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Those who’ve experienced severe lack of motivation in your mid 20s, how did you overcome?

I’m a 24(M) and lately, everything seems pointless. Best way I can describe it is a total lack of motivation for almost anything. I don’t mean in a suicidal way but everything just seems so bleak and I feel like I’ll never be able to accomplish anything. For background, I work in the mental health field which can be pretty overwhelming at times, and going to school for the same thing (also overwhelming). Lately I’ve felt like I can’t accomplish anything or due dates keep getting away from me now that I’m towards the end of my grad program where requirements seemed to have kicked up but structure is way down. I’m constantly concerned that I won’t ever “make it” and that I’ll never be able to accomplish enough to afford a house or a family. I’m sure the answer is to see a therapist or to have better/healthier life choices, but I was wondering if anyone else has felt something similar. TIA 🙂

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28 Comments

  1. I refer to this as a the quarter-life crisis. For the first time in your life there is no clear plan and what to do how to act or where to be, you look around and all your friends are at different stages of their lives and it is very easy to compare yourself and wonder where you went wrong also the reality ( at least for me) of a mundane existence starts to sink in ” Guess I’m not o going to be a rockstar after all ” and you will start to question ” is this really it?”. Quarter-life crisis happens to a lot of people, myself included, I was super depressed working this god awful boring corporate gig basically going nowhere with my life. I ended up quitting my job and working with kids with special needs to figure out my life and gain some perspective, eventually, my relationship with my girlfriend ended and I decided if I was just going wait around till I died or killed myself I might as well do it with a change of scenery, thus I moved to the other side of the world and what do you know with doing this and essentially taking a break from the world by embracing it I discovered a new lease on life, I started living in Europe, got a way more interesting job and in general just life was more interesting and exciting, it has been 4 years and the magic still hasn’t worn off.

    I’m not saying you need to move to the other side of the world but use the quarter-life crisis phase to reinvent yourself like you would if you change high school or sumshit, this is an opportunity to decide what you want out of life instead of being a slave to the social norm, the reason you feel unmotivated is because the shit you’re doing in your life is not motivating to you and it won’t get better unless you change something so your choices are to be miserable or change something, anything and if it still sucks change something else. It may take a while but as long as you enjoy the journey you will find your way.

    Edit: wow I got an award for this?! Thank you kind stranger, because of the award I decided to fix up some of the spelling mistakes as to try as give as much credit to this advice as possible as I truly believe in it in my heart of heart.

  2. You’re describing a super-common issue in our western society. You live under the pressures of the “white-picket-fence big two story house with a wife and three kids” dream which is becoming harder and harder to achieve for your average person. You’re working your ass off whilst at the same time educating yourself to hopefully fit the mold one day, when you can “make it”.

    The reason life seems more and more pointless and you’re losing motivation is because you’re becoming disillusioned. There is no “making it”. You’re living life currently. It’s not starting as soon as your education is done, it’s now. Constantly.

    If you’re already feeling like shit over what you’re doing, you’ll probably keep feeling like shit doing it, education or no. Promotion or no. As a mental health worker, you’re doing society a huge favour, and you deserve so much respect, but at the end of the day, if you’re not fulfilled doing it and it feels pointless, maybe rethink your options.

    If you’re at the end of your grad program, I would probably play it safe myself and just finish it, and honestly, your field is known to be fucking stressful, and maybe you’re just bound to feel like shit until it’s done. If you’re american, you’ve probably already spent a shit ton of cash on your education, and I feel bad for you.

    But too many people try to live life as “meta-builds”, where we want to fit in as society expects us. You’ll never be happy and fulfilled if you overthink too much. All the stuff I really care about in life has come to me when I stopped looking for them. Some of the most fulfilled people I’ve met have “non-serious careers”. If you feel like your idea of the current modern world isn’t for you, it probably isn’t.

  3. I am 23(m) in flight school and I feel the exact same way. Plus I have crippling debt. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it but I just keep telling myself if I try hard enough, make smart choices, and keep healthy habits my sacrifices will pay off. This feeling has made my relationship rocky and quite honestly my life unenjoyable 85% of the time. It’s not like I can’t ever have fun, it’s more so there are consequences to having fun (spending money, hanging with the wrong crowd, etc) I think the pandemic is just making it especially hard to have any fun. Everyday seems like we’re hearing another way how the world is doomed. I don’t have an answer but I hope if we just push through this together we will one day look back at our struggles and realize that these are the defining moments that made us who we are. I can’t tell you it will get better, but I can tell you we will get stronger wether we know it or not.

