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What Kills Your Motivation in Work and Life?

Updated on January 17th, 2022
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Zig Ziglar once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Motivation isn’t always easy to maintain. On a daily basis we struggle with internal and external forces that are blocking us from achieving our dreams. But, like bathing, it’s something that we must do each and every day. What kills your motivation?

There’s plenty of advice on discovering what pushes people to trek through those hard and in challenging times. Here is a focus on the things that can kill motivation. Make the proper adjustments and balance to become more successful in work and life.


Unless you want to embark on a little adventure, you usually have an idea of where you going whenever you hop into your car.

Whether it’s commuting to work, going to store, or meeting friends at a restaurant, you have an endpoint.

But, what if there is construction or an accident and the road is blocked? You’re still going to search for alternative routes to get you to your intended destination.

That same principle applies to setting both your personal and professional goals. When you establish clear and attainable goals, you have a better chance of attaining them.

Just like when going to a cafe to meet with an old college friend or potential client. You have a clear destination on where you’re going and you’ll look-up step-by-step directions that will get you there as easily as possible. The directions aren’t vague. There specific, but also easy-to-understand.


“Distraction comes in many forms, but there are three kinds of distractions that are particularly destructive to your motivation,” writes Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO, AudienceBloom.

“The first is the entertaining distraction; you take a ‘quick break’ from work to browse Facebook, and you end up clicking a trail of humorous articles. Before you know it, you’re half an hour into reading, and you have no desire to get back to work any time soon.”

The second type is the work distraction, which is when you have a too many tasks, while the third type is a communication distraction, like when you’re interrupted by phone calls, emails, and instant messages.

“The solution to all of these types of distractions is isolation. If you’re interested in preserving or building your motivation for a short period of time, cut yourself off from everything–disconnect your computer from the Internet, turn your phone off, and don’t let anything draw you away from your primary focus. You’ll find yourself far more inspired to keep working,” writes DeMers.

What if you can’t be isolated? Try ignoring distractions by using desktop applications like SelfControl, listening to music, setting boundaries, changing your scenery, and productivity hacks like batching or the Pomodoro Technique.


Try as hard as you like, there’s no escaping negativity. We’re surrounded by it everyday. Whether it’s watching the news, reading a friends Facebook status, or responding to reviews regarding your business, the world can get pretty bleak sometimes.

Sometimes when we’re constantly bombarded by this negativity it can suck away your motivation and leave you feeling exhausted.

It may be impossible to completely eliminate negativity, but you can start by replacing the Negative Nancy’s and Debbie Downers in your life with people who are optimistic, happy, and supportive.

Block those social media friends who only complain. And don’t get consumed into the 24/7 news cycle. A quick perusal of great news sources in the morning for a half hour, and maybe an hour at night should be fairly sufficient. Keep updated on the news that is relevant for business or that I find interesting.


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie

Simply put, if you want to productively move-forward, then being grateful is one of the most powerful things that you should start doing ASAP.

Start by writing a list of the the things that you’re grateful every morning in a journal, jot down the best things that happened to you today in the evening, and write or say “thank you” to your spouse, client, or barista.

Fear of Failure

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome when it comes to motivation is overcoming the dreaded fear of failure.

Here’s the thing. You’re going to failure. Everyone at some point has experienced failure both personally and professionally. You won’t always get that phone number from the hottie at the bar.

Your business may go bankrupt. Sure. It’s a big deal. But it’s not the end of the world.

You can get over your fear of failure by viewing it as a learning experience, using failure to tweak your vision, and wearing it as a badge of honor that you took a risk and you’re stronger because of it.


Pursuing perfection is the quickest way to kill your motivation. And, I’m going to be completely honest here, perfectionism is a curse. I’ll even add that no matter what you do, it’s never going to be “perfect.”

If you want to overcome this, start by surrendering. As Erin Dougherty writes for Tiny Buddha. “When we surrender to the moment, to change, to messiness or imperfection, we allow the seeds of excellence to grow. Excellence is that drive toward raising ourselves up to our own highest good thereby allowing our unique gifts, talents, and personalities to benefit the highest good of all.”

Extrinsic Reasoning

There are two type of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated internally, like being interested, curious, it aligns with your beliefs, or because it makes you happy. Extrinsic motivation are external motivations, such as money, social status, accolades, or material possessions.

While there are some benefits to extrinsic motivation, research has found that, “it is better to focus solely on intrinsic motivation. Deriving any motive whatsoever from external incentives could decrease performance.”

As explained in Fast Company, “Yale’s Amy Wrzesniewski and her team followed 11,320 West Point military cadets. The team assessed the cadets motives for attending the academy over a 14-year period.

The researchers made a startling discovery: Cadets who entered West Point because of internal motivators were more likely to graduate, become commissioned officers, receive promotions, and stay in the military compared with those who entered due to external motives.”


If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will? Don’t waste your time and energy by beating yourself up or saying that you can’t accomplish a task.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You can make improvements down the road. The most important thing is that you get the ball rolling. You may be surprised that you’re better, stronger, and smarter than you originally thought.

If you need a starting point, write down the things that you know that you’re good at or have experience with and put those skills or expertise to work.


We all have dreams, aspirations, and goals. But until you take action they’re not a reality. So, what’s the fix? Just do it.

No matter how big or small your dream or goal is, take that first step. It won’t be perfect. It may even fail. And, there’s never going to be a “perfect” time.

If you don’t do it now, then when will you? If you overthink it and wait too long you may miss out on a golden opportunity – like asking someone out on a date or registering a domain for your business.

What kills your motivation?

Peter Daisyme

Peter Daisyme

Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. Previously he was the co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online, that was acquired in 2012.

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