How to Conquer Four Challenges in Military Life That Sap Your Motivation

by | May 24, 2023 | Articles, Body

What is motivation? Motivation is defined as the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. Motivation is tricky because it is such a personal thing. Figuring out what motivates you can be challenging. It may vary from task to task or behavior to behavior. Knowing what helps inspire you to finish things or participate in things is an important step in figuring out your motivational incentives.

As military spouses, it can be so challenging to get motivated. We move often, and so many things are uncertain. We get asked to do a lot by our spouses, by the community, by our children’s school and activities, and even by our spouses’ jobs. Overcoming that lack of motivation can be challenging at best. There are also several things presented above that contribute to our lack of motivation. From burnout, lack of control, and decision fatigue to not feeling challenged, I am going to go through each of these and provide some tips to help you find what motivates you.


Burnout, as defined by Psychology Today, is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. 

I remember early on in my life as an Army wife when this hit. My husband was a company commander, and I volunteered for all the things. When he finished that assignment and we moved, I made a promise to myself to take a break from saying yes to volunteering and correct people when they would try to “voluntold” me. I said no to all volunteer work for about a decade after that. I was so burned out. Now, a decade later, I have learned some tricks to keep me motivated. 

  • The first one is to volunteer for something that brings me joy. I volunteer as an Ambassador for Military Wild because being outside makes me happy, and sharing that love of being outside feels amazing. I also love promoting wellness, and this is an easy way to do it. 
  • I have also found a real passion for volunteering at my daughter’s school. I’ve been doing a lot of that this year, and it has been the most fun. 

We can experience burnout in so many areas of our lives as military spouses. 


Some things, like volunteering, we can control. But what about the things we can’t control? 

I’m seriously over moving. But there is not much I can do about this. What I’ve done to help is:

  • Get involved as soon as I can once we move to a new place. 
  • I say yes to the first 10 invites I get for social events. I take the motivation out of that and make it a rule. 
  • It can be hard to say yes to things for a homebody like me. But I know that once I have a few friends, getting motivated to get out gets easier. 
  • I buy the plants and hang the pictures, no matter how long the duty station will last. I do what I can to feel at home. This helps me feel settled, establishes a routine, and invites motivation back into my life. 


Decision fatigue is defined by the American Medical Association as a state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions. 

We make so many decisions every day. We make hard decisions regularly while living this life as military spouses. It can be really easy to try to outsource these decisions by asking for advice from friends, family, and even on social media, especially when we lack the motivation to make them ourselves. This, however, can make decision making even harder. 

  • Having too many ideas or opinions from other people can make us feel overwhelmed and not motivated at all.
  • It can also make us doubt ourselves. 
  • One of the things that helps me most is knowing what we as a family say yes and no to. This can really help with making decisions. 
  • I also think that going with your gut and trusting your instincts can really help get that motivation going again. We have to be better about listening to ourselves because we know ourselves best!


How do you get motivated when you don’t feel challenged? 

This is a hard one. I remember the first time we moved overseas and I couldn’t find a job that would use my education and work background. I felt frustrated and disappointed. I got a job that just helped fill the hours of the day. Instead of being challenged on the job front, I looked for other ways to feel challenged. 

  • I signed up for a half marathon. 
  • We made travel goals. 
  • I made reading goals that had nothing to do with school. 
  • We even made some silly goals like having gelato and wine every day while on a trip. But these little things helped me feel like I was accomplishing something. 


Taking all of this into consideration, here are some tips to help make some of this easier.

  • Have a strong list of your values and your family’s values. 
  • Have a list of things you will always say “yes” and “no” to. 
  • Write down things that motivate you and things that get you really excited.
  • Do prizes motivate you? Do activities motivate you? Knowing these things can really help when motivation is hard to come by. 

Military life presents its own sorts of challenges that can affect our motivation. I hope that these tips help, and know that they can be used in any area or phase of your life, long after your time as a military spouse is over. 


Elizabeth Bosse is a yoga teacher, reiki master and teacher, and writer. As the creator of the blog WellnessWildernessWith Elizabeth she is building a program to take wellness on the move. As a military spouse of 15 years and mother of a young daughter, Elizabeth has had a lot of practice maintaining wellness through changing circumstances, developing her philosophy through 9 moves (5 of which were overseas), 2 deployments, and 1 evacuation. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama and experience in hospice. In her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys running, swimming, reading, practicing and teaching yoga, and traveling.


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