  4. Who said I overcame it? I stopped giving a shit at 25 I am now 27.

    The way I still can wake up and do the shit that needs to be done? Responsibility.

    I owe my children a good future, I won’t hit it big, but maybe I will maybe make the life of my children with as much possibilities as possible.

    I am responsible to make my foundation as solid as possible to make the biggest fucking tower on it, it includes to finish this last semester, it includes to start working early in my studies to gather experience (luckily I enjoy the work) as well as being as healthy as possible to pass on a decent form(trying at least)

    If motivation is lacking, discipline is the other path that has its own benefits, imagine a game skill tree? The goal is the same, you progress through life, but the path is different

  5. Honestly, my friends helped me a lot. I didn’t even get to the grad school part. Finished my psych Bachelor’s, but no longer had motivation for the field and didn’t prep for grad school at all. Instead I got my nursing prerequisites and procrastinated on that for like 2 and a half years. :/ I think what did it for me was that I have good/successful friends my age. One day I looked around and realized that I was in a weird limbo, while they were progressing positively through life. It made me panic and get my ass in gear, because, peer pressure. And I really value my friends and I want to always be worthy of their friendship? It sounds bad, but I am more easily motivated by other people and I didn’t want them to leave me behind. Even then it was really rough, but my friends gave me a lot of positive reinforcement whenever I faltered they’d provide harsh truths and endless positive reinforcement.

    So I guess, surround yourself with the people you want to be like and stop making excuses for yourself to not do things.

  6. You become 30 and realised all you were was lazy as fuck. Get off your ass and do shit. Force yourself if you have to, because you’ll get to 30 and realised that you fucked up. No real career prospects and very little money in the bank. Every day then becomes an actual struggle.

    Force yourself to get off your ass and do the shit that needs to be done.

    If the mental health field is too overwhelming and you can’t see yourself doing it long term. Finish your degree and then get out of it.

  7. To be completely honest, I just stopped caring about having a house or a family.

    Seriously. I tried to look at my situation objectively, and came to the conclusion that if I wanted those I would be striving my entire life. If I decided I didn’t want them, there would still be plenty of work involved, but overall things would be infinitely more chill.

    Obviously, you can’t really decide to not want those things. It’s kind of a product of your disposition and upbringing, but for basically every young person these days. Those are your options, have a family and lifelong money problems or have less intense lifelong money problems that are made much simpler without the need to provide for dependents who will probably have even fewer options when they get to be your age.

  8. I realized towards 25 or so that the class divide was only going to widen and people who owned things that generated wealth would get much wealthier while laborers got screwed. I spent the next five or six years working my ass off to put myself in that category because I believed very strongly that it was my only option to keep living the life I wanted to live.

  9. I’m also a student close to grad and waves of de-motivation do happen, sometimes some episodes are longer worse than before. My best suggestion is to just ride it out and always keep doing what needs to be done. Don’t strive for constant motivation because that tires out. Instead build discipline so that you can keep at it everyday. And it might be naive of me, but it helps to have an idea of what you care for in life–is it career, financial success, time with family, maybe hobbies–and focus on that. I feel that it helps me feel less like a wheel in the cog machine and more like someone who has control on my life and currently grinding to achieve or maintain my goals.

  10. I’m pretty much the same age and I could relate to this. About a year back I was exactly where you are right now. I was about to graduate, didn’t have a job lined up and saw all my peers doing great in class and seemed to have their lives figured out. I was going through what felt like a quarter life crisis at that moment.

    The first thing that I did was realising that it can’t get any worse than this and the fact that I didn’t want this for my life. It took a lot of courage to discard everything I had planned for myself. I started taking baby steps to find new hobbies and skills that would interest me. I made a lot of good friends and started saying yes to pretty much every chance I had to go out.

    Got myself into a structure, I willingly chose to sign myself up for activities and projects in college. This way, I was held accountable and knew I had to get the job done anyway. I started planning my nexy day before going to sleep, a to-do list helped me a lot and it’s a habit I still follow till date. I applied for internships, and was willing to learn anything at that point. Within a matter of time things started to change for me.

    Eventually I ended up picking art (I was studying mechanical engineering), transitioned to graphic design and from there into ux , which I currently work full time as a freelance designer. I’m not at the point where everything I’m my life is exactly where I want it to be but rrgardless, I wake up everyday with a positive outlook towards life and I enjoy what I do.

