What's Your Excuse? 21 Ways to Kill Your Motivation

The new year is upon us and millions of people from around the world are hoping this coming year will be better than the last by making a New Year's Resolution. 

A recent Finder survey reveals that 141.1 million adult Americans — or 55.31% of all American adults — think that following through on their New Year’s resolutions is well within the cards. But according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8 percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, while around 80 percent fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.  (Even though we don't believe in "failing", only learning opportunities)

Bottom line:  the odds are not in your favor that you will follow through on a New Year's resolution! 

Making a change and getting what you want in life comes down to getting yourself to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. The two biggest reasons for not following through is lack of commitment and loss of motivation.  Coming up with a bunch of ways to motivate yourself is great but I think it’s also useful to identify some of the things that destroy your motivation in the first place. That way, you can figure out what usually causes you to lose your motivation and do something to prevent it. 

If taking action is the key to success, then figuring out what stops you from taking action is equally important. The following is a list of 21 common things that can kill your motivation.

  1. No Goals 

If you don’t have any goals, you can easily find yourself not wanting to do very much. Without a clear direction or purpose, life can seem pretty uninspiring. Take some time to figure out what you want in life. What kind of experiences do you want to have? What sort of impact do you want to make? How do you want to be remembered? 

  1. Weak Desire 

Having a strong “why” is vitally important when it comes to motivation. You can have goals but if your desire to achieve them is weak, any number of things can discourage you and kill your motivation. If your desire is weak, either come up with stronger reasons for achieving the goal or choose another goal, something that actually excites you. 

  1. Lack of Instant Results 

This one is the biggest reason why so many people start a workout or diet program and end up quitting 2 months later. This is usually a result of expecting too much too soon. Give yourself a reasonable time frame. Any goal is achievable if you have enough time, assuming that you’re doing the right things. 

  1. Lack of Support 

When you feel like no one believes in you or supports you or cares about whether or not you accomplish your goals, finding the motivation to keep pressing on can be difficult. Look for people who will support and encourage you. Also, support the dreams of those around you. You just never know how much of a positive impact your support can have on someone. 

  1. Lack of Belief in Yourself 

You can have the motivation to start taking a lot of action but if you don’t truly believe you can accomplish your goals, you’ll eventually stop and end up saying,“I knew I couldn’t do it.” When you let negative thoughts control you, you’ll start to doubt yourself and your motivation will plummet. Try reading positive material and filling your mind with confident thoughts. If possible, hire a coach or find someone who has achieved the results you want to help you out. 

  1. Low Energy 

It doesn’t matter how motivated your mind is, if your body is lacking in energy, you won’t be able to do much. Take care of your body. Eat right and get some exercise. You can get a lot more done when you have the energy to bounce out of bed in the morning compared to having to muster up every ounce of energy you have just to drag yourself out of bed. 

  1. Distractions 

Distractions will constantly show up from every direction. Give into them and your focus will be thrown off course and when you stay off course for too long, your motivation will eventually deteriorate. One way to deal with this is to constantly ask yourself whether or not what you’re doing at the moment is taking you closer to or away from your goal. 

  1. Boredom 

Oftentimes, the big picture is more exciting than the details but in order to get from where you are to where you want to be, you need to work on the details. If your goal is to lose weight and you find running to be extremely boring, that could kill your motivation. In this case, finding another calorie-burning activity is important. If you run a business that requires you to do a lot of boring tasks and it’s killing your drive, hire someone else to do those things. 

  1. Negative People 

Negative people can suck the motivation right out of you. Their negative attitude and discouraging remarks can be a huge energy suck. You should do what you can to avoid these types of people as much as possible. 

  1. Negative News 

The world seems to have an endless supply of bad things happening, at least according to the media. If you spend too much time focusing on all of the bad things that are going on in this world, it can deplete your motivation quite quickly. Since the media focuses mainly on the bad, because it sells, try balancing that out by focusing on the good. 

  1. Lack of Action 

There are many people who will set a goal, create a plan, and then wait for the perfect time to start. This could be the start of a new year, the beginning of next month, after the summer ends, etc. The best time to take action is when you first set the goal. The reason is that by taking action right away, you’ll create momentum. This momentum can help to increase your motivation. If you wait too long, that excitement will decrease and so will your motivation. 

  1. Not Having a Clear Plan 

Without a clear plan, you’re bound to waste a lot of energy and time. Trying to get from point A to point B without a map to point B can frustrate you and kill your motivation as you realize how much energy and time you’ve wasted and how you’re not that much closer to your achieving your goals. Figure out what you need to do and schedule it into your daily activities. 

  1. Having Too Many Goals 

Achieving a major goal can be hard enough on its own and when you have too many goals, your focus is scattered. Often times, you end up not achieving any of them. Of course, when this happens, the disappointing results can zap your motivation. It’s often better to just choose one goal so you can put all of your focus on it and achieve it than to spread yourself too thin and end up not achieving anything. 

  1. Fear of Failure 

This is a major motivation killer. For many, just the thought of failing can be enough to obliterate any motivation they may have. This is a tough one to overcome but just keep in mind that a lot of the biggest accomplishments were a result of the many failures that preceded them. 

  1. Feeling Overwhelmed 

Remember back in college when you had a project to do or a paper to write and just the thought of how much work and time it’s going to take was enough to make you nauseous? Looking at everything you have to get done all at once can often be too much to handle and break your motivation. The key is to break it all down into small, manageable steps. 

  1. Doing Something You Hate 

If you hate what you do, it’s tough to find the motivation to give it your all. If you need motivation just to get up in the morning and drag yourself to work, it may be a good idea to create a plan to get yourself into a line of work that you actually enjoy.

  1. Comparing Yourself to Others 

For some, comparing themselves to others can help motivate them to push hard for their goals but for others, it can crush their motivation. Realize that we’re all different and if comparing yourself to other people is causing you to slow down or retreat from your goals, think how much further you’ll be behind 10 years from now. Don’t let the current success of others hinder your progress. 

  1. Having Too Much Time 

When we have too much time to do something, some of us tend to procrastinate. People tend to be super motivated to get things done when the deadline is right around the corner. April 15th ring a bell for anyone? As the saying goes, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” 

  1. Lack of Information 

For many people, not having enough information, in terms of what to do, can wreck their motivation by prohibiting them from taking action. Even if they find out what to do, some people get too bogged down in figuring out every last detail. Although being prepared is important, sometimes, it’s better to just fire first and aim later. 

  1. Setbacks 

Setbacks can be devastating to one’s motivation. Making progress or even achieving a goal only to have it be taken away from you can make life seem pretty unfair. Realize, however, those setbacks are a part of life. We all go through them. Setbacks are part of what gives life its juice. Our proudest accomplishments are usually the ones where we had to dig deep in order to find out what we’re really made of and were forced to grow in order to overcome the difficult challenges standing in the way of our goals. 

  1. Fear of Criticism 

Most of us mere mortals have a fear of being criticized at some level. This fear can wipe out our motivation and even cause some people to quit on their goal all together. Just keep in mind that there isn’t a single person on this planet who has achieved any great level of success who doesn’t have someone hating on them. Don’t let the opinions of others force you to abandon the things that are most important to you.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or, in other words, a good intention is meaningless unless it is followed by good action. Part of achieving your goals is to be aware of obstacles and challenges that could trip you up on your path to success and have a plan to deal with those obstacles. A significant obstacle for most is the loss of motivation when the road to change gets hard or becomes routine. Have a plan to deal with the inevitable and you'll be one step closer to achieving your goals! 

Thanks for reading!

Jeff Miner and the rest of the TPI Team

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