Dealing with demotivation (part 5)

Here on the blog, August 2018 has been dedicated to dealing with demotivation. We’ve thought about:

For my final post, let’s tackle the difficult duo of stagnation and fear of change.

The demotivating impact of stagnation

When we set ourselves goals, we often make quite swift initial progress. We’re full of enthusiasm and we’ve set up systems to keep us on track. Sometimes on the way to a long-term goal, progress slows down or even stalls. Our actions are no longer getting the same results and it’s really frustrating.

If we want to continue to progress, what are our options?

Einstein said, ‘if you want different results, do not do the same things.‘ Perhaps it’s time to shake it up and try something different. If you’ve reached a plateau in your running, maybe you could try swimming. If you just don’t seem to be getting any better at your online Mandarin course, perhaps it’s time to find a native speaker. If your goal is work-related and you seem to have gone as far as you can with your current responsibilities, can you discuss this with your manager? Perhaps can you be seconded to a different team for a few months to expose you to new challenges; maybe she has a project on which she needs your help or there’s a new skill your team needs and you can be sent on the training course.

To emerge from stagnation, try something different and allow yourself to be ‘susceptible to surprise‘.

The demotivating impact of fear of change

I wrote about fear as a demotivator a couple of posts ago after which a newsletter subscriber emailed me to ask me about a specific fear – fear of change.

He wanted to know what happens if a goal can’t be achieved without it affecting other areas of our life. For example, if your goal is to become a manager, maybe your life will change. Maybe you’ve imagined some of the ways in which it could change. Perhaps you’re more worried about the ways you can’t yet imagine.

As I have written before in ‘Is it possible to be scared of success?‘, this fear can become so demotivating that people quit before they’ve even started work on their goal.

How do we handle fear of change?

As with any other fear, the first step is to acknowledge its existence and to unpack it. For example, what might be the impact of you becoming a manager?

  • it may alter your current relationships at work
  • it may impinge on your social life if you have to travel more or work different hours
  • it may mean you have to let go of an aspect of your work you really enjoy

You can probably think of other areas it may affect too.

The next step is to weigh up those possible changes and compare the benefits of staying where you are to the potential benefits of moving forward. As Elizabeth Appell so eloquently put it:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

When the benefits of moving forward outweigh the benefits of staying where you are, you are freed up to take the next step.

Today’s pebbles for you to ponder:

  • Is stagnation or a lack of challenge sapping your motivation? What one thing can you do differently this week to get you out of a rut and back on track?
  • Is fear of change holding you back? Will you identify the specific elements of the fear and then weigh them up against your current position?

motivation zig ziglarIn conclusion, why have I spent the last five posts writing about demotivation? Because in my years of coaching, I have seen that demotivation is like an obstacle in our path – that obstacle could be a fallen tree, a blocked tunnel, or a road surface mired with a dangerous substance. We can’t use the same remedy to fix each of those issues and in the same way, different types of demotivation need their own solution. I hope that these posts have helped you to think through what demotivates you and the action you could take to get yourself back on track.


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like some help to find your motivation again,
why not email me to see how we can work together?



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