Now, this is weird. You came here to find another source of motivation to keep going, and you’re being told that you shouldn’t. Hang on, because I have valid reasons for this, and I hope you will agree with me at least on something.
You see, motivation is a slippery topic. As we are all different individuals, what works for one person doesn’t really do the same miracle for another, and it’s pretty easy to fall into accusations of laziness from that spot.
Here are 4 reasons why you should stop reading motivational books:
1. Our mind doesn’t differentiate fiction and real life
Well, of course, not on a massive scale – though some religions and conspiracy theories suggest that we are all delusional and the real life is different. However, psychological experiments confirm that our minds can’t really tell whether the thing is actually happening or we are just watching or reading about it. This is why we get so entrenched by a fascinating movie or a good book. Generally, it’s a good thing, but it can turn on you when it comes to motivation.
It turns out for me that the more I read and visualize my success, the less motivated I feel. I get this sugary state of dreaminess and numbness, which, I guess, appears due to the fact my brain thinks that I am already there.
2. These books create a dangerous illusion
The illusion we all like to play is named “I’m doing something good with my life,” and it probably has its roots in the first point. I bet you know the feeling you get when you start eating healthier or doing sports just to drop that the next day. You will feel guilty, sure, but you still get that “I’m doing something good with my life” feeling.
This feeling is addictive, because it gives us a sense of change and improvement without the actual strain of change and improvement (because we aren’t doing much in reality).
And somehow reading articles on how to eat healthier and become more organized has the exact same impact on me – they trick me into feeling I’m doing something useful. Yes, reading is good, but I’m not doing anything that moves me towards my goal.
3. There’s nothing new to say
Okay, the Internet is the place where information is repeated over and over and over again. It is also probably an essential part of human nature, since useful information was the key to survival a long time ago. But now reading 15 articles on the same topic isn’t likely to spike your chances of success, because at least half of them will contain the exact same advice.
Do you know what to do with the time you have now? Do the actual thing you intend to work on or want to start! We are all motivation junkies, so let yourself occasionally read an article or two, and publish your favorite quote once a week. This will help you both save time and stay on the verge of your emotional state.
“The best career advice I’ve gotten is to stay focused, keep moving forward.” – Tyga
4. No one can do that for you
This is one of my personal favorites, because I am the kind of person who thinks that if you aren’t enjoying something, you shouldn’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, I have this on a scale a human being should not have – all in all, we all have things we don’t like doing, and they are unlikely to end. Raised by parents with a “you must” mindset, I once made up my mind to not do a single thing I didn’t like, and that didn’t turn out so well.
The good thing about motivational books and a motivation-friendly attitude is that you can learn a lot about yourself, your likes and dislikes. The bad thing is that it leaves the feeling that I can find just the right motivational method, and success will be easy (at least, that is true for me). Sadly – no, you can’t take the actual work out of the work by clever motivational techniques and habit-creating strategies.
Quitting the almost-compulsive reading of motivational articles is a good thing on its own, but as you probably know, you need to do something else to fill the void and make the habit stick.
Here are 3 things to do instead:
1. Take time to find your passion
Yes, this is another boring piece of advice you’ve heard a gazillion times. At least I thought so before I actually stumbled upon my passion. Do you know what you need to do? Try things, and one of them will inevitably attract your attention. What do you need to have to try things? Time. Reading motivational articles also requires time. I’ll leave you to do the math on your own.
2. Don’t stress out about moving too slowly
This is another personal favorite, because I am always not fast enough, not epic enough and not successful enough. Motivational articles, if consumed in the wrong way and in amounts I used to consume them, can do more harm than good in such case. You read how other people become successful, compare their lives to yours, and find out you are doing badly so the vicious cycle continues. In general, try not to do anything that makes you feel a twitch of doubt about yourself. This includes watching your friend’s cool vacation photos, cyber stalking your ex and crying over some girl’s Instagram photo with a thousand-roses bouquet.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
3. Explore other things that motivate you
Now when I feel down or useless I go to people who love me and ask them to say something nice. I often have a look at my published articles and other things I’m proud of. It can be anything from a bubble bath to talking to your significant other, as long as it gives you a boost in confidence and helps get back on track. Of course, at first it will be difficult and you will crave reading articles, but soon you will find that life has a lot more motivational things to offer you.
What kind of bad impact can motivational articles have on our strive for success? Share your opinions and then we can move towards our ultimate goals together!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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