Before I begin let me first say that if you’re someone who believes motivation is the key to changing your life then I would strongly advise against reading this post.
You won’t find motivation here that’s going to make you feel good, only truth that many may not want to hear.
I understand that most people aren’t looking for actually solutions to change, but just another article/book/seminar to make them feel good that they are attempting change. If that’s you please know I’m not judging. I’ve coached enough people to know it to be true whether we admit it or, as such I’m empathetic. I want to be real with you, even if it hurts, as long as it gets you thinking about what you really need to do, to really make change in your life.
For those who want to make real and lasting change in your life, keep reading.
There are two definitions of Motivation. There’s the actual dictionary definition which stems from the root word ‘motive’ which means having a reason for doing something. For example, “What was her motive/motivation for taking the job?” This is what I typically refer to in my articles as your ‘Why’ or “having an emotionally compelling reason”.
In this post, I’m not talking about that definition.
The definition I’m referring to is the hyped-up definition which seemed to have made its way into the Personal Development space and refuses to leave. I’m talking about the definition which most have subscribed to that gives that warm, feel good feeling. The one that means getting pumped up and energized to go out and achieve your dreams and goals. The one that’s all fluff and no filling. In other words to “Get Motivated!”
Now let me be clear, I’m not against motivation. Motivation isn’t my problem. My problem is the misconception perpetuated that it’s what will get you to change your life. My problem is motivational speakers who continue to promote this misconception all in the name of building personal brand and making money.
I’m not against using your talents to build your brand and making money either. All I’m asking is stop bullshitting people, and let your first priority be helping them, not profiting from them. Do that and the money and brand will follow.
Why Relying on Motivation Doesn’t Help You To Change Your Life
In the last few weeks I seem to have taken on coaching more individuals than I have over the last few years. I like helping people become their best self, and change their lives. It gives me joy doing it. Even more when they start to see the change happening right before their eyes, and becoming a new, and empowered person.
There’s a particular pattern that I seem to notice that’s repeated with every person I work with (literally every person). That pattern is always start off doing what they know they should to make the change, but never sticking with it long enough to see the change. In other words, they’re always motivated to make the change in the beginning, but that motivation often doesn’t last longer than a week.
What’s even more saddening for me is they always express trying again and again to restart and make the change, but it never seems to stick. This has lowered their self-esteem, and creates doubt to attempt future change.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about motivation, and why it doesn’t help you make lasting change:
Motivation Relies on You Feeling Good (Changing Your Life Doesn’t)
The main problem with motivation and making lasting change is that it relies on you feeling good all the time to take action. If you really think about it realistically, how many times have you really felt good to take action to change? Probably not many. However, that’s the main thing that’s required to change in any aspect of your life (consistent action). It’s pushing through and getting it done even when you don’t feel like it.
Right now I’m struggling to get this article out. Typically, it takes me an hour to two hours to write a 1,000-2,000 word article respectively. However, I’ve been trying to write this article for the last 4 hours and not even half way complete. Why? Because right now I don’t feel like it. I’d much rather be laying down in bed on a Sunday, than kicking my brain to focus on the task at hand. I’ve been up since 7am, trying to get this done, to get it out for Monday. It’s a choice for me.
It’s knowing I have the choice to be lazy and not get it done, yet I choose to stick to my commitment of putting out an article every Monday, whether I feel like it or not.
Three people who are consider the absolute greatest at their respective talents in sports, Usain Bolt (running), Serena Williams (tennis), and Muhammad Ali (boxing), have all gone on record in interviews to say that they hate training. Yet, there is no one that trains as hard as they do, to be the best at what they do. It’s because they never rely on being motivated to get up and get the work in.
Life doesn’t care how you feel or if you’re motivated. You have to learn how to take action regardless of how you feel to make changes you want. Motivation doesn’t allow that.
Motivation Doesn’t Last Long
Another problem with motivation is that it’s very short term. Today you wake up and you feel amazing. You’re ready to take on the world and give it your all. You go to bed, and by the following day you feel completely useless to yourself.
A famous Zig Ziglar quote says, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily”. Being motivated every day in theory sounds great, but how many days can you really feel excited and motivated to go out and take action?
Motivation Isn’t Enough to Help You Push Through the Difficult Times
It’s easy to show up and show out, giving it your all when you’re just starting out and motivated. Try doing that when you’ve only had 3 hours sleep, stressed, and nothing is going your way. How about when you’ve failed…again…the 5th time, and your child is driving you crazy. It’s been 3 years and you seem further away from your goal than when you first started. Not to mention you begin to have self-doubts if you can really do this, and if this is really meant to happen for you. Try being motivated then!
If you’ve ever been through a really difficult moment in your life you know the last thing you feel is energized. Really what you feel is mentally and emotionally drained, and you really don’t want to do anything (not even get out of bed). Sure, you can get motivated in a moment, but as I’ve mentioned it won’t last.
It’s next to impossible to be motivated when your entire life is falling apart. Still, if you are serious about making change you have to learn how to push pass those difficult times regardless of feelings.
Motivation Causes Emotional Instability
What do I mean by Emotional Instability? This is when your actions and behaviours are dictated by how you feel. Hence, today you feel good you take action, tomorrow you don’t feel so good you don’t take action. It creates a constant fluctuation of positive and negative emotions, which after a while causes you to feel unbalanced. In this unbalanced state, it’s really difficult to take action with any level of consistency, and as I’ve said many times, consistency is the ingredient to win in life.
