5 Sneaky Mindsets That Kill Motivation

Ultimately, goal achievement is a mental game.

A mindset that encourages positivity and resilience will drive us forward. We will naturally feel more motivated to take the necessary actions and refrain from self-sabotaging behaviors.

Yet, there are subtle, less recognized mindsets that can silently weaken our drive, making the journey toward our goal feel like an overwhelming challenge.

These overlooked mindsets can be deceptively harmful, quietly sabotaging our motivation and impeding our progress toward our goals. Below we discuss some of the common sneaky mindsets and some course-corrections we can make instead.



The Perfectionism Paradox

Striving for excellence is great, but when it morphs into perfectionism, it often becomes debilitating.

When we are being perfectionists, we often delay starting projects due to a fear of not meeting self-imposed high standards.

Then the fear of failure becomes paralyzing, as the possibility of not achieving perfection becomes a deterrent to trying it at all.

An example is the writer who never publishes, constantly revising their work in pursuit of an unattainable ideal, or the artist who hesitates to share their art, fearing criticism.

This mindset stifles creativity and growth, trapping individuals in a cycle of inaction and disappointment.

Perfectionism and procrastination have such a fine line. You say, ‘Well, I want it to be good. I want it to be perfect.’ But what you’re really doing is not doing your work. You’re putting off showing up and being visible because then you’re going to be judged, and it might suck.

jen sincero
Actions To Try Instead:
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down your larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks. This makes it easier to tackle them without feeling overwhelmed by the need for perfection in the bigger picture.
  • Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities: View each mistake not as a failure, but as a valuable lesson. Reflect on what went wrong and how you can improve, which fosters growth and resilience.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Remind yourself that being imperfect is part of being human. Speak to yourself like you would to your mate – with kindness and understanding.
comparison apples and oranges


The Comparison Conundrum

In today’s social media age, where the highlights of others’ lives are constantly on display, falling into the comparison trap is easier than ever.

This constant benchmarking against others’ achievements or lifestyles can lead to a significant drop in motivation and self-esteem.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt

It’s crucial to redirect focus from other people to your own personal growth and progress. Remember, the only fair comparison is with your past self. Striving to be better than you were yesterday is a more sustainable and healthy approach to personal development.

Actions To Try Instead:
  • Limit Exposure to Comparison Triggers: Reduce time spent on social media or environments where you find yourself frequently comparing your life to other people.
  • Celebrate Your Own Achievements: Make a habit of acknowledging and celebrating your own successes, no matter how small, to shift focus back to your personal journey.
  • Practice Gratitude: Regularly practice gratitude by noting things you’re thankful for about your life and achievements, which can shift your perspective from what others have, to what you already possess.
instant gratification


The Instant Gratification Illusion

What do you mean I won’t lose 10 pounds and develop a six-pack in a week?

We live in a world of instant results, from fast food to same-day delivery services. This culture of immediacy often leads to unrealistic expectations of quick success in the areas of life that still require patience and persistence; such as learning new skills or achieving fitness goals.

The key is to cultivate patience and find joy in the gradual journey of improvement. Setting smaller, achievable milestones can help maintain motivation and provide a sense of progress, even when the ultimate goal is still on the horizon.

“Never compromise the things that’ll matter most to you one day because you feel the urge to satisfy yourself today.”
― Frank Sonnenberg

Actions To Try Instead:
  • Set Short-Term Milestones: Break long-term goals into smaller milestones that offer more immediate satisfaction and recognition of progress.
  • Practice Delayed Gratification: Train yourself to wait for bigger rewards by resisting smaller, immediate temptations. This can be practiced in small, everyday choices.
  • Visualize Long-Term Rewards: Regularly spend time visualizing the benefits and rewards of achieving your long-term goals to keep them front and center in your mind.
fixed mindset fallacy


The Fixed Mindset Fallacy

A fixed mindset, the belief that our abilities and intelligence are static and unchangeable, can severely limit personal growth and motivation.

It fosters a fear of challenges and a tendency to avoid difficulties, stunting learning and development.

In contrast, adopting a growth mindset, which embraces challenges as opportunities for growth and values effort as the path to mastery, can dramatically enhance motivation and resilience.

Celebrating effort and persistence, rather than innate talent or quick wins, encourages a more fulfilling and motivated pursuit of goals.

Actions To Try Instead:
  • Embrace Challenges as Opportunities: Instead of avoiding challenges, see them as opportunities to grow and learn. Approach each new challenge with curiosity and an openness to learn.
  • Praise Effort, Not Outcome: Shift the focus from praising outcomes to valuing effort and persistence. Acknowledge your hard work and dedication as successes in their own right.
  • Cultivate a Growth Mindset: Regularly remind yourself that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Engage in activities that challenge you and expand your skills.
all or nothing approach


The ‘All or Nothing’ Approach

“I caved in and ate a cookie, so I blew my diet today. Might as well finish the whole pack and just start again next Monday.”

This mindset is characterized by a binary way of thinking – either you do something perfectly and completely, or not at all.

It’s the enemy of progress, as it disregards the value of small steps and incremental improvement.

For instance, someone might abandon a fitness regime entirely after missing a few workouts, considering the whole effort ruined.

Recognizing that every small step contributes to the larger journey is essential in overcoming this mindset.

Actions To Try Instead:
  • Set Even Smaller Milestones & Celebrate Small Wins: Recognize and celebrate every step forward, no matter how small. This helps build momentum and reinforces the value of incremental progress.
  • Find Balance: Strive for a balanced approach in your goal journey. If you miss a step or make a mistake, instead of giving up, adjust your plan and continue moving forward.
  • Adopt Flexibility: Be open to adjusting your goals and strategies as needed. Flexibility allows you to navigate obstacles without abandoning your overall objectives.

These mindsets, though common, can stealthily undermine our motivation and impede our journey towards our goals.

Being aware of them is the first step towards reclaiming our motivation and continuing on the path towards our goals.

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