all your energy is going into thinking about the perceived threat that triggered the panic.

Nervous system calm = being able to make good decisions and take action and calculated risks because you feel safe.

It’s kind of logical when you look at it like that.

So, now that you’ve read this article I never want to hear you describe yourself as an unmotivated person ever again ok? Because it’s not a label you need to stick on you. With a shift in what you believe to be true and a powerful self-compassion habit, there is really nothing that you can’t do.

Resilience coaching is all about building this strong connection to yourself - and understanding how your body and mind work when you take away all of the bad data we’ve absorbed from the world around us. Simple tools, powerful insights and workable strategies and actions allow you to make changes, fast, through resilience coaching. Whether that’s feeling more confident every day or making life-changing decisions about what you do next.

I also deliver one-hour motivation coaching workshops for companies, which have been described as “game-changing” - and offer practical tools and powerful insights to generate real mindset change in this crucial area of life.

Book a discovery call to find out more about one-to-one coaching or corporate workshops.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Winchester, Hampshire, SO23
Written by Alex Pett
Winchester, Hampshire, SO23

Alex is an ICF trained and NLP cert coach focused on helping people to deepen their resources to adapt and bounce back - and go on to thrive. She works with resilience to help clients build confidence, recover from burnout, be assertive, set boundaries, find joy and move beyond limiting beliefs. Clients achieve tangible change in 6-9 sessions.

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