what to do when you lack motivation. Project Me for Busy Mothers www.myprojectme.com

What To Do About A Lack Of Motivation

I’m normally a positive and energetic person. I talk and move fast, my brain is filled with a steady flow of non-stop ideas and I rarely feel bored. 

So feeling a complete lack of motivation over these past few weeks has been very strange and unusual. 

It started with a horrible stomach virus which morphed into a bad cold and cough. But even 10 days later when I ‘should’ have felt back to normal, I couldn’t muster up an ounce of enthusiasm for anything.

I didn’t want to work – which has never happened since starting Project Me. I didn’t want to socialise, I couldn’t be bothered to think about food or cooking. My poor family.

I wasn’t depressed and I didn’t feel hopeless. I just had a drawn-out case of the Blahs. Yes, it’s happened to the Mama Motivator herself!


I’m a real latecomer to the whole ‘Downton Abbey’ party, but I managed to speed through the first three series – vegged out on the sofa for hours on end.

I was now officially bored, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Or maybe I did, but my complete lack of motivation meant I couldn’t be bothered.

I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when a comment under a post caught my attention. It mentioned an app called Brainwave which apparently contains ‘binaural programs to stimulate brainwave frequencies to create specific states of mind’.

Hmmmmm…….  I downloaded the Brainwave app and saw that I had 32 states of mind to choose from, such as Stress Reduction, Creativity Boost, Anger Relief, Reduce Anxiety and Euphoria (!). There was even one called Espresso Shot and another for Hangover Relief.

I decided to go for a simple Motivation Boost.

It requires wearing headphones or earbuds and my hubby very kindly eagerly loaned me his best quality DJ headphones. He was getting very sick and tired of me being sick and tired and was glad to finally see me doing something to help myself.

I wish I could tell you that 40 minutes later I was singing zip-a-dee-doo-dah and swinging from the chandelier, but I didn’t actually notice any difference.

Well, maybe a little because I decided to go to the gym and listen to another one called Positive Mood Boost on the elliptical machine.

After 20 minutes I was bawling my eyes out, using my gym towel as a tissue and hoping no one around me was paying attention. This wasn’t working. 

I went home and crawled back into bed.

My hubby had booked a trendy, fun restaurant for a date night that evening and it was everything I could do to get myself ‘dolled up’ just before it was time to leave.

He poured us two shots of tequila and we took a taxi into town.

A couple of well-made margaritas and some tapas later, I was feeling more conversational. Hubby was up for a bigger night than I was, so I teetered along in my heels to another part of town to hit to a DJ bar he loves.

We got there and it was shut. Although here in Madrid, nothing kicks off before 1am, so we were probably just an hour too early.

We scored another drink at Gorilla Bar, then hailed a taxi and headed back to the ‘burbs. My mood was so melancholy again that I made poor hubby listen to ‘Party Down The Line’ by The Replacements on Spotify as I crooned along.

We got home and found ourselves locked out, each one blaming the other for not bringing a set of keys. There’s nothing like arriving home drunk and having to wake your teenagers up to let you in. We’ll have no leg to stand on when the tables are turned on us…

I won’t get into what happened next, but suffice to say that hubby got annoyed when I decided to take my makeup off instead of climbing into bed with him. It did not end well.

So the next day I was back to feeling flat and blah, only now with a hangover on top of it.

Yes, I used the Brainwave app and set it to Hangover for 30 minutes. I had to try something.

I watched another few episodes of Downton Abbey and bawled my eyes out again.

Then, as it was a gorgeous, sunny day, I got out and took a walk in nature with my 16-year-old son.

He’s taller than me now and it was comforting to feel his arm around my shoulder as we walked and talked.

I told him how I was feeling and apologised for how disconnected I’d become.

He encouraged me to think about what there is to feel grateful for (A chip off the old block, eh?) and to also think about those who aren’t as fortunate as I am. 

He then went into a 10-minute rant about the immigration crisis to the point where I finally had to tell him that he wasn’t cheering me up!

Back at home, I had a slight surge of motivation to try something more to snap myself out of this sorry state.

