David Strittmatter

How to deal with a lack of motivation

I am sure you know this feeling: You don’t want to wake up, get out of your bed and start your day. The reason, tedious work is waiting for you. 

When motivation hits rock bottom 

No matter how much drive you have, no matter how positively minded you are – there are times when even the most motivated people don’t want to get up. 

Right now, I’d say I am pretty close to this state. GMAT exercises and business case preparation become more and more repetitive, progress slows down, and the end of this isn’t even close. 

Rationally I know that I need to put in the work and it’s only a temporary phase. Yet, it bothers me as I could do plenty of other things instead of practicing 30 hours a week. Waking up with a smile on my face feels more difficult these days.

Dealing with a lack of motivation 

Although it is quite natural to have these motivation drops and most of the time they are a temporary phenomenon, I don’t want to accept this decline in quality of life and overcome this phase as fast as possible. 

Fortunately, I know myself well. What helps me most when motivation drops is to think about what makes me happy, not in the short-run but in the long-run. 

Short-term happiness equals pleasure, long-term happiness equals meaningful relationships, achievement, and self-actualization. 

I could stop preparing for the GMAT and the case interviews right now and do something pleasurable instead. In the short-term, I would have a great time from the moment I quit. In the long-run, though, I would be very down if I couldn’t get into the MBA program (the reason why I do the GMAT) or land the consulting job (the reason why I do case interview preparation) I always wanted. 

So, in order to get back at my usual motivation levels and not sacrifice my future happiness, I have to reminisce why I originally started and find a remedy increasing my motivation and not conflicting with my goal. 

Purpose is the key to everything 

All my decisions are premised on fundamental principles. They have to correspond to my long-term vision and mission (aka purpose of life; read my previous article on that topic here). As a result, I only want to land this job in consulting and get into the MBA program because this will help me to make my dreams come true. 

Thinking about the potential success of these endeavors makes me wonder about the importance of these accomplishments. This thought process leads back to the basic question of why. 

Why do I need to get into management consulting? Why do I need to get into this MBA program? Are these goals intrinsically motivated or do I strive for prestige and acknowledgment? Do I really need to achieve these goals in order to fulfill my dreams? 

Luckily, the answer to all these questions hasn’t changed since I made the decision to pursue such a path. Making myself clear what is really important to me leads to the conclusion that all the effort will be worthwhile. As I wrote here (about me page), I want the world to be in a state in which there are no limitations on mobility, access to quality education, and nourishment. 

I don’t have to become a management consultant and I don’t have to attend a business school in order to pursue this dream. Maybe it’s even harmful. Yet, I’ve already evaluated alternatives and made my mind. 

I want to learn from people with the same aspirations. And from what I’ve experienced so far, the probability to meet those people is very high where I want to land a job and do my MBA. I believe in the power of great relationships and mentors. All I want to do in the next few years is to learn as much as possible from inspiring people. 

And now? 

All in all, after this reflection process I feel (more) motivated again. All these hours of practicing will entail a clearer sense of purpose now. When I will wake up tomorrow, I know that I want to practice for a particular reason. Having this opportunity is a reason alone to be highly motivated.

Yet, I think this is not enough to gain all my motivation for these goals back. Therefore, I decided to take a whole day off next week on Tuesday. I will be in Isreal next week and I aim to enjoy this day without even thinking about all my current projects. Just a little break. And as I know myself very well, I am very sure that I will miss being productive and will be very glad to be able to continue working on my goals the next day. 

In next week’s issue of my weekly newsletter, I will let you know if this helped me to become more motivated again. Stay tuned! 

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