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Motivation Deflation & The Impact On Your Self-Worth

By Jennifer Worley, LPC

As time marches on into the 4th week of people participating in complete home living, some new themes are emerging.  This blog entry focuses on the topic of motivation. Specifically, the decrease in motivation and how that impacts an individual's self concept and self worth.  

As covered in a previous blog entry, for some this hard stop to all commitments or social activities outside of the home has been a relief and an unexpected off ramp leading to reduced anxiety.  For others, it has proven to be a challenge to how they experience their self confidence and self worth. The tangled root system at the base of this is made up of motivation and productivity and how those are often intertwined with positive self concept. 

Why is it when there is now more untethered time, people increasingly report not getting projects done or goals met?  Why are some people finding that they are not putting in the effort that they anticipated they would at the dawn of the stay at home restrictions?

While there are many contributing factors, the one that people report with high frequency is that the task doesn’t have a deadline associated with it, therefore no sense of urgency.  The thought of I can do that tomorrow is in fact, a realistic one.  Thus, the identified goal activity gets pushed off.  The consequence of the I will do it tomorrow action is typically described as feeling badly.  When we have previously been accustomed to productivity as a barometer for contributions and contributions as foundational to self concept, it can have a domino-ing effect when the productivity we are accustomed to is dramatically adjusted.  

How does one counteract the inertia to put off the non urgent project while knowing you want to do it and can in fact accomplish it during these days inside?  It's not a terribly satisfying response, but the step is….You do it. If the task is that you want to clean out the pantry, you start. You pull things out, sort, look at expiration dates,throw away and wipe down. The knowledge that having accomplished a task when there is no urgency or deadline is the rewarding and motivating part. 

It seems backwards in that the accomplishment of the task leads to motivation rather than motivation leading to the accomplishment. These are unusual times and what seems clear is the motivation to do a task will not grow by postponing it.

Motivation deflation can be counteracted by doing something today which could legitimately be done tomorrow!  That action then lifts the sense of accomplishment, which can in turn lift motivation for future projects. This helps realign motivation as being out in front of tasks. All the while, these activities are wrapping back into that valve that feeds into positive self concept.  

There is no question that the pace of social distancing has people trying to make sense of what a day’s goals looks like now. Everyone’s home environment looks different based on their life space and situation.  One point to consider as the days home continue is that the motivation in this landscape will grow from having accomplished the task. This is counter to what we may have experienced when our calendars were action packed and there was a wave of productivity and activity to be ridden.  Now, it’s less about the high frequency of activities and more about the intentionality of the action.

be well,



If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Jenn, you can reach her via email: or call our intake line: 608-709-6972.

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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]

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