I know, you have goals and you have dreams you want to materialize in life, but too often, you lack motivation. You don’t feel motivated to do the work and to take the necessary action that creates the result you want.
We’ve all been there.
Lack of motivation is one of the biggest reasons people give up on their goals and dreams.
Every one of us wants to succeed in life. And no matter what goals you are pursuing, whether it is to build a multi-million-dollar business, or to become a best-selling author, motivation plays a crucial role in the journey.
But, do you really need motivation to succeed?
Let me share what I think…
The answer is yes, and no.
Yes, you need motivation to succeed because motivation is what gets you started, and it drives you into taking action.
No, because you don’t have to rely on JUST motivation alone to succeed.
That’s right, you can do it even without motivation. You can succeed without motivation.
But how? What are the things that you need if you lack motivation? Here’s the answer…
You Don’t Need Motivation, You Need Self-Discipline
“Discipline is doing it no matter what your emotional state is.”
The trouble with motivation is that motivation comes and goes. There will be times when you feel totally pumped and so motivated that you are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish all your tasks and goals.
But a few days later, after the euphoric feeling is gone, you feel like a slop, and you have no motivation to do anything at all. And you just want to lie on your couch and do nothing.
This is the drawback of motivation. It comes and goes, just like your emotion.
This is why you cannot rely solely on motivation to succeed. You need this – self-discipline.
Think about it, dreaming about living your perfect life is easy. Setting goal is easy. What is difficult is execution.
When people first got the inspiration and they begin setting a goal, they feel ecstatic. They are motivated. But not for long.
The majority will lose their motivation after a couple of days. Some persist longer – for a few weeks. But most will run out of motivation.
And this is when you need another thing to succeed, self-discipline.
Self-discipline allows you to focus on a task or work on a goal with or without motivation.
How to Build Self-Discipline
Self-discipline is like your muscle. Meaning, you can work on it, build it, and grow it so that you will have more self-discipline.
It is just like your memory muscle. The more you use your memory, the better it becomes. The same goes for self-discipline. The more you discipline yourself, the more discipline you will be.
So, how do you grow self-discipline so that you don’t have to rely on motivation to succeed? Here are a couple of tips…
Practice it – As with any skill, you will need to train your self-discipline muscle so that it becomes stronger. And you have to be consistent. When you don’t feel motivated and feel like procrastinating on a task, choose to work on it. The more you train yourself to do the work when you don’t feel like it, the more your discipline muscle will grow.
Start with baby steps – you don’t have to push yourself to do big things or tackle a huge project in the beginning, you can always start small. The less willpower/motivation you need to complete a task, the better it is for you to develop self-discipline.
Focus on one behavior at a time – you don’t want to change every area of your life just because you want to build self-discipline. Start with one area, one behavior, one task, and one goal at a time. Trying to do too many things all at the same time will only make things more difficult, and it will paralyze you.
Focus on making progress, not result – this is important, you want to commit yourself to make progress, not result. If you can’t do 50 push-ups, do just 20. If you can’t write 1,000 words, write just 500 words. The key is to make progress, not results.
Set an exciting goal – yes, make use of an exciting goal to get you moving. If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to achieve your goals, most likely your goals are not exciting enough. Learn how to set empowering goals with Goal Setting Formula.
You Don’t Need Motivation, You Need Habits
“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”
I want to introduce you to Twyla Tharp. She is considered one of the greatest dancers and choreographers in the world and has choreographed dances for The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Boston Ballet, and many more.
In her best-selling book, The Creative Habit, Tharp uncovered one of the secrets for her success. This was what she said…
“I begin each day of my life with a ritual. I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours.
The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.
It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it—makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.”
And that’s the power of habits/rituals.
When an action becomes a habit, you will do it automatically, without much willpower and/or motivation.
So, you don’t need motivation to succeed, you need habits.
Think about the way you brush your teeth or how you bathe every day. You do it the same way for years. And I believe you brush your teeth every day, right? And you don’t need much motivation to do it.
You can brush your teeth even when you are in a sleepy mood, isn’t it?
That’s how habits work. Once a behavior becomes a habit, you will do it even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Just like writing articles and creating content for this blog, it has become my habit to do so. I don’t think about whether I should write, I will just do it when the time comes.
How to Develop Habits
Developing a new habit is all about being consistent. You want to do it at the same time, the same place, for as long as you can.
For example, if you want to develop the habit to exercise every morning, try to do it every morning at the same time and place, with the same routine.
When I first began building this blog, I choose to write my content every morning at 9 AM on my work desk. After a while, this action became a habit, and I don’t need much motivation to execute it.
When the time comes, I will just sit in front of my laptop, and chunk out words.
And if you want to learn how to develop habits for success, I suggest you get this book and read it right away, Atomic Habits.
You Don’t Need Motivation, You Need a System
Here’s another reason why you don’t need motivation – you build systems.
In other words, you create a commitment device that will put you into action, with or without motivation.
Maya Angelou was a famous American poet, poet, and activist. She has published 7 autobiographies, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows.
But, do you know how she did it?
Well, she achieved all the amazing success through the use of a commitment device, a system, not so much motivation.
In an interview, Angelou uncovered her writing habits. This was what she said…
“I usually get up at about 5:30, and I’m ready to have coffee by 6, usually with my husband. He goes off to his work around 6:30, and I go off to mine. I keep a hotel room in which I do my work—a tiny, mean room with just a bed, and sometimes if I can find it, a face basin.
I keep a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards, and a bottle of sherry in the room. I try to get there around 7, and I work until 2 in the afternoon. If the work is going badly, I stay until 12:30. If it’s going well, I’ll stay as long as it’s going well.
It’s lonely, and it’s marvelous. I edit while I’m working. When I come home at 2, I read over what I’ve written that day, and then try to put it out of my mind.”
This was the secret of Maya Angelou’s success. She committed to a system, whereby she rented a hotel room, kept the room minimal, with as few distractions as possible, and so she could focus on her work – writing. You can read about Maya Angelou’s routine here.
You don’t need much motivation when there is a system in place.
For example, when the hero Ulysses and his men wanted to sail past the Sirens, Ulysses knew that the Sirens were deadly and would seduce men into the deep sea.
But Ulysses wanted to experience the beauty of the Sirens’ songs, so what he did is he ordered his men to tie him to the mast of his ship, and only to release him after they have sailed past the Sirens.
As for his men, he ordered them to plug their ears with wax so that they could not hear the songs from the Sirens.
And because of the ear wax, his men could not be lured by Sirens. And because he was tied to the mast, Ulysses managed to hear the beautiful Sirens’ song and survived to tell the tale. You can read about the story here.
This is how a system works. When you commit to a system, you don’t need motivation.
Here are a couple more examples of how you can succeed without motivation:
- Change your environment. Lock yourself in a room so that you can focus on your work without distractions.
- Improve accountability. Get a partner so that you will have no excuse but to show up. Like having a partner to monitor your work or a partner to exercise together.
- Put yourself on the line. Burn the ships and leave no other options for yourself so that you will have to take action, do it, and make sure you succeed.
This is how you can achieve greater success without relying on motivation.
So, tell me, do you need motivation to succeed?
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