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Why Your Lack of Motivation is Not Always the Problem

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Why Lack of Motivation is Not Always the Problem

When you are all fired up and excited about the thing you are planning to do, little motivation is needed.

Tony Robbins, motivational speaker, life coach and personal finance instructor, recently said that the best predictor of success in people is their hunger or, in other words, their passion towards whatever they are doing. Basically, according to Tony, it all boils down to this: How bad do you want it?

While I definitely agree with Tony on this one, I need to say that I don’t personally know anyone who always looks excited and passionate about their goals. Unfortunately, ups and downs in motivation may happen even when we are pursuing our most ambitious, most exciting goals. Goals, large goals in particular, may take a long time, perhaps years to achieve, and it can be very challenging to stay in this excited “hungry” state that is supposedly necessary for our success. Then there are other, not-so-exciting things we have to do. Maybe we don’t feel very motivated to do these things, but we surely would love the results. So what do we do? How do we motivate ourselves when we would rather chill in front of the television?

 

Tony Robbins quotes
 

You need a proven system that works

When it comes to large goals, financial goals in particular, the problem is often not what you think. It’s not your laziness or lack of motivation. It’s the lack of a clear plan that, when executed, will bring predictable results. In other words, you aren’t sure what you are supposed to do. You are still in that frustrating “throw spaghetti against the wall and see if it sticks” stage. It can be pretty discouraging when this stage lasts for too long, but it’s most often the case.

Let’s pretend that you decided to open an online store. You have a nice little product to ship, and you know you can get interested buyers to your site for as little as $0.50 per click using Google Adwords advertising platform.

All excited, you start your little experiment. Everything is so easy, your site is online, your shopping cart is ready, people are clicking on your ads. After a few hours you get your first sale. It’s working! Then you wait for another few hours and… nothing. You continue running your ads through the next day and… nothing again. Three days in, you are confused. You’ve already spent tons of money only to make one measly sale. You are actually losing. Nerve-racking, isn’t it?

Then when you are about to quit, you make four sales in one day, and then another couple of days without any profit follow. At this point, you are so confused that you decide to quit. Not that it’s not working (it is), but your results are unpredictable. This isn’t a proven system that brings predictable results. Staying motivated in this situation is very challenging.

Compare that to someone who made their plan, found their perfect ads and advertising medium, figured out who are their perfect customers and where they live, and now is able to target them with laser-like precision. Once the plan works in their favor, they can scale it all up and reach their desired income level. Would this person have problems with motivation? No way! Once the system is in place, little motivation is needed. The real question is how to stay motivated when you are in that “throw spaghetti against the wall and see if it sticks” stage trying to figure out what works.

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Surviving the initial stages

Just like willpower, motivation doesn’t last very long for most people. You need to find a more reliable way to help yourself get through the beginning stages of your project. It is not going to be easy, but it’s doable.

Here are 4 ideas to help your motivation level:

 

1. Educate yourself

A lot of mistakes we do in the beginning is because of the lack of knowledge and experience. How do we tackle that? By educating ourselves of course! Although there obviously is initial time and energy in the investment, it will save you time, money and other resources in the long run. There is another benefit to educating yourself too, things become much more interesting and fun when you know what you are doing. Once you reach that stage, you get what you were looking for; the natural motivation.

 

2. Surround yourself with people who do something similar

Not only can you learn from them, but you can support each other when things don’t go as expected. In addition, you will be less likely to quit because of the sense of social accountability. You will be embarrassed to acknowledge your failures, and you don’t fail unless you quit.

“Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey

3. Consider the cost of inaction

Sometimes the cost of inaction may exceed the costs of making a mistake. As Tim Ferriss has pointed out, don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action. It’s equally important to evaluate the downside of inaction as well. Are you going to be satisfied with the decision to leave the things the way they are now five or ten years from now? Is your life miserable? Are you bored and uninspired? Be honest with yourself; denial, even optimistic denial, is rarely a good strategy to deal with the challenges in your life.

 

4. Deal with procrastination

Many things you will have to do are not going to be fun, and you will be tempted to procrastinate. Simply getting started and committing to work for a short period of time will almost always do the trick. What will happen is that you will usually end up working for much longer than expected, accomplishing much more.

 

To sum up what has been mentioned above, in many cases the lack of motivation is not the real problem. Motivation can be too fickle to be reliable. What you need is a good understanding of what has to be done, what will bring you predictable results and a good strategy that will help you survive the initial learning and testing stages.

Thank you for reading my article! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Shaun

    Jan 11, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    Great article. Thank you so much for sharing your insights. There is so much information that can become clutter. You’re right. Planning is critical. Cheers! – Shaun

  2. jessy

    Sep 14, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Amazing!! just the right ideas, Thanks a lot for this advice

  3. Lawrence Berry

    Sep 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    You are correct in that the lack of motivation may not be the problem in the initial stages, but the lack of knowledge, which leads to the lack of results, which then leads to the lack of motivation can many times be the problem. But, that is why they say that it is important to start failing, so that you can learn from those failures. People tend to give up too easily, but you are not always to going win on the first try. You have to build a certain resiliency to failure and challenges that you will face, and know that everything takes time. There is a famous saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    • Elena

      Sep 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      True, true. And to acquire that knowledge and experience we need time and patience. Good luck with your projects! 🙂

  4. Heather

    Sep 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Elena,
    Great post – and I’ve read it at just the right time, as I’m throwing spaghetti at the wall (although I only just realised it when I read this post).

