I Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything (and what to do about it….)

We have all experienced those moments when we just don’t feel like doing anything, like not exercising, or not eating right, not being organized, not going out with friends….That’s pretty normal. It happens.

The problem is when we get stuck inside that loop and it can become an endless cycle.

Have you ever gotten stuck like that? Maybe you’re stuck right now, and that’s why you’re reading this article.

Why We Get Stuck (in no particular order)

These are just a few reasons why people get stuck and feel like they have lost all their motivation.


If you have polarized, black and white, all or nothing sort of thinking, you might avoid an activity that you fear you will not do well enough (fail). The idea of failure is terrifying. Who wants to fail? 

No one, that’s who.

The perfection/failure analog produces anxiety, and triggers escape/avoidance tactics that keep you from interacting with the activity. 

Find the middle ground. Identify small, very realistic goals that you can safely accomplish to give yourself the evidence you need to see that you are not failing, and that you do NOT need to be perfect.


If you are struggling with depression, even mild depression, one of the ways it shows up is a lack of motivation to do things. There is a distinct lack of enjoyment in things you used to enjoy (this is called anhedonia). Self-care, exercise, being organized, and going out with friends can become very difficult. You might experience very negative thoughts, self-loathing, and sadness. Your eating and sleeping habits might change to various extremes. 

If you find that you cannot get past these symptoms, you should seek care from a mental health professional. Even if a family doctor (or a psychiatrist) gives you an antidepressant, you still need to deal with the depression with a mental health counselor. A counselor can help you work through issues that are underlying the depression.

Unattached to a Goal

You might not really know what direction you want to take, so you decide not to do anything at all. This can be related to the escape/avoid anxiety because you might be thinking, “If I don’t have it all figured out, then I’m not going to do anything at all.” It’s an all or nothing situation. 

You might feel overwhelmed if you have not narrowed down your goal. It might feel too big and unattainable. 

Think about what you want, not what you don’t want.

For example, rather than focus on how much you don’t feel like filing papers, think about how much you want a nice, clean desk. 

(read my blog post about setting attainable goals!)

Remember the Reward

Whatever the cause (and there are more than what I mentioned here), it takes ACTION to change your circumstances.

The reward comes after the action is performed.

In other words, if you wait until you “feel like it” to take action, you’re going to be waiting around for a long time. 

Accept that you don’t “feel like it”. 

Then do it anyway. 

You won’t feel the energy and spirit of what you’re doing until you start to perform the action. 

If it means that you need to get up and be around people to exercise at the gym or attend a social event, remember how glad they will be to see you. Remember that you mean a lot to them!

Choice, Action, Reward!

Positive, approach behaviors that bring fairly immediate rewards can help you get the wheels turning faster. Cardiovascular exercise is also very good for helping to alleviate symptoms of depression. 

So, know that it’s OK to not feel like doing anything…..do it anyway and you’ll feel the reward of taking action!

by Diana Zilly, MS, MA, LCPC. Diana is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and Educator, and former Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Joliet Junior College.

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