Why Motivation Doesn’t Work & What to Do Instead

By: Melanie Nelson
How often have you said the words “I feel so motivated” versus “I’m just not motivated to [fill in the blank]“? I think we’ve all said that last one more times than we can count! In the end, motivation doesn’t work – but why? We’ve dug into why motivation doesn’t work & what you should be relying on instead.

Why Motivation Doesn’t Work & What to Do Instead

Motivation is a nice visit, but she is a fleeting one which makes her hard to rely on when we’re aiming for consistency. But why?

Motivation is often based on emotion or feeling. 

How often has the alarm gone off and all you want is to roll over, sleep in and not go to work, but you got up and went anyway!? Exactly!

If we acted solely on how we feel, we probably wouldn’t have a job, a business or a marriage anymore. Feelings come and go, they fluctuate quickly and life would be incredibly dramatic if we followed every whim. When it comes to our health, weight-loss and fitness goals we can tend to do just that; relying only on the feeling of motivation to eat healthily or exercise. This doesn’t lead to a stable lifestyle, vitality, or long term results.

What to Do Instead: Engage inconsistent actions that build new habits, no matter how unmotivated you might feel. Another word for this? Discipline! Training yourself to stick to your habits is a better way to create a new lifestyle, and it helps when we have a friend or coach helping to keep us accountable!


Motivation often comes from outside yourself.

Motivation is best when it comes from the inside. Your heart, your purpose, your reason for wanting something has longevity because it is what matters to you! External motivation is more fleeting because, as we know, things can change very quickly. Things pop up, excuses come into play, and we’re backing off of our healthy habits before we know it.


What to Do Instead: Ask yourself what the real reasons are for wanting to be healthier. Why you want to be fitter, leaner and stronger? Why is it important for you to lose those unwanted pounds?

Is it to feel confident, sexy, and be a more powerful version of yourself? Is it because you want to be around for your kids, grandkids, and lead by example? Is it because you know you were meant for more and you know you will need your body and energy to achieve those dreams? Those reasons WHY are permanent fuel that is ignited within you when you focus on them, unlike motivation, which is like an external kick in the butt! Sure, we need it, but it can get kinda old. Find the burning passion and reason you want what you want and you won’t want for motivation. You will be inspired from within and on a mission!
Motivation needs to be refilled every day. 

Sometimes it’s a quote, a book we read, a song on the radio, a story we heard, a video we watched, or a podcast that gives us a little push in the right direction. We suddenly feel motivated to do something we weren’t before, and this isn’t a bad thing! By all means USE it, but don’t rely on it.

Why? Because motivation is like a good cup of coffee; it needs a refill constantly. Motivation doesn’t work if it runs out on us!

What to Do Instead:  Be purposeful about using those motivational tools. start your day off right with your favorite music, meditation, a motivational podcast, or an audio to get you up and motivated to start the day. Grab a motivational book to read at lunch and end your day with gratitude and intention, outlining your goals for the next day.

These are great ways to stay on track with all your goals, not just your health goals!


These are tools and techniques to keep our head in the game and you’ll notice that successful people tend to teach these tools as well! So, when your motivation is waning and you’ve taken your eye off the prize, remember to rely on something more stable and refill your motivation as you go. May it overflow! 
Thanks for reading! Which of these three was more impactful for you?
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