I reached for the book ‘ASK and It Is Given’ by Esther Hicks and went to her Emotional Scale, identifying myself as being Unmotivated and looking to see what process she suggests for moving myself up a level on the scale.

If you think of emotions as being on a ladder, we aren’t meant to climb immediately from a low rung straight up to the top. It’s about getting ourselves up just one rung on the ladder. And from that place, we can move up another rung. 

So I grabbed my journal and did Process #12 which involves writing ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if….’ and filling in the blank. The reason it works is because when you say ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if…’ you are choosing something that you want, and you’re being soft and easy about it. You’re activating the vibration of your desire without questioning the validity of it.

So I wrote ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I woke up tomorrow and felt like my old self again?’  ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if I felt fired-up, energetic and enthusiastic?’ ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if this turned out to be a great learning experience and an opportunity to help others when they are feeling this way?’

Then I went ahead and did Process #13: Which Thought Feels Better?

To begin, you write a brief statement of how you’re feeling now. Mine was ‘I’m sick and tired and bored of feeling sick and tired and bored.’

Then you write another one which amplifies how you feel. ‘THIS TOTALLY SUCKS!’  Then a few more statements like this, before you tell yourself ‘I’m now going to reach for a thought that feels better about this subject.’

‘I want to feel better.’ ‘I know I will get better soon.’ ‘It’s been good timing for me to feel this way now as it hasn’t affected any plans or travels or important work commitments.’ ‘I am gentle and patient with myself.’ ‘I allow myself time to feel better.’ ‘I feed myself with positivity.’ ‘There is no pressure.’ ‘I’ll be back to my old self as soon as I’m ready.’ ‘I listen to my body.’ ‘I love myself.’

And do you know what?

The next morning I woke up and things had shifted. I felt like the fog had lifted.

I felt cheerful with the kids before school. I sat down and worked for several hours. I didn’t take a nap or watch TV.

It was pouring with rain outside but my mood stayed positive.

And the following day I felt a burst of creative energy like I hadn’t felt in ages!

I sat down and began writing my Project Me book. I posted this on Facebook.

The words flowed out of me non-stop and hours later I returned to my Facebook post and found many wondeful messages of encouragement. Thank you. 

So I’m officially back to my old self again and wondering how I can turn this experience into something useful for you.

6 Things I Could Have Done About A Lack of Motivation: 

  1. Force myself to eat better. My lack of motivation led to poor nutrition which was probably a vicious circle.
  2. Write 10 things I’m feeling grateful for each day. I know this works, I just didn’t think of it.
  3. Tapping / Emotional Freedom Technique. I did it once and it did help, but then I forgot to do it again.
  4. Guided Meditations. I stuck with my daily morning meditation using the Insight Timer app, but I could have done others while I was lying around.
  5. Bach Flower Remedies. Hornbeam for that ‘Monday morning feeling’ or even Gentian or Gorse for despondency. These always work a treat for me, so why didn’t I try it? 
  6. Call a member of my Power Posse. A good friend would have reminded me to do some of the things listed above, just as I always do for them, so it was silly not to! DOH!

The sad thing about a lack of motivation is that you lack the motivation to want to help yourself! I’m seeing that now with wide open eyes.

So, as your Mama Motivator returning to duty, what can I do to help you when you don’t want to help yourself?

In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

What do you do when your mojo goes MIA? What would help when you run out of steam and need some get-up-and-go?

I’m back and I’m here for you. x

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  1. Karen on April 11, 2016 at 9:48 AM

    I’ve been in such a slump too. What’s going on? Something planetary?
    I appreciate your honesty as it makes me see it’s just a phase and that I need to do small things to help myself instead of thinking I can just snap out of it.
    I’m going to use those same processes you used and see if they help me too! Would you recommend the whole book?
    Thank you again. I feel like you are always in my head and know how I’m feeling! Keep up the great work with Project Me. I learn something new every week from your newsletters. X

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 10:04 AM

      I’ve now heard from several people who say the same thing Karen! Yes, perhaps something in the stars!

