“I have goals but no motivation to achieve them.”
I hear this a lot. If I start talking to someone about their goals, ambitions, and dreams, one of the first things they usually tell me is that they don’t have the motivation to achieve them.
“Oooookaaaay,” I say slowly. “Well I guess I generally don’t have much motivation either.”
It’s often surprising to them to find I’m often unmotivated too.
“But then how do you get things done?” they ask.
“By not relying on the fleeting phenomenon of motivation,” I reply.
Motivation is a myth.
It doesn’t really exist.
At least, it doesn’t exist as a constant which is where the problems start. We often believe that motivation should be constant and that if we have goals and really, really want to achieve something, a state of constant motivation should naturally follow.
But why? Our own experiences tell us that motivation doesn’t last (there’s even science that says so), yet we continue to peg all our achievements on it. That needs to stop. If something isn’t working for us we need to stop, think, and change our approach to get where we want to go.
After all, why continue to rely on motivation when it obviously isn’t reliable?
Motivation is fickle and flighty. Motivation doesn’t care if you get through your to-do list and reach your goals. It’s just hanging out for the fun bit: the exciting start. After that it’s going to bugger off and leave you with the pile of hard work you now have to tackle alone. It’s up to you to know how to keep going without motivation.
I think we place a lot of value on motivation because it provides a short burst of energy and dedication, making it easy to start. So it follows that motivation is really just our initial determination and excitement for change; thus “motivation” a combination of these elements, not a state of its own.
I’m not motivated, I’m determined.
I have depression and have had for some time, so I learned the hard way that motivation can’t be relied upon. Depression steals energy and excitement, it makes everything feel dull and uninteresting. There have been many days where I’ve had to force myself to get up, to shower, to eat. I had no “motivation” to do so, but I knew I had to, so I gritted my teeth and did what I had to. Well, most of the time. As much as I could.
I’m hardy. I’m determined. I know how to grit my teeth and cut the complaining. I also know how to make a million and one excuses to myself about why I don’t want to or “can’t” study or do any work that day… but I also know that these are just excuses that I can choose to ignore. Everything is in my power. Even when my depression is impacting me, I still have the capacity to make choices.
And my choice is to continue down the pathway that leads to my goals. Even if I don’t get my normal amount done that day. Even if I have weeks where I’m constantly adding tasks from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s instead. At least I’m trying. I’m doing my best. Every day doesn’t have to be an incredibly productive day. The important thing is that I’m doing something. I’m moving forward. Forward. Forward. Forward. Always.
Motivation just isn’t relevant.
Relying on motivation is pointless. It’s also quite boring. Imagine when you’re very old and you have all your family around you. They ask about your life, but all you have are stories of all the things you wanted to do.
“Why didn’t you do any of that stuff?” they ask.
“I never felt motivated enough,” you reply.
How spineless. How unimpressive. You let something as simple as motivation stop you? It’s just one tiny little thing! Just get on with it.
So stop relying on motivation.
Just stop. It’s only an excuse you are using. Why are you really not moving forward? Are you scared you’ll fail? Do you not know where to start? Are you worried about the opinions of others? Are you actually on the fence about your plans?
Get real with yourself. Stop using motivation as a scapegoat. Motivation is just here for a good time, to get you fired up and started on the right track. Motivation can be an amazing ally if you don’t become dependent on it.
Make a plan. Stick to it. Change the plan if it’s consistently not working out well for you. Act, move, progress, always.
Stop thinking, just do. Lights, camera, action. You’ve got this.