S3EP6: Dealing with Demotivation

The Autodidactic Podcast
The Autodidactic Podcast
S3EP6: Dealing with Demotivation
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Hello and welcome to episode 6 season 3 of the autodidactic podcast.

So this season is about my destupidification project, and I want to be completely honest with my listeners. I am struggling. In the last episode I talked about time management techniques and prioritisation. This is because I needed to re-prioritise and to reduce the amount of time I spent on the project.

I can tell you this simply has not worked. Although the time management techniques are effective and I can use the time which I had made available, the main issue at the moment is my energy levels are very low. So in this episode I want to try and delve into what you can do when, like me your motivation has fallen off a cliff, but you still want to soldier on.

In this weeks episode I will look into the things to do in order to get your motivation back and I’ll report on my progress on the YouTube channel. I hope that if you’ve encountered the same problem with over commitment and lack of energy this podcast will be of use to you.

The first thing to try is some introspection and discover why you’ve lost your motivation to study. In my case it is fairly obvious. I’ve got a new, highly pressured job and it sucks up a lot of mental energy. In addition, I’m tired and not sleeping regularly enough. But demotivation is a category of problems, containing many variations. So you need to look below the surface of the problem and try to tease out all the de-motivators if you’re going to be able to eliminate them.

There is a long list of potential demotivators, and it is only after you identify and eliminate them all that you’ll be fully motivated and ready to go again. Here are some demotivators to look for:

  • Fear – you might be going outside your comfort zone, and it is causing you anxiety which in turn is a demotivator.
  • You’ve got the wrong goals – If your goals aren’t clear, or your not aligned with them, they can become a demotivator.
  • Occupation about the future – If yo’re worried about what might happen tomorrow, then you can’t focus on today and your immediate goals.
  • Fatigue – You may simply need more rest. If your overburdened, demotivation rears its ugly head when we’re extremely tired.
  • Being overwhelmed – One of the major causes of lack of motivation is feeling overwhelmed. If you just have too much, and you feel defeated by the pile of things to be done.
  • Procrastination – the more you set your tasks aside, the more demotivated you get. And, without enough motivation, your output will also suffer.
  • Impatience – Wanting to be done can demotivate you. When impatience affects our motivation, we are even more prone to quitting.
  • Lack of progress – Not seeing any visible progress towards our goals and ambitions can be extremely demotivating.
  • Lack of flexibility – If you are doing the same thing day in and day out then for some people the lack of variation will become a de-motivator.
  • Conflict – If your goals, ambitions, study plans are in conflict with your lifestyle or values then it can demotivate you.
  • Mental illness issues – for example, dysthymia, which is a low-grade form of depression that leaves the individual able to engage in their day but still provides the classic symptoms of fatigue and lack of motivation.
  • Physical Illness – you might be sick or have some type of physical ailment which is causing your lack of demotivation
  • Self-Sabotage – you’re capable of achievement and are purposely sabotaging yourself and prevent yourself from moving forward.

After you have identified what the problem is, then the solution is normally self-evident. If we look closely at the list then we can see the types of remedies we need to use.

  • Fear – To get motivated, you need to deal with your fear. Start by naming your fears so that they’re out in the open. You need to put them on trial. After you name the fear, write it down to make it concrete, then argue the case for the defence. Ask questions like: What is the chance of that really happening? What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?

  • You’ve got the wrong goals – Have a look at the goals. Are they too large, not well enough defined. Unrealistic? Try to change them into SMART goals. A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal
  • Occupation about the future – First, you need to determine if your worries are actionable. If the worry is solvable, then start brainstorming solutions. If it isn’t then you need to accept the uncertainty.
    You can try these 3 steps to stop yourself from worrying.
    • Create a “worry period.” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
    • Write down your worries. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it and then continue about your day. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now. Also, writing down your thoughts—on a pad or on your phone or computer—is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your worries are more likely to lose their power.

    • Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. If the thoughts you wrote down are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. As you examine your worries in this way, you’ll often find it easier to develop a more balanced perspective. And if your worries don’t seem important any more, simply cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.
  • Fatigue –Many cases of tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. You can try some of these tips to fight the fatigue.
    • A good way to keep up your energy through the day is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks every3 to 4 hours, rather than a large meal less often.
    • Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity
    • If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you’ll feel much more energetic.
    • Tips for sleeping well include:
      • going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day
      • avoiding naps in the day
      • taking time to relax before you go to bed
    • Stress uses up a lot of energy. Try to introduce relaxing activities into your day.
    • cut out caffeine
    • Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy.
    • Sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise.


  • Being overwhelmed – It’s probably the most common mistake that people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once. You cannot maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely.
  • Procrastination –
    • Procrastination is less about avoiding a task than avoiding the negative emotions associated with that task.
    • Procrastination is rooted not in laziness, but in perfectionism, anxiety, or fear of failure.
    • Building momentum by tackling smaller tasks first can help to rebuild confidence to meet larger goals.
  • Impatience and Lack of progress – These often go hand in hand. This is a frequent problem for language learners who reach the dreaded intermediate plateau and don’t seem to be progressing. But if you evaluate your skills and knowledge realistically you will see that you have made progress even if it has only been a little. You need to manage your expectations as well to make sure you’ve got realistic goals.
  • Lack of flexibility – Change up what you are doing. Study something else for a little while. Take a break, find a different way or place to study.
  • Conflict –You need to unpack your values conflict and play mediator. You have to get the parts of you that are advocating for different values to play on the same team again. Start with acknowledging the internal conflict.
    Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle so that you have two columns. Write about the two different directions you feel pulled in, one in each column, and summarize it with a statement of what each part wants.

    Now, pick one column and chunk it up: “Why does this part want that? What does it hope to get as a result of having that?” Keep asking the questions and writing your answers until you feel that you’ve hit on the result that this part of you ultimately wants. Now do the same for the other part, and notice when you get to the level where the answers in the two columns are the same.
  • For both Mental illness issues and Physical Illness it is best to consult a health professional
  • Self-Sabotage – For many of us, our self-sabotage behaviours and beliefs are rooted in our feelings of self-worth. Figuring out what is causing you to self-sabotage will help you to focus on the specific changes to stop these behaviours.

    Fear tends to be the main cause of what holds us back. We fear that our inner critic is right; we believe that we don’t deserve happiness, aren’t tough or bright enough, or we just don’t have it in us to be a success in life. These thoughts and self-limiting beliefs are not helpful, and your negative dialogue needs to become a very slight whisper that you can hardly hear. So the section on overcoming fear is useful to listen to again.

That is all for this week, a very short episode. I will be looking at my own demotivators and give up dates on my YouTube channel. I hope this episode has been of some help to you in overcoming demotivation if you encounter it.

If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to comment on the website, autodidactic.info or on the YouTube channel. I try to respond as quickly as I can. You can also email me at rick@autodidactic.info .

I will put a link to the YouTube channel in the show’s transcription and show notes on the website.

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