You aren’t able to operate at your best, hence it affects your performance, which affects your results.
Motivation Causes You to Be Apathetic to Real Change
The final reason why motivation doesn’t help you make lasting change is because it shifts your focus away from making real change. Also, it creates the illusion that the change isn’t as serious and urgent as you may think.
I’ve seen this one a lot (and it has happened to me a lot). It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking all you need to do is read a book, watch a Youtube video, scroll through a few Facebook and Instagram positivity quotes, attend another seminar, and think that will automatically lead to change. It’s easy to watch or read something and get motivated, actually putting in the work and effort consistently to make change happen isn’t.
The mind likes to focus on things that makes us feel good, and away from things that causes us pain. Indulging in media to get motivated makes us feel good, the work to really change is painful. Therefore, our brain will trick us into thinking that indulging in media to feel motivated is enough. This creates a false sense of security. Even worse we’ll delay changing our situation because we think it isn’t that important (until it’s too late).
Here’s What You Need to Make Lasting Change Without Relying on Motivation
There are two things that are a must to help you make change in your life: Better Habits and Discipline. Both are developed through consistency (again why I stress it so much).
There’s a young lady in her mid 30’s that I started working with recently to help develop better habits and make positive changes in her life. She’s a bit self-conscious, and I can tell it has shattered her self-esteem.
When we first started working together these were her exact words “Every time I start I feel motivated for the first day or two, and then afterwards I lose motivation to continue”. My immediate response to her was, “Forget about motivation, it’s a waste of time”. In that moment there was a dead silence. I could hear a pin drop from miles away. She was caught off-guard because it’s not what she was expecting to hear. It’s not the type of response you would expect someone helping to make change to say.
I knew what she needed wasn’t more motivation, she needed greater discipline, she needed better habits. We began working together and she was happy to report that in her first week of working with me she’s seen more progress than she has in years. She expressed that without the plan I outlined for her, she would have quit by Day 3, and gone back to her bad habits.
Why I am sharing this story? To show that lasting change doesn’t come from motivation.
The question then becomes, “How do you maintain consistency when you don’t feel motivated to work?”
Prepare Before the Feeling of Motivations Has Left
There are certain things I would recommend you do to prepare for the inevitability of when you no longer feel motivated.
- Create your Standard & Expectation– this means what is the standard that you are going to set for yourself that you’ll be unwilling to compromise no matter what happens or how you feel
- Be Clear On Your Why– being clear on why you’re working on your goal and why it’s important to you is crucial, without it, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re putting in the work to change in the first place, and eventually you’ll quit on your goal
- Identify what the Consequence will be– know what will be the consequence if you don’t follow through on your actions, people fail to stay committed to anything in life because the consequence of quitting isn’t painful, hence seen as insignificant
- Identify what will Trigger gets you to take action– a Trigger is anything that stimulates and creates the desire to take a particular action; just think of checking your messages when you hear a notification sound
A Step-By-Step Approach When You No Longer Feel Motivated
Now that you’ve prepared let’s get into the step by step so you can get back into action when motivation fades
- Think back to your Why
- Think of the consequences
Typically, these first two are enough to get you back into action if the Why is emotional enough, and the consequence is painful enough. I wrote an article on that which you can read.
If that doesn’t work (which to be honest sometimes it isn’t enough), then you want to move into the next phase:
- Say out loud your Standard & Expectation affirmation statement you wrote down (the more Emotional Intensity you can include the better)
- Next use the Trigger you came up with
- Next take Action (even if you don’t feel like it)
- Then Celebrate and Congratulate yourself with enthusiasm and excitement
- Finally reaffirm your Standard and Expectation affirmation in third person
For a deeper understanding of how to use this technique to develop greater consistency you can check out a training video where I go through in-depth how to get it done.
The key to remember in executing this technique is consistency. Consistency is key! You have to do it long enough and often enough until your brain is now conditioned to follow through, regardless of feeling.
The Benefits to Using This Approach
- It will help you to push through on the days you aren’t motivated
- It will help you develop the Psychology of Consistency where you train your mind to be consistent regardless of the situation or how you feel
- It will help you develop the Identity of Consistency where your Identity now creates the behaviours you desire, in this case taking action (this is one step above Psychology of Consistency)
- Finally (and most importantly) eventually you will get to the point where taking action in this particular area now becomes a Habit. This means you no longer have to think or force yourself to do it, you no longer have to rely on motivation. It now becomes automatic for you because it is now a part of you.
The most effective strategy to truly see the change you want in your life is to rely on developing Discipline and Better Habits, which is done through consistent action over time.
Motivation is great for starting, but it’s not enough to keep you going and get you to the finish line of achieving your goals, especially through your most difficult and challenging days.
If you’re always relying on motivation to do the things you need to do, to get the things you want in life, you’re going to lose. Make a commitment to no longer lose in your life.
You can do it, I know you can.
To your success my friend!
Know someone who could really use this article to help them change their life? Be a friend and share it with them!
Join The Exclusives
Get access to exclusive and useful content sent directly to your email to help you break through and achieve your goals NOT available on the blog