Skip to Content

Am I unmotivated or just lazy?

Feeling constantly unmotivated and unable to accomplish goals is a frustrating experience. It’s easy to blame yourself and think you’re just being lazy. But there may be more to it than that. Understanding the root causes of your lack of motivation is the first step to overcoming it.

What is the difference between being unmotivated and lazy?

Laziness implies a lack of desire to exert effort. It’s a conscious choice to avoid work. In contrast, a lack of motivation means you want to accomplish something but can’t seem to summon the energy or drive to do it.

Here are some key differences between laziness and lack of motivation:

Laziness Lack of Motivation
Active avoidance of work Difficulty getting started on tasks
Lack of desire to accomplish goals Wanting to accomplish goals but struggling to make progress
Boredom with responsibilities Low energy and enthusiasm for responsibilities
Intentional neglect Unintentional neglect due to lack of drive

As you can see, being lazy is an intentional choice, while having low motivation is an unintentional state where you want to achieve something but can’t seem to make progress.

Common causes of lack of motivation

If you’ve determined that lack of motivation, not laziness, is the issue, here are some potential causes to consider:

Mental health problems

Conditions like depression and anxiety can zap your energy and make it extremely difficult to feel motivated. Other symptoms like difficulty concentrating also get in the way of starting and completing tasks. Treating the mental health condition is key to regaining motivation.

Lack of interest

It’s hard to feel motivated about something you have little passion for. On the other hand, we tend to pursue our interests vigorously without needing much self-motivation. Consider whether your goals and responsibilities align with your true interests.

Feeling overwhelmed

When you have too much on your plate, just thinking about tackling everything can feel draining. This overwhelm makes it hard to motivate yourself to do anything. Breaking big goals down into smaller, manageable steps can help.

Physical causes

Lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, and other physical factors can worsen motivation. Low energy drags you down. Getting checked out by a doctor can identify any underlying medical issues.


Holding yourself to impossibly high standards can also sabotage motivation. You may avoid getting started because you know you can’t live up to your unrealistic expectations. But progress, not perfection, should be the goal.

Lack of accountability

Humans are social creatures. Having people hold you accountable for chasing your goals can provide external motivation when your internal drive lags. Sharing your aims with a mentor or support group can help.

Unclear goals

It’s hard to motivate yourself to achieve vague objectives you can’t even define. Spend time clearly articulating your short and long term goals so you have something specific to work towards.

Lack of urgency

Goals without clear deadlines and consequences for not achieving them can get deprioritized. If you don’t have urgency pushing you towards your aims, it’s easy to procrastinate. Set firm deadlines and commit to defined outcomes to light a fire under yourself.

Tips for regaining motivation

If you’ve pinpointed potential causes for your lack of motivation, here are some strategies to help get your drive back:

Seek treatment for mental health issues

Consult mental health professionals if conditions like depression are sapping your motivation. Therapy and medication can help manage symptoms so you feel empowered again.

Find work you’re passionate about

As much as possible, pursue projects and roles that align with your interests and values. You’ll be naturally self-motivated to work hard at things you care about.

Set realistic goals

Break big goals down into smaller mini-goals that are less overwhelming. This gives you reachable milestones to work towards one step at a time.

Reduce stressors and distractions

Minimize unnecessary obligations and distractions so you have the bandwidth to focus on what matters. Say no to things that aren’t serving you.

Prioritize self-care

Eat nutritious meals, exercise, get good sleep, reduce alcohol, take breaks – all these habits boost energy and motivation levels over time.

Find an accountability partner

Share your goals and progress with a trusted friend or mentor. Meet or chat regularly to report on achievement milestones to keep you on track.

Visualize the benefits of achieving your goals

Remind yourself regularly about the positive outcomes you’ll enjoy by accomplishing your aims. Envision them vividly as if they’re already real.

Take things one small step at a time

Trying to tackle everything at once is daunting. Just focus on taking one tiny step forward each day, even if it’s just 5 minutes of progress.

Adjust unrealistic expectations

Perfectionism kills motivation. Strive for progress, not perfection. Reassess your goals to make sure they are realistic and achievable.

Reward yourself

Celebrate yourself for completing goal milestones by treating yourself to something you enjoy. Having something to look forward to keeps you motivated.

When to seek help

If lack of motivation persists despite your best efforts, consider seeking professional assistance. A therapist can help you get to the root of motivation issues and develop strategies to overcome them.

See a doctor if fatigue, lack of concentration, or physical symptoms may be contributing to your motivation challenges. An underlying medical issue may need treatment.

Consider hiring a coach to help structure your goals, accountability system, and motivation plan. They provide external support and guidance.


Feeling unmotivated is frustrating but common. The strategies above can help you regain momentum and get back on track. But be patient with yourself. Building motivation takes time.

The key is realizing you have the power to create conditions that allow motivation to thrive. With consistent effort, you can get your mojo back!