      I love the book ‘Ask & It Is Given’ by Esther Hicks, but I must put out a VERY heavy woo-woo warning! If you can’t wrap your head around a woman who’s channeling Abraham from the other side, you may have hard time swallowing the wisdom this book contains. But if you’re open minded – give it a go! It really resonates with me and the different processes for various emotional states work for me.

      Thanks for your very lovely words – it warms my heart to know my newsletters are well received 🙂

  2. Barbara on April 11, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    I need goals to keep myself motivated. When I lack a clear direction in what I want to achieve, I lose my drive. I know you are big into goals too Kelly! I’m excited for your book. Where can I advance order? 🙂

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 10:09 AM

      I certainly am big into goals Barbara! I have small and big goals written down for each of my 8 Key Life Areas and I review them monthly. Each day I use a Design My Day Planner to keep me focused on what’s important to me.

      But being sick threw me so out of whack that I lost sight of my goals. What I’ve learned is that goals are great, but sometimes (particularly after an illness), we just need to nurture ourselves and give ourselves a break. I gave myself the break, but I sure wish I’d done those 6 things above too.

      Thanks for your support on my book! If you’re on my mailing list you’ll get updates and be the first to know how to pre-order! 🙂

  3. Suzie Douglas on April 11, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Hi Kelly.

    I loved reading this post. I absolutely know the feeling you describe. It sometimes feels as though I have so much to do – and yet, I really don’t feel like getting up and doing ANY of it. It’s not depression, just a blip which can sometimes kick in for a morning, a day or even more. As Karen said, it’s really reassuring to hear that other people get this too. Sometimes I have to almost physically lift my shoulders, take a deep breath and think – Right! Let’s DO this! Before I can actually find the motivation to carry on. For me, you hot the nail on the head when you talked about getting out into nature – going for a walk, maybe a run, maybe some gardening. Something which takes you out of yourself, and makes you look at the bigger world I think really helps to get you back on track.
    And one other thought too: When you and I spoke, your advice was to break projects down into manageable chunks. This is something that I have held onto over the last year or so and it has been an enormously helpful mantra. It’s just too daunting to have a project like: ‘redecorate the living room’, ‘look for a way to get back to work’ or even ‘start a small business’. You taught me to approach each project as a series of small steps. What is the FIRST thing I need to do to get me a little closer to my goal. When you realise that each step is small (‘Go to B&Q and pick up a paint chart’) I find the motivation naturally comes flooding back. So… I need to get out of my PJs now, off this computer, and start on today’s baby steps! x

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 11:20 AM

      I loved our Master Your To Do List session Suzie and I’m so happy that after so long you are still remembering to break those overwhelming projects down into baby steps.

      I love your tip about lifting your shoulders, taking a deep breath and telling yourself to DO THIS! And yes, getting outside is always such a great idea.

      Thanks for your very lovely and insightful comment which will help others too! xx

  4. Aimee Foster on April 11, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    I’ve been feeling exactly the same recently! Thank you for posting this, I guess it happens to us all at times. I think I just got burnt out and need some sofa time to recover. Hope to be back to normal soon… I’m so glad you got your mojo back and well done on starting the book! Xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 11:23 AM

      I’m living proof that it happens to the best of us – ha ha! I hope some of my tips resonate with you and you’ll take a small step or two towards lifting yourself up again and then re-entering the fray with a more gentle approach. It’s easy to burn out when we approach everything with such gusto all of the time!

      Take good care Aimee xx

  5. Karin on April 11, 2016 at 10:38 AM

    It’s definitely in the stars. I felt exactly the same a couple of weeks ago – I also got ill and it took weeks to recover and then the slump took over. And, like you say – there are all these aids to help, but when in a slump like that, you somehow don’t think of them? I eventually got motivated by doing a gratitude list every day and meditating – it took a while, but I got there. Many of the quotes you post on Facebook also help! Looking forward to your book!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 11:25 AM

      I’m so happy you’ve come out the other side now too Karin. Good for you on the daily gratitude and meditating. I’m happy you like the motivational posts on my Facebook page and thanks for your words of support on the book! 🙂

  6. Zoe on April 11, 2016 at 10:43 AM

    Thank you Kelly. Reading your post made me laugh and smile. Life has been very heavy for the past week but I am now shifting through it. Knowing I am not alone and that I can email you makes a big difference. Can I call you as a part of my power posse? I’m also a DJ and was very interested to read that it seems your husband is too. Great stuff! Much love xxx

    • Zoe on April 11, 2016 at 10:43 AM

      Past week ha! Past year is what I meant

      • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 11:30 AM

        Oh no – a whole YEAR?! I’m so glad you’re shifting through it and hope you’ll find some inspiration in my 6 Things I Could Have Done above to keep you moving forward.

