What's most likely to kill your motivation for the day/month/year?

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It happens to all of us: we're happily working when bam, something happens. It need not really be bad, in odd cases it can be good, but in anycase it's just eliminated your motivation to keep working. Sometimes for a short while, sometimes a long while.

What is it that makes you lose your motivation for a day, a week or month, or perhaps forever?

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I thought things going running smoothly but then I notice an issue.

I'm still motivated, it's all a part of the process.

But then I start tugging at the string and realize it's a MUCH BIGGER ISSUE and I essentially have a mountain to climb before this is going to be resolved. What looked like a productive week of conquering new frontiers now looks like a painful slog just to get things up to a working state I previously thought they were already in.

This is a moment of serious demotivation. A sudden change in outlook that looks much grimmer than before.

But then you go to work and usually learn a lot along the way. We can factor these things in all we want but it can still be incredibly demotivating in the moment.


I feel stressed just reading that. Such a painfully accurate description.


Yes, it's amazing how sneaky mountains can hide in code. :)

I've had several of those over the past few months. What should be a small change becomes a daunting challenge.


When I said old, I'm talking about struts 1, struts 2, EJB 2.1, etc.
Work for an insurance company have this bad side: the client's architects have no courage to evolve


A few of my demotivators from 2017...

A Lumburgh-ian boss stopping by to ask if I can create a few PowerPoint slides for their presentation that afternoon.

A Lumburgh-ian boss stopping by to ask (aka tell) me to go to an impromptu meeting with an unrelated team while I'm in the middle of a major support issue.

Dealing with toxic team members who say, "Don't touch my code!!!"

Being responsible for teaching offshore developers who are going to replace me.


Apart from physical issues like disease and sleep deprivation:

  • Vague tasks. It's hard to work if you're not sure what the result should be.
  • Being in doubt that the product itself will be useful (e.g. it's at odds with my values)
  • Having to switch between multiple projects often.
  • Always being in a hurry, not having time for refactoring.

I believe the last three are common, though some consultants seem to have no problem with doubtfully useful products.

I find the first point interesting though, in that I actually relish such situations. I enjoy finding workable solutions from vague requirements -- assuming the expectations are also flexible. Having requirements withheld, or understated, is not the same as just being vague.

I think "working with vagueness" should be something that all programmer's learn to deal with. It's more of a confidence issue than technical skill.


Yep, working with vague requirements and having flexible expectations is interesting. I meant those tasks the purpose of which is not clear and it's not even clear sometimes if the business needs them or not. Maybe I have chosen not the best words for my explanation, my English is not perfect :)

Yes, I guess there are certainly level of vagueness. When I encounter such things I just take it as an indication to fill in all the details on my own: figure out what would be good for the company or user.


And how do you do that? Because working with vagueness kills my mood and productivity


My father passed away less than a week ago.

I've had to hard reboot my work laptop three times in the first 45 minutes of work today.

I'm working with very outdated technology.

My work environment has become toxic.

So yeah, I have no idea how I'm producing anything lately.


Sorry to hear that, my condolences.

It's often outside stress that causes one to see the reality of their workplace.


Well, no a long time ago i was in a local hackathon i spend working with my team around 10h continuously, i felt on fire when bam the internet falls down. Then we rest by a very long time , enough for the hackathon finish. But that kind of unexpected moments throw my motivation down, but for a short time luckly :)

Probably the best description for this :



The internet disappearing at inopportune times can often dampen ones spirits. Though usually I can take this in stride, just Alt+Tab over to the browser to waste some time... then suddenly the reality dawns on me!

Usually I end the day at this point and take care of physical world things.


I lost my motivation for the last whole year. The company, which I had worked before for 6 years, was sold and destroyed. I put lots of effort to that job. It was the best one. But now, it's hibernated, the product doesn't work and old customers are angry.

Now I have a problem to get the same motivation in new job as a small voice inside is saying "why the effort, this company can be sold too and the effort will be in vain".


Structural and company focus changes are likely the biggest source of long-term motivation loss.

Watching a product you made be abandoned is a horrible feeling, no matter how often it happens.


hammering the screws instead of using a screwdriver. actually, carving the handle of a hammer so you can use it as a screwdriver is a better analogy. now the hammer is uncomfortable to hold and the screwdriver part easily breaks when you try to actually use it. it's the reason why I browse the internet instead of getting the job done as quick and good as I can


For me right now, Job hunting.

I'm currently looking for a job but its massively confidence destroying. Especially when you get rejected without feedback. If I get feedback it makes me feel better since then I have something to work on.

But its just destroys your mood. I love programming and I love learning. I'm determined not to give up!.


Just as importantly, how can we get it back afterwards?


Office noise primarily on a day-to-day basis. The cumulative effect of little or no feedback (positive or negative) can kill motivation, big time.

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