You feel unmotivated and discouraged? We all do, sometimes. One of the main differences between people who get things done and those who don’t, is that the do-ers think about what they need to do, they don’t rely on their feelings to guide them. They can think about what needs to be done, make a plan, and carry it out.

If you allow your feelings to dictate your actions (as people who are depressed often do), you’re likely to feel discouraged and also experience other knock-on effects.

Being guided by feelings alone is a recipe for all sorts of negative outcomes. This is because our feelings affect our mood, mood affects attitude, and it is attitude affects motivation. A positive outlook and attitude are more likely to help someone get things done. This is especially important on the days they may not feel like it. They do it anyway. 

‘Unmotivated’ isn’t the problem

Another problem with telling yourself that you are unmotivated is that it cannot be accurate. People who are genuinely unmotivated don’t worry about it enough to say so. If you are concerned about not turning your need to do something into action, then you are motivated, but you just aren’t getting on with it. That’s a different problem (and so needs a different solution), from suffering from a lack of motivation to ge something done.

By contrast, somebody who allows their feelings to dictate their actions (as people who are depressed often do), is likely to feel discouraged and also experience other knock-on effects. These include poor motivation, lowered confidence (confidence comes, in part, from doing things and knowing we’ve acted), and feeling helpless… and more (including a risk of depression).

Forget ‘lazy’

Nor are you lazy. Some of my client’s describe themselves that way when they feel unmotivated. I explain to them that laziness is a judgement, and as judgements stop you thinking clearly, saying you are lazy is an unhelpful way to go about things.

I’ve written about this reliance on feelings elsewhere in this blog, see for example, The Logic of Depression. I’m not saying that relying only on feelings causes depression, but it is one of the key risk factors, since it leads to self-referential thinking, and tends to stop you reality-testing.

To get out of the feelings-only trap, learn to separate thoughts and feelings. They are different activities. accept that you can feel something, but you can also think. Your feelings might say “I don’t feel like doing it”, and you can think, “I’ll get on and do it anyway”.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.