        I love how clicking on your name brings us to your DJ website! What a great sounding job Zoe 🙂 xx

  7. Catarina on April 11, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    The stars for sure! I have also been there and am just reconnecting with the clear focused me. I turned to yoga to get me through it and could have just meditated all day 🙂

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      I don’t know much about astrology or planetary effects on our moods and emotions, but there seems to be something there! Yoga and meditation are wonderful tools. Keep going Catarina! The world needs what you’re delivering 🙂

  8. Lisa on April 11, 2016 at 11:41 AM

    You’ve put into words the way I’ve been feeling for a few weeks now!! Thank you!!

    I’ve taken your list and will make it a priority – sadly, I run a busy, vibrant web agency and I’m just not finding my spark, feeling vibrant or wanting to do anything.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 11, 2016 at 2:30 PM

      Now that I know what it feels like to be unmotivated for a length of time, I can put myself in your shoes and I KNOW how hard it is to even want to try things that might help.

      So I’m here to cheer you on to do what you’ve said you’ll do and make this a priority! I’d love to hear which things you try and how they work for you. Come back here if you need another push, Lisa! I believe in you 🙂

  9. maria stewart on April 11, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    Something definatley in the air, I have felt the same the last couple of weeks. It’s hard to get my head round because I’ve not been ill and I’m not depressed but just feel burnt out with it all. I’ve forced myself to run a bit more and spend more time outside which has helped and got some friends round tomorrow night after not seeing anyone for weeks!
    Glad you got your mojo back Kelly, I hope to be back to my normal self very soon!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 12, 2016 at 5:52 PM

      You’ve described exactly how I was feeling Maria. It’s great to hear that running and being outdoors helped and of course, getting your social life back on track again is always a fab idea!!!! I’m sure you’ll get your groove back soon too. Try some of my tips 🙂

  10. Angie on April 12, 2016 at 3:02 AM

    It is comforting to know that one is not alone in how we sometimes feel. I have had the same feelings for the past two months. I gave a pm infection that detained me and left me physically powerless and mentally distracted and confused. It was only last week when I locked myself out and had to go to the building manager downtown to get an extra key to my place. In a way I felt as the fog was gradually disappearing, and as if I were liberated from a self-imposed imprisonment both emotionally and intellectually.

    A week later, I am still trying to keep the mental and emotional fog at bay, especially after starting knitting for the first time in my life. Still I do need to start working on my important projects and finding a way of breaking these huge projects into manageable baby steps. Hopefully I will be able to do it.

    Thanks Kelly and thanks everyone for your advice and inspirational stories.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 12, 2016 at 5:58 PM

      Wow – so many of us are experiencing this! I’m sorry yours is dragging on for this long, Angie.

      Because I know how hard it is to motivate yourself when you’re down like this, I BEG you (ORDER you) to choose one thing my list of 6 above to do each day. Or add some of your own ideas. Just one thing to help yourself each day.

      Oh, and there’s the written processes I described too which I did on the day before I snapped out of it, so if I were you I’d start with that in case it has the same magical effect on you!

      Please report back. I’m sending you a virtual hug! xx

  11. Mariah Dolan on April 12, 2016 at 4:58 PM

    So sorry to hear you were feeling down, but happy to hear you found a way to work through it.

    I especially love this quote: “We aren’t meant to climb immediately from a low rung straight up to the top. It’s about getting ourselves up just one rung on the ladder. And from that place, we can move up another rung.”

    That rings so true for me…sometimes I need to hang out on a rung for awhile and work on things rather than sprinting up to the top!

