Land Your Dream Job
Careers that help you move from intention to action
woman with head on desk

Everyone struggles with it sometimes. But if left unchecked, a lack of motivation can negatively impact your confidence, attitude, and productivity—both inside and outside of the office. In 2017, it was even reported that 71% of American workers are doing the bare minimum or just plain unhappy at work, which costs employers a whopping $300 billion every year.

Read on to learn about some common causes for loss of motivation workplace. How can you get over it? And should it be taken as a sign of a more serious problem.

Unmotivated at work

If you find yourself feeling unmotivated or disengaged at work, don’t beat yourself up. There is nothing wrong with feeling that way. Sometimes demotivation is an isolated incident, like on a slow day at the office. But if you feel unmotivated frequently, it helps to understand why so you can figure out a productive solution.

There are some common reasons for workplace demotivation:

  • Dissatisfaction with your job function or salary;
  • Job insecurity;
  • Lack of recognition for your contributions or achievements;
  • Lack of team camaraderie;
  • Poor leadership; and
  • Boredom.

Potential solutions

You may not have direct control over factors like job insecurity or poor leadership. But there are certain issues that you may be able to resolve yourself.

  • Are you dissatisfied with your salary? Or do you want to take on more responsibility within your organization? Then you can try speaking to your manager or an HR representative.
  • If you feel your contributions are not being acknowledged, you may need to advocate for yourself a bit more. Try sharing your accomplishments at team meetings and having a candid conversation with your manager.
  • Feeling disconnected from your team? You can help organize a team lunch or after-work outing to work on those interpersonal relationships.
  • If you feel bored at work, you can evaluate what is causing your boredom and what you would rather be doing. For instance, if you feel that your role has stagnated, pay attention to the roles and responsibilities of your managers and co-workers—this can help you to set a new career goal, as well as inspire new ways for you to participate at work.

5 ways to find your motivation

Knowing why you feel demotivated is crucial. But keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to solve the problem overnight. A solution will require some thoughtful introspection and planning on your part. Here are tips to help you climb out of your slumpand make sure you’re getting your work done in the process:

  • Take a break. You may just need to step away from your desk for a short walk or chat with a co-worker to recharge your battery during the workday.
  • Remove distractions. Don’t keep several applications open at the same time on your computer—especially not your inbox and internet browser—unless they are pertinent to the task at hand. Put your phone on “do not disturb” mode to resist temptation to check your personal email or social media.
  • Create your own momentum. Whether you have a short or long to-do list, it can help to break those tasks down into simple steps and focus on one at a time. Completing each step may very well give you the satisfaction to move on to the next step and the step after that.
  • Reprioritize. You may be piling too many things onto your daily to-do list and your sense of overwhelm is causing demotivation. Make your daily to-dos more focused and manageable. Commit to no more than three high-priority to-dos every day, as well as a handful of lower-priority items. To make this easy for yourself, your daily to-do list can be shaped by the task breakdown you did to create your own momentum.
  • Bribe yourself. This could be getting your favorite fancy coffee once the workday is done or it could be having a fun event to look forward to. Give yourself a reason to do a great job until you have more insight into what is clearly not working for you at work. 

Red flags

If you've tried out these strategies and still feel unable to reignite your motivation, it may be a sign of a larger problem.

Even with a positive, proactive attitude, you will find it increasingly difficult to motivate yourself at work if you feel mismatched with your job, organization, or industry. If you suspect this is the case, do your homework. Learn about other opportunities at your workplace. Figure out what you like about your job and what you would like to be doing, ask your co-workers about what they think your strengths and contributions are, and research other roles and organizations of interest. Once you have that information, you will have a stronger sense of whether you need to make a change.

A lack of motivation can also be a sign of a health issue, like depression or a thyroid problem. Take into account any other physical or mood changes you nay have experienced recently. If you think your health may be part of the problem, share your observations and concerns with your doctor so you can work together on an action plan.

Remember your "why"

Whatever the source of your demotivation—including the red flags—it is important to not lose sight of your goals. Why did you accept the job you currently have? What benefits are you experiencing because of this job? Sometimes, reminding yourself of your "why" can rev up your motivation so you can continue to do your best work.


Have you ever struggled with a lack of motivation? Tell us about it on Twitter

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni profile image

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni is a writer and creative coach in New York City. She helps women living with chronic illness and mental health challenges to pursue their passion projects without compromising their health.

Explore Jobs on Idealist