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Motivation For Young Adults – How to Keep Going When Nothing Seems Right

The life of a young person can be difficult at times. They are constantly faced with choices, and they have to make the right ones in order for things to turn out well. It gets extremely overwhelming because you want everything to go perfect but you stress yourself out with things out of your control. As a result, finding motivation for young adults becomes hard to find, especially when nothing seem to fall into place the way you want it to.

I know this all too well because of my own experiences: college costs rising and tuition making an already hefty expense even harder on families; jobs being scarce but require more competitive skills than ever before just to get hired or considered by employers; debt mounting from credit cards, student loans, car payments… the list goes on!

And yet despite these challenges today’s youth face every day (we’re still optimistic about tomorrow!), there is always hope if you want it badly enough. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not overwhelmingly hard to find the motivation to keep going. It is difficult when we face so much pressure in our daily lives.

What is Motivation?

Why is motivation so important? Studies have shown that it can make or break a person’s performance.

Motivation is the drive that pushes humans to perform certain behaviors, such as pursuing a goal.

Motivation has the power to control our actions and drive us towards success. It can be thought of as fuel for our minds and bodies – without it, we would just stagnate in place. We find motivation from different sources, including external factors (e.g., rewards) or internal ones which are often related to personality traits or values (if you value hard work, then this may motivate your behavior).

Why are Young Adults so Unmotivated Today? 

Social Media 

Young people today are living in a society that is glorifying the idea of being young and successful. They feel as though they have achieved nothing, even when it’s just been their first year out of school with no job experience or opportunities to show for themselves at all!

Social media can be such an unfair burden on these kids who might see others’ lives so perfectly through posts but never realize how much effort has actually gone into making them look like that person they are envying. Simply put- social media does nothing good and only takes away motivation from those whose life isn’t already predetermined by this outlet.


I know I’m not alone in this, but when you’re a high school senior, the college application process can feel impossible. There are so many extras that colleges want us to have on our applications and then they change their minds about what is “important.” It’s really frustrating how hard it is. You feel like you just don’t seem to be able to fill out an application perfectly. 

In today’s culture, where there seems more pressure than ever before placed on students, especially those going into higher education—preparing for entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT; applying early decision if possible; volunteering at community organizations which show leadership skills (not necessarily working with kids); taking part in extracurricular activities, including sports. 

On top of that, your academics have to be perfect. You need to be making sure you’re taking the right APs and honors classes to be considered a competitive applicant. 

It doesn’t stop there. 

Getting a college degree used to mean that you were guaranteed stability. Now, with the rising costs of tuition and fees coupled by fewer jobs available post graduation, this is no longer true for many students who struggle financially because they can’t find work after their schooling ends. 

Unlike previous generations, where having a stable life meant getting your college degree (even if it cost you everything), now there are more risks than benefits when going into debt just so someone could have an opportunity at being successful in today’s society.

It’s hard to increase motivation for young adults because they can try their hardest in school and know it won’t mean anything if you don’t have your work experience mixed in. 


When you graduate, it’s hard to find a job that pays well. Entry-level positions require years of experience and the pay is terrible because employers are expecting new graduates to have all these skills we never learned in school while paying us nothing extra for them.

It seems like even though every employer is looking for people who have graduated from college, there aren’t any available opportunities because most them want someone with seasoned experience.

Often this means that the student established 3-4 internships while they were in school to secure a job where many of them were unpaid. A disadvantage many students (especially first generation) can’t compete with, especially while trying to manage a full-time school schedule. 

When I was a student at UCLA, I saw MANY unpaid internships requiring more than 20 hours of work a WEEK. How crazy is that? I was already a full-time student, plus had a job. How was I supposed to add 20 hours of unpaid work to my schedule? 

I wish that was the end of it. Most of these entry level-jobs require 60-70 hour work weeks with absolutely no work/life balance. This makes it even harder for a young person to stay motivated, because they can’t escape the cycle of figuring out their life while maintaining a roof over their head. 

People should get degrees so they can learn how things work behind the scenes, then go off on their own creations rather than being exploited by companies like Goldman Sachs or Wells Fargo who care about profits over quality of life (and sanity).

Here’s some ways young adults can find motivation to keep going. 

Look for new opportunities

Think about it. If You’re unhappy with your life and feel unmotivated, look somewhere else. You’d be surprised and end up exactly where you need to be. When one door closes, another opens, so keep an eye out for opportunities that may be outside of what you’d usually go for and who knows?

It’s possible it could change everything. The key, however, is to always look because if not, you’ll be stuck in the same place you’re at. 

Even if you think you may not like it, it’s okay because now you know what it’s like and move on to something that interests you more. 


Seeing new places is one of the best ways to find motivation when you’re a young adult. A fresh environment and new experiences will open your eyes to an endless world of possibilities, which can motivate not only yourself but also inspire others around you.

I have always been a person who has wanted to travel and see new places. I love the feeling of being able to explore an unfamiliar place with no expectations or judgement. It really opens your eyes in so many ways. 