    Getting clear at the outset and surrounding yourself with the right people have definitely been keys to success for me.

    I’m off to practice what I preach on my new project – thanks!

    • Elena

      Sep 9, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Heather and thanks for your comment 🙂

      The spaghetti stage is the most frustrating stage, but it’s necessary to pass through it because that’s how you figure out what works. Once you do, things will be so much easier!

  5. mehdyy

    Sep 9, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Am agree with everything you said in this article, in my case i dont have a clear plan, i know what i want, be and have, that is not always enough. By just going one step futher to make it more cleaner can really be the difference between amazing results and little results.

    Thank You for the clairity, love it!

    • Elena

      Sep 9, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you Mehdyy 🙂 Yes, without clarity things become very hard. When this happens to me, I just force myself to pick one thing and work in that direction until I have some results or feedback. Because if I don’t, I will just go in circles and end up with nothing. Good luck with your projects!

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Success Advice

Why You Should Prefer Emails to Phone Calls if You Want to Be More Productive

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productivity tips
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“Email” and “productivity” rarely go together in a sentence. Emails have been declared as one of our largest time wasters. A McKinsey report stated that people spend around 2.6 hours each day responding to emails. That’s 13 hours a week, 52 hours a month and over 60 days a year! Imagine what you could’ve achieved in 60 days!

Emails also negatively affect our cognitive resources. When we think of responding to them while doing other important tasks, it takes up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds after being disrupted to return to full attention to a current task. Imagine how much our cognition and productivity gets fractured when we get distracted over and over again.

Constant emailing also drains us mentally. And at the end of a day, we realize that we’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning. With a phone call, you can sort issues and solve problems quickly, right? In theory, you’re right. But we live in a practical world where many variables come into play.

Below are three variables that make phone calls adversely affect our productivity, and why emails are a better alternative:

1. Wasting Time

Most “five-minute conversations” can quickly turn into 35-minute calls because people ramble about irrelevant aspects. This derailment, several times a day, severely limits the limited time and energy you have for important tasks.

Emails, on the other hand, force writers to streamline their thoughts and stick to the point. Emails can save you plenty of time and energy because you avoid lengthy phone calls. The constant strife to keep your own emails short and crisp also makes you a clearer thinker, which rewards you in other aspects of your life.

“It’s better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.” – Hal Sparks

2. Inaccurate Responses

An unexpected phone call can catch me caught off guard on a topic. I might respond emotionally or give an answer that doesn’t do justice to what I want to share. In a world dominated by panic buttons and fire-fighting, these don’t just stress me out but the caller as well.

Emails give me flexibility to prepare a coherent response and share it when I’m satisfied. If I feel a surge of emotion, I can sleep over the thought and share a better (more rational) response the next day. Many page-long email responses to emails that upset me have turned into a simple “thank you for your email” the next day.

3. Constant Back-and-Forth

Phone calls often are ineffective to solve business problems. Accounting for multiple people, their views, their timelines… One phone call can quickly turn into three.

Emails are quicker and more effective than even conference calls. They let you communicate with multiple people at the same time. You can share information, assign tasks and give status updates while being as specific as possible.

You must be wondering, “What about back-and-forth emails then? Why do we waste precious time on them?” Yes, email has earned a bad rap. But it’s not because of the medium; it’s because we handle it ineffectively.

A Better Approach to Emailing

For most people, constantly refreshing the inbox is part of the daily to-do list. It keeps them busy and gives them a kick of dopamine – the feel-good chemical.

Ironically, this quest to remain busy makes people compromise on taking action that can move them forward. Using emails prudently, rewards you with plenty of energy and mind space to focus on tasks that truly matter.

Here are three steps that benefited me without succumbing to the side effects of email:

1. Checking Them Less

I check emails just 3 times a day – at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. If you don’t have the luxury to do the same, you can start by checking your emails for ten minutes at the end of each hour. Most senders expect a response in a little over an hour. So they won’t mind a slightly delayed response. This gives you 45 undisturbed minutes each hour to work on your core tasks.

2. Responding Quickly

People delay responding to emails at least 37% of the time, which turns finding emails and responding to them into additional tasks that cost time and lead to attention residue. Most emails take under two minutes to respond. When you can respond to an email, do so instead of putting it off. This won’t just put your mind at peace, it’ll also reduce the number of “did-you-see-this” follow-up emails in your inbox.

“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk

3. The If-Then Technique

The If-Then technique helps you address multiple scenarios at once. For instance, an email that says, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM?” becomes, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”

This technique is also effective when you want to suggest ideas or provide instructions on alternative steps. For example, “Here’s Plan A. If it doesn’t work, connect with [name] and ask for [specific information]. If you don’t get what you need, inform me.”

