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Motivation is (mostly) bullshit. On it’s own, motivation doesn’t work.
Yes, it is important to a degree. But it can only take you so far.
Motivation at its very core is simply desire. Desire to do. Of course, desire on some level is required for everything you do. It’s a requirement for simply living day to day.
So sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a quick boost of motivation. The problem lies in only focusing on motivation.
This article shares why you shouldn’t focus on motivation and what you can do instead.
Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Motivation
Motivation is inconsistent
Wouldn’t it be great if we felt the same amount of motivation all the time? Unfortunately, that’s not the case with reality and there will be times when we’re not feeling it, even if we consider ourselves to be driven people or are highly motivated to achieve our goals.
Frankly, it doesn’t last, like the popular quote below shows.
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” ― Zig Ziglar
Motivation is based on many factors
Motivation is unreliable because it’s based on so many factors that we can’t always know for sure. One day, you might be feeling extremely motivated. The next day you want to lay in bed all day for no good reason.
Motivation is often also based on our energy levels which change from time to time, day by day. Some factors may be external like circumstances or events which can often be out of your control.
Motivation is based on emotions and feelings which fluctuate and change quickly and constantly.
It makes you think that you have to be motivated to take action
The problem with relying on and focusing on motivation is that it can have you just waiting for motivation to take action. You may think that if you’re not motivated, then you shouldn’t act on your goals. Having a lack of motivation from time to time is normal and should be expected.
Motivation is limited
Motivation can often rely on willpower. The problem with willpower is that it’s a finite source. It can be used up.
There are better and more reliable ways to get you to take action
As shown above, motivation is not reliable. Fortunately, there are better things you can do instead of worrying about just increasing motivation.
If you take care of other things, motivation will take care of itself.
Here are some things you can do instead of focusing on motivation.
What To Do Instead of Focusing On Motivation
Expect to Not Be Motivated
A big mistake we can make when setting goals is just getting caught up in the fantasy of achieving the goal and neglecting the effort necessary to achieve it.
Expecting ahead of time that we sometimes won’t be motivated can help us better plan and prepare for when we’re not motivated.
Focus on Building Habits
Habits take the decision making out of the process. Once it’s a habit, there’s no need for motivation.
Habits make actions persistent. Even if the action is small, it adds up and compounds in a big way. With habits, you’re not waiting to be motivated. You’re taking action every day on your goals.
Aim for Clarity
Sometimes what looks like a lack of motivation can actually be confusion and a lack of clarity.
Make sure that your tasks and goals are specific and actionable.
When tackling a big goal or project, always look for the next action to take. If you don’t know, commit to figuring it out instead of letting yourself get stuck.
Change Your Identity
When you think of yourself to be a certain type of person, you will act that way because you are that type of person. There’s no question of motivation.
You’re the type of person who takes action. So you take action.
You’re the type of person who gets things done. So you get things done.
Your brain doesn’t like cognitive dissonance which can be created by a gap in your beliefs and actions.
Start practicing being the person you want to become. Show up as them now.
If you’re not sure, start asking yourself questions about the type of person you want to become and how they act and behave.
Start practicing thoughts about yourself as the type of person you want to become and believe that you can become that person.
Channeling a type of identity can be a powerful tool for creating lasting change in your life.
Simplify and Make Smaller or Break It Up
Big tasks, projects, and goals can seem incredibly daunting and keep you from starting and just taking action. So what you can do is simply the task, make it smaller, or break up the task into smaller tasks. Doing this will help make taking action easier for you.
Simplifying and breaking up your task and goals can also lead to quick wins.
Quick wins build motivation as well as confidence to keep you going.
Focus on Getting Started
Going from zero to one can be the hardest. Our brains can sometimes trick us into thinking that something is going to be a lot more discomforting than it actually is.
Once we get started, it’s a lot easier to keep going.
A thing in motion stays in motion.
Do Even When You Don’t Feel Like It
You shouldn’t wait for motivation. Sometimes we tend to put things off because we think we’ll want to later or will be motivated later. We fail to anticipate how we will feel in the future.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to feel like doing something in order to do it. You will actually make yourself feel better by doing something now rather than putting it off for your future self to deal with.
Don’t let your feelings dictate your actions. Let your actions dictate your feelings.
Remember: You can do hard things.
Grow Your Patience
Sometimes when we don’t see results right away, we can easily get discouraged which lowers our motivation.
Impatience is a common problem among procrastinators. They put off taking action, but expect immediate results.
Expect progress to be gradual and slow. Enjoy the process and the journey.
Have urgency with your actions. Have patience with your results.
Implement Forcing Functions
Forcing functions are a way to make your desired action easier. They take out the decision making and, in a way, automate your desired actions and habits.
Example of forcing functions for your goals:
- Hiring a personal trainer
- Automating your finances to automatically transfer a certain amount from your checking account into your savings account every month
- Setting up technological automations to reduce distractions like setting up Airplane Mode to automatically turn on at bedtime
- Setting up reminders
- Having an accountability partner
Strengthen the Relationship with Yourself
Low self-esteem can be a major cause for low motivation. After all, if you don’t believe you can accomplish your goal or do a good job, why would you even want to try at all?
A good way to start strengthening the relationship with yourself is to honor your promises to yourself. If you find you’re not following on your commitments to yourself and breaking your promises, make your commitments and promises smaller.
If you can succeed with small actions, this helps build confidence and self-esteem within yourself.
Take actions that look out for your future self.
Check Your Goals – Make Sure It’s a Good Goal
If you don’t have a good goal, you’re not going to be motivated. Make sure that your goal is actually one that you want, not one that others want for you or one that you think you should have.
Also, like stated above, make sure that your goal is actionable, specific, simplified, and broken up into smaller goals and tasks.
Dig Deep Into What’s Causing Your Lack of Motivation
A lack of motivation can be a symptom.
Maybe it’s time for a change in your life.
Whether that be your job, your habits, or the people around you.
We tend to underestimate how these factors can affect our motivation.
Happiness can have a huge impact on motivation. If you’re not happy, it’s going to be hard to motivate yourself.
Found out what’s causing your lack of motivation. It could be something deeper in your life that requires change.
The biggest mistake you can make with your goals is waiting for motivation. Don’t make that mistake.
Stop wasting your time trying to get motivated and do what works instead.
When you follow the steps above, you won’t need to rely on motivation to reach your goals and get stuff done.
Having the right goals, making a plan, implementing helpful change, and setting up proper habits will set you up for taking action.