Why motivation is a myth when it comes to kicking goals
Screw motivation. Instead, take responsibility for your career. Your business. Your writing. Your relationships. Your life.
We think if we were more motivated to get up early, go to the gym at least twice a week every week and eat healthily, we’d have more energy, be fitter, slimmer and sexier.
We think if we were more motivated to call those leads regularly, we’d gradually adjust our scripts and push past the rejections. We’d hear what people want rather than push onto people what we want to give them.
We think if we were more motivated to email our mailing lists consistently, we’d remind clients and prospects that we’re around, we care… and we’d get more referrals and repeat work.
If we were just more motivated we could do all that. And more. Couldn’t we? Of course, we could… if we were motivated.
We just need to stay motivated.
But motivation is the a myth. It’s an excuse for not living up to our potential.
“I’m not motivated” can also be expressed as:
- “I don’t feel like it today”
- “I’m tired”
- “I feel crap”
- “I’m too busy”
- “I’ll do it later”
- “They didn’t do this”
- “It was his fault I didn’t get that”
- “The weather was horrible”
Have you used at least one of these lines for why you didn’t follow through?
It’s easy to blame a lack of motivation.
"Motivation ebbs and flows. It’s flaky. Unreliable."
It’s easy to blame work, your boss, your client.
It’s easy to blame the train driver or the weather for not following through.
For not being accountable to yourself.
We’ve all been there, yet what we need to sink in is that motivation ebbs and flows.
It’s flaky and unreliable.
So what can we do differently?
Here are two ways to make your resolutions stick
- Set a resolution that excites you
- Follow through with habits
1. What excites you?
“…abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.”
That’s Tim Ferris in his book the 4-Hour Work Week.
He challenges us to change our perceptions of success. To go against the grain. To automate more so we have the freedom, time, and finances to do more of what excites us.
He reassures us we don’t have to be twenty-something or quit our job for this to happen. We don’t have to be born rich or have a Masters degree.
But maybe you just want to keep working harder and longer.
Many of us are conditioned to accept our reality. We’ve been conditioned to expect that paycheck regularly. We’ve been conditioned to live a secure, stable life, avoid struggle, and work hard for the white picket fences and to keep up with the Joneses.
We don’t challenge ourselves. Why make life harder?
We don’t dare to dream. Who has that luxury?
We keep busy – even if we’re busy doing the wrong things.
If that’s the price you need to pay for a secure, comfortable life, keep doing what you’re doing.
But if you want to spend less time on work, more time with family, more time creating, skiing in Hokkaido, or cruising among the icebergs of Greenland, don’t hold yourself back.
Don’t know what excites you? Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want your life to look like?
- How has being ‘realistic’ kept you from the life you want?
- What would happen if you did the opposite of people around you?
- What would life look like – and would you sacrifice in 5 ,10, or 20 years if you kept going the way you are?
2. Follow through with habits
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” Jim Ryun
People who achieve great things aren’t riding that motivation rainbow all the time.
That’s what we don’t realise when all we see are the outcomes they have chosen for us to see. The media selects what we read and watch. They love a good success story, don’t they?
Yet did you know: J.R.R. Tolkien struggled to finish writing Lord of the Rings. He almost didn’t publish it.
He kept writing. He kept meeting his writing support group, The Inklings every Thursday night. And he finally published, despite imperfections.
Thankfully, we can all enjoy the Lord of the Rings more than 60 years later, largely because of the habits he cultivated.
Walt Disney was fired in 1919 from the Kansas City Star newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.
After a deal broke down, he could barely pay rent and got so desperate he ate dog food. Mickey Mouse was rejected, Pinocchio was shut down during production, and The Three Little Pigs film was rejected.
Still, he kept consistently working to get these films into production. He cultivated a habit of getting up after failures and learning from them. These days, you’d barely find a child in the Western world who hasn’t grown up with these popular stories.
Motivation and daily feelings ebb and flow. Yet the people that make it keep going whether they are motivated or not.
Once I realised this, it changed everything.
A key resolution this year is to focus on mastering a few things rather than spread myself thin being average at anything and everything. Other resolutions include:
- Sleep better: to keep up my energy and passion for work, family, exercise, and life!
- Improve my direct copywriting skills: taking on more commission jobs
- Learn to draw: well enough to swap stock photos with my own drawings
- Master skills to rock climb safely outdoors: gain enough experience to lead a group
And each night, my routine looks like this:
- No eating after 8pm. In bed by 10.30pm.
- Read a classic direct response copywriting book and practice a copywriting technique
- Tie knots, visualize techniques, and review outdoor climbing safety tips (I sleep with a rope beside my bed… shhh!)
I believe consistent habits lead to incremental progress. Sustainable progress.
Whether you have 10 minutes or one hour, the important thing is to cultivate habits for what you really want to achieve in life. And to keep it up, no matter what.
You see, once you realise your purpose in life, what makes you excited about your life, you no longer need motivation.
You just need to shove the thoughts aside and go on auto-pilot. Create habits that force you to follow through without a thought.
What is one resolution you’d like to follow through on this year? I’d love to know.