‘Trying’ is not something that will ever stop for me because traveling can give you such hope as well as motivating young adults everywhere!

Take a Gap Year

You know what they say, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” If you’re in your teens or twenties and not sure about the path that life has thrown at you, I urge you to take some extra time for yourself before making any drastic decisions. 

One idea is taking a gap year after high school (or college). A break from academia will give room for reflection on personal goals and their alignment with external means of validation like money or status – as well as giving mental space for creative endeavors outside one’s comfort zone.

From personal experience, taking a gap year was the best decision I could’ve ever made. It helped me understand myself in so many ways, and I felt ready to tackle college once I was really to go back. You’ll understand yourself more and what you want out of your life, career and goals for your future. 

Self Care

There are many reasons why you may want to establish a self care routine. One reason is the simple fact that it will fill your life with healthier activities, which can help motivate you in other areas of your life, such as school or work.

One way to take responsibility for yourself and have more control over what happens next, especially if things haven’t been going well so far in college or your life in general, would be by establishing a self-care routine.

Self-care routines not only allow us time off from our hectic schedules, but they also provide an opportunity for introspection about how we’re feeling on any given day—which helps identify potential sources of motivation too!

If you’re struggling with how to start, I’ve written an entire article on developing a morning yoga routine here that may help to upstart your day. 


You can’t achieve your goals if you don’t believe in yourself. The more you believe, the better your confidence will be, and this will make you feel unstoppable!

Believing in oneself can really change one’s life with just a small amount of extra effort on their part. When you have that fire inside of you burning brighter than ever before, it becomes easier for others around us to see our true potential as well; all because they are able to pick up on those bold vibes we’re giving off like crazy from down deep within ourselves, where no doubts or negative thoughts could reach them.

Tips on Motivation For Young Adults 

If you’re looking for ways to motivate a young adult, here are some things that might work. It can be hard because it’s up to the individual about what they want and need.

Motivating someone is not easy, which makes parents or friends frustrated when trying their best, only to have them ignore everything said of advice given with no concern in sight. 

However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions out there! With these tips under your belt, you’ll help a friend/child in need of a mood boost. 

Ask Questions

Have you been saving up for anything lately? What are your goals and ambitions in life?

If we want to motivate young adults, our best bet is probably asking them questions. For example: what have they been working on recently that has motivated or excited them the most? Or, do their passions lie in a certain area of study, like science or artistry (or maybe both)?

Asking these types of pointed questions can help us better understand who this individual really is, while also determining which direction might be appropriate when it comes time to provide support as needed.

Encourage them

To motivate a young adult, you can encourage them and make sure they follow their passions. People oftentimes have doubts about what to do with the rest of their lives at an early age but if we show them that it is okay for there not be one definitive answer as long as someone follows what makes themselves happy then hopefully those uncertainties will lessen or disappear altogether.

 Encourage your child by providing opportunities in life for exploration through work with friends and hobbies outside school, as these will help define what’s truly meaningful during adulthood.

Believe in them

A successful young adult is not born, but rather nurtured. As a parent or teacher to these budding adults, try to inspire them by believing in their potential for greatness and giving constructive feedback on how they can reach greater heights.

As you nurture your children into adulthood, make sure that there are opportunities where they feel safe enough to take risks with new projects so that they may learn from mistakes and success. It’s important for parents/teachers to believe in the power of youth and give insight into what it takes while providing necessary constructive criticism when needed.

Trust Them

Research has shown that a healthy level of trust is necessary for motivating young adults to work harder. This could be because they need the security and support from an authority figure, or it may simply be because of their inherent desire not wanting others in control over them.

It’s important as a parent, teacher, manager – whoever you are with this responsibility – to take advantage of building relationships by trusting your young person enough so that he/she feels comfortable trying new things without fear; provide clear expectations on what success looks like (both short-term goals and long term) while also focusing on how such successes will help him/her achieve his/her career aspirations; lay out consequences should one fail but make sure these consequences don’t risk any emotional harm.

Sometimes they end up learning something new or discovering their limits and strengths along the way with the mistakes they’ve made. 

Talk about Goals 

Talk to a young adult about their goals and the different ways they could go about achieving them. Set up some goal setting activities in order for them to get started on pursuing those big dreams!

Creativity can be a great outlet to help people work through their goals and aspirations. There are many ways that this creativity can manifest, even when it seems like you have nothing left in the tank!

One way is by creating vision boards or goal setting objects which allow one’s mind to wander without limitations (and with more freedom!) than if physical boundaries constrained them such as pen-to-paper drawing.

Bottom Line 

You may feel you should have everything figured out by the time you turn 25.. But that’s not true. It is normal to figure things out as you go along and life can get stressful when we put all of our focus on one goal. 

Most people don’t know what their future holds until it presents itself in front of them, so try your best with living day-by-day and just enjoy yourself while making sure you’re taking care of yourself too! 

I promise you’re doing great.

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