I’ll admit. This sounds like more work in the current moment, but it drastically cuts down the number of trail mails, confused correspondences, and fire-fighting instances that occur due to miscommunication.

The If-Then formula is the single most effective technique I’ve learned from The 4-Hour Workweek. All of this doesn’t mean that you abandon phone calls, In fact, it’s better to use the phone for sensitive topics or if an email conversation gets dragged. But remain mindful to not let phone calls waste your time.

If you want to pursue a meaningful life, place a premium on your time. Do things that create time for you to pursue meaningful actions and avoid doing what pulls you away from them. In the knowledge economy, this is the key to success.

Do you prefer email or talking on the phone? Share your thoughts below!

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Success Advice

4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Reach the Level of Success You So Desperately Crave

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how to be happy and successful
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It’s normal that every person in the world wants to reach success and happiness. Yet, everyone defines both of these things differently. For some, success is making a whole bunch of money while for others this can be to become a good parent. Happiness is defined differently as well. Some people need to own a jet, boat and 3 cars to be truly happy, while others are happy just to be able to wake up in the morning.

It doesn’t matter how you define success and happiness, the truth is, you want to achieve them both. But, to be able to reach success and happiness, you need to answer 4 questions for yourself.

Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before you can achieve success and happiness:

1. Where Are You?

No, not geographically. It doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is where are you in life. Where are you in your way to success and happiness. Let’s say you are lost in the woods. You know exactly where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are. Even a map doesn’t help you with that.

The same is true in life. You may have a goal, but until you truly define where you are in the moment, you can’t move toward this goal. So, step 1 on your way to success and happiness is to define where you are right now.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

2. Where Do You Want to Go?

When you define where you are in life, then you can think of where you want to be.

There’s this saying:  When you don´t know your final destination, you´ll end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Until you don’t know clearly where you want to be in life and who you want to become, your life doesn’t have a true purpose.

Without purpose, there´s no motivation. Without motivation, there´s no energy. And without energy, you´re not living, you´re just existing. I am sure you know someone who looks like a walking corpse everytime you see them. Do you think this person lives a successful and happy life? Most likely not.

So, step 2 on your way to success and happiness is to clearly define your goal. What do you want to accomplish and who do you want to become?

3. Why Do You Want It?

Okay, you know the basics. You know where you are and where you want to be. But, as Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And as you already know, life usually doesn’t go according to your plan. There will be hard times and to overcome those and not give up, you need to know WHY you do what you do.

You need to know WHY you want to accomplish your goals. When you answer this for yourself, you don’t struggle so much to motivate yourself. You will be motivated every minute of every day.

So, as a step 3, sit down and think of WHY you want to accomplish your goals. What’s the big purpose?

“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” – Tony Robbins

4. How Are You Going to Get There?

And finally, how are you going to get there? What’s your plan? You may know where you are, where you want to be and why you want to do it, but until you truly understand how you are going to get there, there won’t be much success and happiness in your life.

For example, you want to become a bodybuilder. You want to do it because you want to have big muscles and you want to look fit. But, you have no idea how to work out, how to build muscle and how to lose fat. Do you think, you´re going to be happy? No. As Tony Robbins says, “true happiness comes from progress.”

To make progress, you need to have a specific plan; how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you want to be). So, as a step 4, sit down and make a specific plan for how you’re going to get what you want in life.

In order to reach success and happiness, there are 4 questions you need to answer for yourself. Without answering them, you´re not going to  get ahead in life, you´re just bouncing around. Success and happiness never come from just bouncing around in life.

Good news is, that these questions are really simple. It won’t take much time to answer them. Just be aware of where you are and where you want to be. Don´t forget to understand why you are pursuing your dream and finally, how are you going to get what you want.

Answer these 4 simple questions today and you won’t struggle with finding success and happiness in life anymore.

Which one of the above 4 questions resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

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The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

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Claude Silver CHO of Vaynermedia
Image Credit: VaynerMedia

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018, I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”. I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. That message spoke to me on an emotional level, and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia have been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart. With the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation.

Although business can be a challenging, tough, and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

Below we’ll see 3 different ways the CHO of VaynerMedia is changing the way people work:

1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story, but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths.

When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without its challenges.”

Claude is openly gay and is living proof your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but your character, your track record, and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous. I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy, but I have stories.” – Tafta Johnson Watson

2. Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining.

With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer, she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting, she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individual’s talents but most importantly their own heart”.  

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:”To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself“.

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit to and live with a strong value system, will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3. Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats, she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors.

Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene and sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

“Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work, I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. Here is one of the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia.

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life.

From this article, it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards. The “soft” skills you develop are humongous strengths and to truly impact an entire organization.

What’s the last random act of kindness you did for someone? Share with us below!

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Success Advice

The 7 Secrets of High Achievers Revealed

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high achievers
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We all have goals in life, but very few of us ever learn to consciously set, work on and see our goals through. In our naturalness bias, we marvel at those who have set and reached their goals thinking they have some esoteric abilities that we don’t. We overlook that the final product is the result of a series of mistake-ridden, unrecorded pains. What if we could learn from the process, the habits and rituals of the high achievers? (more…)

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