Asking others to motivate you will never work

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I am going to share an unpopular opinion.

Asking others how to motivate you is a waste of time, is lazy and is a terrible way to take responsibility for your own change.

If you don’t know or understand yourself well enough, a stranger on the internet is not going to know enough to motivate you. If you can’t take the responsibility to motivate yourself, why expect a stranger to do it?

What shows more effort and more responsibility?  Sitting down and working out what motivates you or asking a Facebook group for advice (that you probably not going to take anyway) or how to motivate you? If you can’t figure it out, what chance do they - people who have never met you - have of getting it right?

Now some of you are thinking, I don’t do that. I ask how others motivate themselves to see if I can make that work for me. Which is true, some people do this. 

But how are you actually making this work for you?

Are you taking note of the different strategies, rating them to see which is most likely to work for you? Spending time thinking about why each one is more or less likely to work? Experimenting and recording which is working, how you’re feeling, the changes it is making?

If you are, great.

If not, you’re letting yourself off the hook by feeling like you’re taking action when you’re not.

Are you thinking that I’m being too harsh? The truth is if you want change to happen, you need to show up and DO things.  But it’s not as hard as you might think it is.  Instead of asking ‘how can do you motivate you’ or ‘what do you do that I can do’, do this instead.

Think about what motivates you, as the unique and amazing individual that you are.  Think about what you want out of life and why.  Think about all the things that you gain out of NOT making the change you kind of want to make but you’re not motivated enough for.  You only do the things you do (including all your bad habits and lack of good habits) because you get something out of them. What is it? Why does it matter to you? How are you enabling this behaviour in yourself?

What has motivated you to make changes in the past? Even if these changes do not seem like the ones you are trying to make now, the motivation aspect of that change then will help you see how to motivate yourself now.

What structural changes to your life would you need to make for this change you want to happen to continue happening even when you’re not motivated? Because you won’t be motivated all the time. Are you prepared to commit to those structural changes?  For example, if you want to run Parkrun every week, are you prepared for your Friday nights to look a little/lot different? If you can’t commit to a Friday night that doesn’t end at 3am being rat arsed, you’re not really committing to an early Saturday morning start. 

You need those structural changes to reinforce those habits that will keep you moving forward on all of the days you don’t feel motivated. And there will be many. Because no matter how awesome you are, you’re still just a human. And no human is motivated all the time.

You not feeling motivated is not a failing. But you don’t have to ‘fail’ just because you are not motivated. 

How prepared are you to deal with setbacks and feeling like you’re not making progress?  What’s your plan for when you don’t feel motivated? How will you keep yourself accountable?  How can you change that feeling that this is a ‘fail’ to accept it is part of the process and something you can work on?

Instead of asking strangers on the internet ‘how can I motivate myself?’, here are better questions to ask yourself.

  • Why do I want to make this change?
  • What will making this change mean to me?
  • Why haven’t I made it before?
  • What do I gain from making this change?
  • What do I gain from NOT making this change?
  • Am I committed to making structural changes so that I have an embedded habit for when I am not motivated?
  • How have I created change for myself in the past?
  • How prepared am I to try and ‘fail'?
  • How will I deal with not making the rate of progress that I want?
  • How am I most likely to fuck myself up over this?
  • What steps can I take to prevent this?


Angharad Boyson

Founder and Head Coach, bright rebel coaching ltd

I am a coach who specialises in helping people live fearlessly with passion, purpose and balance. After 17 years in the Royal Air Force, I was ready for a change. But I wasn't really sure what that change was. Qualifying as a coach has taught me a lot about how my self-worth isn't tied up in my occupational identity, that living passionately and with purpose doesn't have to mean working every single hour and that I can feel fulfilled, happy and whole without working 60+ hours a week. It's not an exaggeration to say that my life is very different these days! I work with clients to: Establish your goals and understand what changes you would like to make. Identify why these changes are important to you. Create an action plan to make positive and unambiguous change at mindset, cognitive and behavioural levels. Predict obstacles and how to overcome them. Increase your self-awareness so that you naturally begin to coach yourself. I’m an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, hold a Masters in Occupational Psychology, trained with Barefoot Coaching, enjoy triathlon training, vanilla lattes and movie time with my 6 year old daughter and my husband. I am currently based in Canberra, Australia (so do come and follow bright rebel coaching on IG if you'd like to see some photos of the gorgeous scenery here)! I do face-to-face coaching as well as audio-visual coaching and a limited number of workshops and webinars on holistic topics such as wellbeing, resilience and goal-setting.