Why Motivation is Tricky Business
Motivation has a tendency of slipping away pretty quickly, if you let it.
As I write this, it is nearly 3 weeks into January 2022. And the signs of waning motivation are everywhere.
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I’m a Weirdo
I’m one of those weirdos who likes winter.
I love breathing in the crisp winter air and seeing the sun glisten off the white snow. I love skating and tobogganing with my kids.
Where I live we tend to get quite a bit of snow. So it’s perfect for me.
One of the things I take great pride in is keeping my driveway and front walkway clean.
Not everyone in my neighborhood treats the task of snow clearing with gusto, but I always make sure to get out there when there’s fresh snow and get that driveway clear again.
I could hire someone to come out and keep the driveway clean for me, but I enjoy doing it.
If I’m honest, it’s a bit of a source of pride for me.
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But something unusual has happened this year.
We got A LOT of snow.
It feels like we’ve been getting a new snowfall every other day.
And, while this is great for a lot of winter activities, it also means a lot more snow needs to get cleared off my driveway.
With all this extra snow, I can feel my motivation starting to slip.
I’m not quite as eager to get out there as I was back in November.
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You’re Not Alone
So, as I looked out the window, contemplating whether I should get outside and clear the latest snowfall yesterday, I suddenly realized something:
I wasn’t alone.
In fact, the vast majority of people in the world are also struggling with motivation this week.
Now that we’re nearly 3 weeks into the new year, the shine is beginning to fade off the fancy new goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of January.
And, as a result, by the end of this week, 64% of us will have completely abandoned our New Year’s resolutions.
So, as I stood there looking out the window, I thought about how millions of other people are feeling just like me.
Most people probably aren’t too worried about the snow on their driveway, but they are beginning to feel the motivation to hit those new targets or achieve those new results fade.
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It’s Make or Break Time
This week is really the first make or break week of 2022.
The majority of people will give up and break, while only a small minority of people will find a way to keep their motivation intact.
What about you? Will you make it, or will you break?
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Your Motivation Engine
For most people, motivation is a tricky thing that seems to come and go as it pleases.
One week it feels like it’s there to stay.
The next week it feels like it’ll never return.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
When you learn a few foundational psychological principles, you can create what I call a “motivation engine,” which you can use to power you through while everyone else is giving up.
These principles are simple:
- Motivation comes to those who pursue what they want to do.
- Motivation loves clarity.
- Motivation follows action.
Motivation Comes to Those Who Pursue what They WANT to Do
So many of us are caught up doing things our bosses, colleagues, friends, families, and governments tell us we should do.
We spend our days in our inboxes replying to other people’s demands on our time.
And we fill our to-do lists with other people’s priorities.
In other words, most of us spend most of our time doing things we don’t actually want to do.
When that happens, motivation will shrivel up and blow away in a hurry.
So, if you want more motivation, start prioritizing the things you want to accomplish.
Motivation Loves Clarity
This is one of the most important productivity principles you can possibly learn: CLARITY IS KING.
When you’re clear about what goals you’re trying to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve them, when you’re going to achieve them, and how you’re going to achieve them, you are creating a space for motivation to thrive.
You can think about clarity as your work environment. Imagine trying to land that new client on the phone when your standing in the middle of a construction zone.
Or imagine trying to organize your files if your office were under water.
In either case, you’re probably not going to have much success.
Well, whenever you don’t have clarity, it’s like you’re inviting motivation to come work in a terrible work environment.
It’s not going to take long before she quits.
Now, imagine you had an air-controlled office with a great view and every resource you could possibly need at your fingertips.
That’s the sort of environment where real work can get done.
And when you have clarity, that’s the kind of environment you create for motivation to do its work.
In the end, if you want motivation to stick around, you’re going to want to give it the best working environment you possibly can.
Motivation Follows Action
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that they need to wait to act until they feel motivated.
But this isn’t true.
Motivation always follows action.
Taking action—even if it might be taking you in the wrong direction—is always the secret to motivation.
On the days when I feel like I’m lacking motivation (because it’s raining, or I was up half the night with one of my kids), I immediately think of one small action step I can take.
Sometimes it’s just sitting at my desk.
Maybe I just need to turn on my computer or make a cup of coffee.
Even these little, insignificant actions can start to generate motivation.
When I sit down at my desk with a cup of coffee in hand, I start to feel like I’m already working.
And if I’m already working, why not keep going?
So, I open up whatever I need to work on and start getting going.
I might not have had the motivation to work on my project the moment I woke up.
But now that I’m sitting at my desk, my motivation begins to come back.
The Business of Motivation
In the end, motivation doesn’t have to be tricky business.
But it is business.
Like a business, it needs to be managed carefully.
It’s not something that just comes and goes on its own.
Remember: You are in control. And if motivation is tricky for you, it’s because you’re allowing it to be so.