    While I feel great right now, I guarantee I’ll feel non-motivated once the summer comes because I’ll have my 4 kids home 24/7…and well? We’re freaking busy NON-stop so work starts to take the back burner and I lose my motivation.

    Will file these strategies away until then!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 12, 2016 at 6:02 PM

      Yes, understanding the emotional ladder and only thinking in terms of one step at a time is super helpful.

      Let’s address this utter conviction you have that you will feel unmotivated this summer, Mariah. Your thoughts create your reality and so you need to re-frame how you’re feeling about this and set yourself up for success.

      My Summer Strategy Kit contains a brilliant worksheet (if I do say so myself) for getting super clear about your Dream Vision for summer and then creating action steps to make that vision come true. Look out for details in my newsletter! Every mother deserves a good summer 🙂

  12. Heather on April 16, 2016 at 10:23 AM

    Hi Kelly,
    I have so been there. Especially after being sick and out of the gym, has to do with the lack of all those great natural stimulants (yes, I forget the name ) the body produces when at the gym. I literally force myself back to the gym, and luckily as hubby and I have be a running crossfit competition between the two of us, I have him checking to make sure I go. Plus my workout buddies are constantly sending me notes to see where I am. Without the support of hubby and friends to get myself back in shape and to eat healthy, I think I would be a lump on the sofa!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 16, 2016 at 4:54 PM

      Such a great point Heather! We need those endorphins to trigger the feel-good factor. Great that your hubby is your workout buddy and that you have his accountability as well as your other friends. I have that too and it makes a world of difference! 🙂

  13. Renee on April 27, 2016 at 8:22 PM

    I just had a chance to catch up on my Project Me posts and loved this one. I so appreciate you Kelly, and your realness with your own experiences. And clearly it struck a cord with your readers, what a gift. I already download the Insight App and reviewed your book reference. My go-to motivation lifter are my girlfriends, love the idea of them as my Posse! Thank you for your writings and desire for busy moms to stay on track but most importantly, true to themselves.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on April 28, 2016 at 3:38 PM

      Awww – thank YOU for such a wonderful comment Renee! You’ve made my day. I’ll love to hear what you think of Insight Timer app – come and join the Project Me group within the app for lots of great recommended meditations. And hang on to those GFs! They’re GOLD. x

  14. Leonor on May 20, 2016 at 12:04 AM

    Thank you for sharing this!!!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 20, 2016 at 11:49 AM

      I’m glad you saw it Leonor! I think you will love ASK and It Is Given 🙂 xx

  15. Lena on October 29, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Hi kelly. I just found your post and felt abit relieved i wasnt the only one who lack motivation. I have goals in mind but never the action. With 2 little kids to take cars of i find it difficult to focus even on 1 task. Its not even hard! But i seem to give myself some slack quite often and seem very stuck in a vicious cycle thats affected my health and lifestyle now. Like for eg. Im not hungry but crave for mcdonalds due to convenience and yet i hate it at the same time because im not really a mcd fan and prefer eating salads. But even the thought of cooking healthy food or making salad seem bothersome to me now. Or to carry out the plans of making art and craft with my kids or even going out for a stroll… Arghhh the inner frustration of not being able to overcome it is very depressing indeed. Sigh… i dont have support atm as its just me with the kids. Anyway… thank u for reading my complaints, i will try your method. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on October 29, 2016 at 5:42 PM

      I’m glad you see now that you are absolutely not alone in going through this period of lack of motivation. Just know that it’s a phase and it will pass. It will pass much quicker if you take some small steps to help yourself.

      It’s easy to read a blog post like this and think ‘great ideas!” and then click away and not action any of them, so I encourage you to choose one idea that resonates and take action on it. If you want me to decide for you … take #2 above. Grab a notebook and write down 10 things you’re feeling grateful for – big or small. Do this again tomorrow and the next day after that. Make your gratitude list a daily habit. Have fun with it – write down seemingly silly stuff like toilet paper and tampons! (Women in other parts of the world would dream of this.)

      Let me know how you get on Lena. Sending you a big virtual hug x

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