On motivation – Why it never strikes and what to do instead

Photo credit: Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Do you ever say to yourself: “I am waiting to get motivated before I do x“ or “I just don’t feel motivated right now”

If you’ve ever thought that or are thinking it right now, I hate to break it to you but motivation is not going to strike anytime soon.

In reality, motivation never strikes as such. I mean you might experience a motivation burst for a few minutes, hours, sometimes days but that’s about it. When we think about the things we want to do, most times it is even hard having to think about them. I am sure you felt inspired, even motivated seeing an inspirational quote, hearing a motivational talk or seeing Tony Robbins but if you’re honest with yourself you know that a few hours after or the next day, you completely forgot about it. As a matter of fact, nothing happens without taking action….action towards achieving small successes will keep the momentum going. Because you will get motivated when seeing the results after a few weeks, months, years…that’s a fact. Take for example exercising and healthy eating – you feel good when you notice the results or feel more energised or learning a new language and get excited you can string a sentence together.

Most people hope they will be handed the magic pill that will keep them motivated. Ultimately, it comes down to these two words: Hard work and a lot of commitment towards achieving your goals.

Any person who has achieved success in her or his life, hasn’t done so without a strong work ethic, tonnes of resilience and of course failing big at one thing (or a lot of things) until they became an overnight success. You’ve probably noticed most people who we’d consider a huge success and who look like they are always motivated have had to overcome some type of struggle.

To this extent, the perfect recipe for motivation looks as following:

Overcome a challenge

Work hard so you can achieve small successes

One success leads to another…

….But sometimes you fail/learn

And in the process you become more resilient and…you guessed it… more motivated!

As Jeff Haden puts it in The motivation myth

“The key (to motivation) is to enjoy small, seemingly minor successes—but on a regular basis”

And if you’re wondering how to have the most productive mindset ever, here are some of my favourite tips from the Motivation myth:

Stop making excuses for doing less

“If you want to succeed, you can’t make excuses. Forge ahead. Establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort. Success and achievement are habits, and it’s incredibly easy to instantly create a bad habit by giving in, even just once.Plus, the moment you make an excuse for doing less is the moment you stop the virtuous cycle of motivation in its tracks. Without achievement, there is no motivation. There are just excuses.”

Stop letting disapproval, or even scorn, stand in your way 

Every successful person has faced tremendous criticism and rejection. When you’re doing things differently, you will stand out from the crowd and you will be criticised and even judged. Everyone will have an opinion about how you should do things. Pleasing everyone around you won’t bring you the success and happiness you seek, so if you want to succeed just do you, play by your own rules and work hard to build those habits that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Stop letting fear hold you back 

I believe everyone can relate to this and understand it very well. We’re all afraid of so many things, we’re probably even unaware of how many fears we have deep down. The truth is fear might never completely go away but I would much rather try and fail than live with the regret of not trying. As Jeff Haden puts it, “Anyone hoping to achieve great things gets nervous. Anyone trying to achieve great things gets scared.To succeed, you don’t have to be braver than other people; you just need to find the strength to keep moving forward. Fear is paralysing, but action creates confidence and self-assurance.”

Stop waiting for inspiration 

Inspiration (same as motivation) never actually strikes. 

The english playwright, novelist, and short story writer W. Somerset Maugham used to say 

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” 

When I first came across it, it made me laugh but I also had this “aha moment” – Motivation is fickle and because you’re waiting to get motivated, you’ll end up not achieving your goals. 

Most people wait for the perfect idea, they believe there’s a certain muse that will descend upon them and show them a new way or concept. And they wait and wait and wait…and nothing happens. Occasionally great ideas might come to you but most times creativity is just the result of effort, hard work, trying out an idea and failing and then failing some more, experimenting, iteration of a certain concept etc. If you keep waiting for inspiration you will be left hanging. Instead try doing, taking action, trying out different ideas, until it evolves to an idea is a lot better than the initial one.

Stop turning down the help you need 

“No one knows everything. No one is great at everything. Yet most people soldier on and hope effort will overcome a lack of knowledge or skill. And it does, but only to a point.” (The Motivation Myth) 

Asking for help is a sign of great strength and it’s definitely key to achieving a lot more and learning so much more. The key is to detach from your ego and become extremely coachable. As soon as you’re able to do that, you become pretty unstoppable as you’re willing to find the best answer no matter where it comes from and that in itself it’s pretty powerful.

Stop stopping

This point has to be my favourite, pretty simple and straightforward and yet so powerful

Successful people finish—unless there’s a very, very good reason not to finish, which, of course, there almost never is.