5 Reasons We Give Up (And Ways to Find Motivation!)

Motivation, simply defined, is the purpose behind an action. Contemporary society’s definition of motivation, however, is closely tied to work. In a world as cut-throat as ours, money is a major factor and most of the time our life is shaped around the commodity rather than the other way around.

Of course we go to work for money and the people you meet can be great. But a lot of the time – though we might not quite put a finger on it exactly – we’re also looking for something else from our work: a sense of meaning. – Book of Life

When we talk about our motivation to go to work, school or college, only a few of us can truly say that we feel fulfilled by what we do or learn. The meaning or meaninglessness of what we do is often talking about the potential of our occupation to make a positive difference. Simply put, we want to do things that reduce others’ suffering or that improve the quality of others’ lives.

While there are many reasons we tend to lack motivation, there are equally many (or more) ways that we can lose that motivation as well. In plain terms, there are many reasons why we give up.

5 Reasons We Give Up (And How Not To!)

Reason: Expecting fast results

We live in a society where change is measured by productivity. In itself, it is a double-edged sword. As humans, we have an innate tendency to want to feel like we are making a positive impact on the world. Understandably, we are working for the betterment of the world, yet we sometimes forget that it’s going to take a long time. We are making positive change, just slowly.

If we look on a big scale, it’s obvious that the world changes – and frequently improves. But this is only apparent when the time frame is sufficiently wide.

Patience, then, becomes the virtue that we need to act on the most. Change, especially positive, is accumulated gradually. Momentous changes are often the bi-products of several generations’ committed effort towards a cause.

16 Bad Things Decreasing in the World

The image above just serves as evidence to the point. Take the time to step into the shoes of an aid worker in the 1930s. Change for disaster relief would have seemed bleak. It may have been impossible to feel important in a time where things seemed the worse they ever were. Yet, it would have been the basic refurbishment of a shelter, or the construction of a piping line to disaster-struck areas; thousands of individually relatively minor activities connected together over time gradually added up to momentous transformation. But at the time, it may have seemed like real progress wasn’t being made.

Reason: Stop believing in themselves

Often times, repeated failure prompts us to rethink the value of what we’re trying to achieve and the value of ourselves as well. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the sheer size of the society in which we live and operate. Corporations control the labors of thousands of people based on what encourages more overall productivity, so it becomes difficult to see where we truly fit in.


It seems fiendish, trying to get people to see where they fit into the whole – and hence to feel how their work is meaningful.

What we should do, however, is to learn to see the value in our own work when others fail to do the same. What we must realize is that humans are incredibly ignorant to circumstances that do not directly affect or concern them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your failures, mistakes, and blunders often go unnoticed because it kinda had to be that way: our earliest ancestors would have perished if they cared for much more than their basic and immediate needs. Instead, this realization should power you to go beyond your comfort zone. Do things that you may fail at. It’s the only way to know.

Reason: Get stuck in the past and dwell on mistakes

It’s easy getting stuck on past failures. That’s a survival instinct that did us more good than harm. Failures are artifacts of events and outcomes that didn’t rule in our favor. Most times, these remind us of things that are best avoided. Often, our mistakes are not products of our own inabilities or inadequacies, but rather of the circumstance.

We fell so readily and heedlessly in love with success, we failed to notice the scale of the challenges we had set ourselves. There was nothing ultimately very normal about what we were trying to achieve.

Sometimes we hear so many success stories that we begin to believe that they are the norm, that if others are winning, we will too. Sometimes the circumstance favors failure more than success. This is not to say that failure can’t be turned on its head, it’s just to say that we may find ourselves in situations where failure is more probable.

Reason: Fear failure and see it as a reason to give up

The universal plight is fundamentally a sad one and yet we insist on feeling privately ashamed of what ought to be one of the most basic publically-recognised truths about the human condition: that we fail.

A lot of us are paralyzed by the thought of failing. We begin to feel sorry for ourselves and sometimes assume our problems are unique. Self-sabotage then becomes our primary enemy. We tend to procrastinate, delay goals and feel excessively anxious about our work.

Related: How to Deal With Challenges and Failure


As a result, we tend to lean towards things we know will certainly turn out in our favor. We become perfectionists, of sorts, and this keeps us within our comfort zone.

Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit. – Les Brown

Reason: Feel entitled

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for failure is our tendency to sometimes feel entitled to the things that we have.

Life doesn’t owe you anything. It doesn’t owe you perfect or even good parents. It doesn’t owe you health, happiness, abundance, success, comfort, or immunity from pain and problems. It doesn’t owe you a job, a house, a bed, or a single meal. No one owes you kindness, love, recognition, empathy, apologies, or understanding. You aren’t entitled to a single thing. Your family owes you nothing. Your government owes you nothing. No one owes you anything at all. Ouch, right? I know, it stings. So do something about it. You have to earn your way through life. Push the boundaries. If you don’t like something FIX IT. Don’t complain about it and sit there expecting for the world to fix your problems. The world owes you nothing, it was here first. – Imgur User

Perhaps our entitlement sprung from a privileged childhood. Maybe you got straight A’s in school, or you were more attractive than others, or even if you were more popular than other people your age.

Simply put, maybe you had a privilege that was afforded to you from a very young age that you didn’t have to work for. It’s possible that you didn’t even know or acknowledge this.  You may have gotten fantastic grades without even knowing how you managed it without studying!

It’s possible that down the line, you may have taken the leap of faith and assumed that things would continue to be that way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. The only way to attain greatness in anything is to work for it.

The lesson is that your ego can become your worst enemy if you let it. To truly achieve something, you need to put aside your ego. You must realize that you are human, we must accept, that we would, of course, eventually fail at some point in our lives. Everyone does. We must accept this because we are – in the end – human and we know this dark but deeply cheering fact about everyone who has ever lived.

Related: Why hard work beats talent


There is no solution or cure to the phenomenon that is failure. It happens to all of us, to the best of us. It is a humbling truth that we must learn to accept if we are to be happy. We must know that sometimes we may fail, but there will always be more room to grow.

We came into this world empty-handed and we shall leave it the same; so why be consumed by the fear of something that is certain? There is no reason to not enjoy our existence for the time that we are here.

As always, thanks for reading!

Further Reading

On Meaning – and Motivation

The Entitlement Trap


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