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Convictions produce motivation to accomplish goals. A laundry list of goals is not motivating in itself. To maximize motivation, you need to know how important something is to you and why it is important. When you are motivated from within like this, the motivation cannot easily be taken from you.
What is apathy and what causes it? Apathy is the opposite of motivation. If apathy is a lack of concern, then motivation is concerned enough to act. The energy required to act is worth the effort because the cause matters to you.
Burnout Saps Motivation
Other concepts related to apathy include depression or burnout. Burnout results from attempting something that is beyond your capacity to achieve, refusing to give up, and ignoring self-care. Burnout does not happen overnight. Take a look at this 12 stages of burnout infographic.
People become burned out when the cause is motivating but the goal or timeframe is unrealistic. For example, wanting to feel better self-worth by working harder is a no-win situation. Working harder cannot permanently build self-worth. It might temporarily feel better, but the feeling will wear off when the achievements slow down.
Imbalance Saps Motivation
Becoming overfocused on superficial pursuits can also drain motivation. The activity can be positive like exercise or negative like alcohol consumption. In extreme use, anything can become unhealthy. Anything that becomes a substitute for connecting with God is unhealthy in the long term. That’s because life becomes imbalanced.
Exercise up to a point provides great benefits, but if pushed to an extreme it becomes harmful. The body wears out. The time is not well spent. Other underutilized activities have untapped potential.
In the case of exercise, the effect is directly physical. In the case of stress (burnout), the effect is indirect, but no less demotivating. Hope thrives on seeing results from the effort spent. If nothing you can do will produce results, the situation is hopeless. Progressing in burnout moves toward increasingly diminished margins of return.
What is conviction? It’s not really any different than faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Faith is conviction. The most important things in life are the spiritual unseen realities. If you have faith in a bridge, you will cross it. If you are fearful you won’t. Having conviction about the strength of a bridge means you are convinced that the bridge will support your weight. Therefore, you can see that faith leads to motivation and motivation to good works. If you fully believe something is true, how can you not act on what you know?
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.James 2:14-17 ESV
So then, what if you are not motivated? What if your life feels directionless? What if you suffer from apathy or depression? Some situations like losing a loved one or losing a job naturally result in grief. While grieving, people are expected to feel motivated. So there is definitely a time to put activity aside and just be. Aside from grief and a physical health problem, there is a good chance that feeling lethargic is a lack of conviction.
Conviction is faith and faith will always point to some action. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when discussing having even a small amount of faith. The smallest amount of pure faith is largely motivating!
Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.Matthew 17:19-20 NLT
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.