    If you’re an American, I’m assuming you’ve paid a lot for your education and have some debt that needs to be paid off. Your best bet is to take a couple of days off and do something you enjoyed doing before. List down your upcoming deadlines and be done with your graduation. Slowly start working on yourself, working out really helps. Get rid of any addictions and replace them with something constructive.

  11. I (27M) went through the same feelings of lack of direction and motivation to get out of bed.

    At 26 I had been working for a large company with a good job for 8 years. But I had an overwhelming feeling of emptiness and a crushing feeling every morning before work.

    After alot of thinking I figured out that my job was making me feel miserable, I made my plans, assessed my situation and quit my job. I took a month off and just did whatever I wanted, cooking, hiking, reading etc. I felt so much better and my life seemed to find colour again.

    I managed to find a new job with less stress and have enrolled to study engineering, I still don’t know exactly what direction in life I want to go but giving myself time and space to think and try formulate what I want to do has really helped my motivation and happiness.

    This may mean I give up things in the short term but It’s not about reaching your goal faster but also enjoying the process.

  12. Same boat here. I’m 22 and studying to be an English teacher. I had to quit my part time job because I wouldn’t be able to keep up wit the studying otherwise. Since the whole Corona mess is still going on that was nearly the only social interaction I had every week. Now all I do is study and play games when I have an hour or two to spare and the only time I get out of the house is to buy cigarettes or for my internship. I was really depressed for 3 years and finally felt better when I started school last year. Now however I just hope I can keep up with my schoolwork and it’s stressing me out. Besides that, I don’t know if I’m cut out to be a teacher but if not this I don’t know what else to do. What helped me to clear my mind and take a break was longboarding, but since the weather has been shite over the last three weeks I haven’t been able to do even that. I don’t know man, it all just feels kinda pointless and fucked up at the moment.
    Anyway, have some silver. I’ll get back to my assignments and hope we’ll get on the right track eventually.

  13. I’m not sure if I’d specifically call it low motivation. For me it was more a form of burnout but I got to a point when I was something like 26 or 27 where it all felt unsustainable. I quit my job/career of 6 years and moved to Scotland and then Germany with no real plan. After a few years of living life I eventually went back to my original career and finished the training for it. I think I just needed to live a bit more first and spread my wings so to speak. I think I evolved/grew up as a person in some way and those years are some of the best of my life.

  14. Honestly there’s already so many incredible answers here so all I’m going to add is that I’m a 31 year old man who is just on the other side of the very same crisis, and I’m feeling pretty happy now. So if you still feel like you need help after this post, I’d like to offer to answer any questions you have or talk things through with you, either here or in a PM.

    But tldr you’re exactly where you should be, you’re doing great – just keep it going

  15. Automate everything you can. Make a list every week of shit you need to do. If the big shit is too overwhelming, start by banging out the smaller tasks. Have a regular cleaning schedule for your space and organize stuff. Stop drugs/alcohol if you’re overusing.

    You might need meds to fix or bandaid mental health issues (see a professional). The biggest change for me came from becoming militant about a good sleep schedule and exercise. If you don’t maintain your personal health first, everything else will fall apart. I had zero energy after finishing grad school at 25 and was spiraling in every category of health.

    Also, if you’re burned out now, having a family and house to maintain will make you suicidal. I felt like shit in my mid twenties, but looking back, I had way more time and fewer responsibilities.

  16. I tried twice to write up some thoughtful post with what I did, what advice to give you, the way we assign worth to people, but came short… Here’s the 2 things I can tell you that I think is worthwhile advice:

    1. Life and existence are pointless and meaningless. Be happy with it. Disclaimer: you can still have shit days and periods and tragefies happen to you through no fault of you own.

    2. Ancient Greek tragedies usually hinge on the concept that people in them go to the extremes and end up in some “tragedy” and being unhappy. Don’t bother with the extremes in order to assign value to yourself as an individual. In the end it won’t matter.

  17. Eh, therapy is a very expensive way of having a bunch of pills thrust upon you by pharmaceuticals because therapists really only exist as pill dispensers these days.

    A lack of motivation isn’t exactly something to be overly concerned about; it’s a reflection of the sad state of affairs Western Anglophone society finds itself in and, if anything, is a recognition that continued participation within that system is fruitless.

    Rather than think “I need to be motivated otherwise people will think I am a failure”, ask yourself “what can I do to advocate for change?”

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