I’ve received a question from one of my podcast listeners, “What is your opinion about motivation? Is it helpful or is it just temporary?”
I think it’s definitely helpful. It is temporary but my overall opinion is that the importance of motivation is highly overrated. I think motivation is a trend that is popular right now. But like all trends, it will go away. Now, let me explain why.
Fact versus Fiction Analysis
If you are asking about motivation, most likely, you have some statements floating in your head about the necessity of motivation. Let’s unpack them.
“In order to do hard things, I need to feel motivated.”
Are you doing any hard things on a consistent basis without having to feel motivated? I bet you do.
I bet going to work every day can be hard at times. But you still do it.
I bet dropping off kids at school when it’s raining is hard. But you still do it.
I bet going through university was though at times. You didn’t feel motivated to write that essay or do that presentation in front of the entire class. But you still did it.
If the statement “In order to do hard things I need to feel motivated.” was true, then you would not have done all these hard things. But you did. So this statement is not a fact. Let’s stop treating it like it is.
Is your goal too big?
If you find yourself that the only way to get your goal done is too feel bursts of motivation every single step along the way, your aim is too high.
I have an entire post “Stop having this flawed assumption when setting goals” on this topic. Long story short, we have this assumption when setting goal that every day we’ll get up and be inspired to go and do incredible things. And this assumption screws us over. If we flip this assumption and set goals expecting the opposite of feeling motivated and inspired, then we finally can be consistent in our efforts. Check out that post to see how.
Is it even YOUR goal?
Another reason why you might feel unmotivated is because you are trying to do things that you think you should do. There are a lot of “shoulds” in our lives that are being imposed on us by society, our upbringing, the culture, or the companies we work for.
We often don’t realize that these ideas and goals are being imposed on us. They are not really our ideas. I offer you to check where your goal comes from. It might be the goal that your parents/friends/workplace want you to do. Everybody but you. This goal didn’t really come from a deep inner state of curiosity, desire, or interest.
The lack of motivation can be a sign that the goal you are trying to pursue is not really yours. It’s been imposed on you. Maybe it’s time to let go of this goal.
Motivation is not even the best emotion to go after
Motivation is an emotion. It’s trendy right now. It’s in hot demand. Without a doubt, it feels nice.
However, if we look at consistency and what emotion is more likely to generate consistency in our efforts, it turns out that motivation is not that emotion. When you’re being content, calm, and at peace with yourself and the world, you are much more likely to show up for your goals consistently. Those are the emotions that are like a very nutritious soil for the consistency to grow.
At any given day, I would prefer the emotions of being calm, focused, peaceful than the emotion of motivation. I find that when my mind is calm, I can actually get a lot more things done. I can think deeper into some issues. I can think a few steps ahead. I can be patient.
When I feel motivated, I’m very impatient. Being impatient is detrimental to many types of projects. I also find that I can be short-sighted when I feel super motivated. I can’t see a big picture when I’m impatient and highly motivated. I’m hyper focused on the very next step and lose sight of a bigger picture.
Surely, motivation is a great emotion. However,there are much better emotions out there that you should go after in your productivity journey.
Ask better questions
When we don’t feel motivated, we ask ourselves questions:
- “Why don’t I feel motivated?”
- “What’s wrong with me?”
- “How do I get motivated?”
- “Where is my motivation?”
These are much better questions that you can ask yourself. Here are my favourite:
- “How can I make it easier?”
- “How can I make it more fun?”
- “How can I simplify it?”
- “How can I batch it?”
- “Do I really need to do this?”
- “Can I delegate it to someone?”
- “If I were to hire someone to get it done, how much would it cost me?”
- When you don’t feel motivated, just go and find examples of hard things that you do on a consistent basis. Study those activities. Are their any techniques and hacks you can borrow from the hard things you are already doing to the hard things you want to start doing?
- Ask yourself better questions. How can I make it easier? Do I even need to do it in the first place? Can I delegate it?
- Embrace experimental mindset. Apply the Monthly Method. Commit to a small set of goals for three weeks only. I wrote more about this here and here.
- Check your schedule. Are you overcommited? No wonder you don’t feel motivated. You are just tires.
- Check if your goal is one of the “shoulds” that is being imposed on you by someone else.
- Forget about motivation. There are much better emotions to go after if you want to achieve the goals you set.
- Change your underlying assumption when setting goals.
If you want to try the Monthly Method for goal setting, start with this free PDF guide.
If you prefer an audio format, please consider subscribing to the Monthly Method Podcast.