The Motivation Myth

Are you feeling motivated right now? If you are, great, but that isn’t the point. You hear a lot about the importance of motivation. Everyone from Starbucks to Spotify is trying to sell us motivation. All the personal development ‘experts’ are attempting to tricking us into feeling motivated. I think they’re on the wrong track. Sure, you do your best work when you’re motivated, but because no one can be motivated 100% of the time, you need more if you’re going to succeed in business. You need discipline.

The motivation multiplier

You’re at your most motivated when good things happen, and that spurs you on to better things. When you’ve just closed a deal, or received praise for a piece of work you’ve just written, you feel like you can take on the world. Everything feels like it’s coming easy. What do you do though, when it’s not coming easy?

Sometimes you can force motivation. You can watch a YouTube video of angry men bellowing inspirational quotes at you, or you could listen to music that fires you up. This only works for the short-term, however. When you can’t force motivation, it’s your discipline that keeps you going. It’s easy to metaphorically give yourself the day off, promising yourself you’ll work doubly hard tomorrow. That is not a recipe for success.

Discipline is the difference

Success depends on how you respond when things aren’t going well. Success depends on making call number 4, after calls 1,2 and 3 have slammed the phone down on you. Success depends on making the 3rd revision to a client’s piece of writing with a smile on your face, even though you know the first version was great. Doing things you don’t feel like doing when you don’t feel like doing them. That’s what will make your business grow.

OK, the work you do when you’re feeling demotivated may not be your best. That’s no excuse. Even 50% of your best is better than zero. It’s not all or nothing. Just do something. Show up to work, and good things will happen. You can work yourself back into a state of motivation. This doesn’t just apply to business or even work. You need to apply the same discipline if you want to have success in fitness, or studying, or anything that matters to you. You know where the goal is, just do things that will move you towards that goal.

That’s why I believe that when people talk about motivation, they’re barking up the wrong tree. Anyone can do great work when they’re feeling great. It’s doing great work when you’re feeling bad that separates you from the crowd. I’m working hard to develop the habit of discipline, of making content when I’m not feeling inspired. At the time of writing, I’m 6 months into building my writing business, and I’ve experienced big highs, but also pretty devastating lows. However, if my business doesn’t fly, it won’t be because I didn’t feel like trying.

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