The Myth of Motivation


It is about 6 a.m. on a Saturday, and I don't feel like writing this blog post.

I have a goal of producing weekly content, however, so I scheduled a time to write before the house wakes up (five wide awake children on a Saturday morning can serve as a distraction). I'd rather be sleeping, reading, making pancakes, just about anything, but instead I sit here spilling words onto a blank page and hoping they will land for someone.

Later today I will go to yoga, and I will most likely mentally complain as I make my way to my mat. I practice Bikram Yoga, so it is hot. Damned hot. Unreasonably hot, and I mostly hate being there until I don't. And I do this regularly.

Very often, I am not only filled with resistance when it comes to the very things I want to do in my life, I am downright unmotivated. But, that doesn't stop me.

Resistance does not stop me. Lack of motivation doesn't stop me. Why?

Well, I discovered a long time ago that motivation is overrated and believing that it is more important than it is can, ironically, be the thing that keeps us from reaching your goals. That's right. Believing in the myth of motivation will derail you.

When I work with clients that have specific goals to reach, they often come in talking about Motivation, or lack thereof.

"I want to exercise, but I haven't found a program I love and keeps me going."

"I want to finish my dissertation/write that book/start a business, but I wake up in the morning and can't get going. I'm just not motivated enough."

"I want to meet the man/woman of my dreams, but it's easier staying home."

The common myth that people are falling for is the idea that you will only reach your goals if you find the right motivation to do so. This thinking includes the idea that there is a motivation that will be bigger and stronger than whatever resistance your brain and body can come up with.

But, resistance doesn't have to stop us, laziness doesn't have to stop us, discomfort, inconvenience, fear, exhaustion, weakness, even sickness doesn't have to stop us. You don't need to be motivated. You just have to decide.

You Get to Keep Your Resistances and Lack of Motivation

When clients say they are want to achieve a goal but they are afraid, tired, inconvenienced, whatever, my answer always is, "That's okay. You can keep that resistance and still get what you want."

That's right, you can be afraid and still ask for the raise. You can hate going to the gym and still make it there daily. You can even feel lazy, and still take the steps necessary to start that business you always wanted. If you are looking and waiting to be motivated, fearless, energetic or inspired, then you are setting yourself up for failure. You get to keep your resistances; you just don't get to take them seriously.

Yes, cake tastes better than salad. Staying into sleep is more comfortable than getting up in the cold to type out this post. And I honestly rather sit at home and watch reruns of Mad Men than lock myself in a hot yoga room for 90 minutes, but I've decided that health is more important than my need for motivation. And so there is no choice. I don't even need to think about it. But, here's the secret -- every goal is more important than the need for motivation to accomplish it.

Want to get things done? The good news is you don't really need motivation at all. You just need to take action. And you can be resistance to that action -- you just need to keep moving forward despite it.

Resistances only have power when we take them seriously and act on them or worse yet, use them as reasons why we don't act at all.

"I'm afraid, so I won't take action." "I'm tired, and that means I can't don't the work." "I feel like sleeping in, so I won't make it to the gym."

As opposed to,

"I'm afraid, but I will move forward anyway." "I want to catch up on sleep, but I can take a nap after the gym." "I don't want to, but decided, so it's not an option to quit."

You get to hold onto your resistances. You get to be unmotivated.

If you want to get things done and reach goals, the number one predictor of success will simply be action. Are you ready to take action? If the answer is a resounding, "yes," then get moving. Don't even think about it, just decide.


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