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Motivation is overrated!

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

“If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule – Never lie to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

I often hear people asking questions: "How do I get motivated to do x or y?" Many self-help books and articles talk about the importance of motivation when picking up a new habit or creating a new routine. My view is to treat motivation as nice-to-have, not a must-have. You wake up one day ready, energized, and motivated to work out in the morning. FANTASTIC! Well done, and be grateful for that. The next day, you may wake up on the wrong side of the bed and feel like doing nothing. Is that a reason to do nothing? (Everyone has their answer to this question.)

I often get asked questions about:

  • How do you get yourself to work out every day?

  • Why do you eat the way you eat?

  • How do you stay motivated?

My secret? I don't think about motivation. Motivation is overrated and can be hard to find. Motivation is fading, and so if you only rely on building habits/ routines/ skills when you have motivation, you will be very inconsistent. You may find that one day it may be there and another day you cannot find it anywhere. Instead of focusing on motivation, focus on making a decision, create an agreement with yourself (defining a clear set of priorities together with understanding why this new habit/ routine/ experiment is vital for you might be helpful), and then DO IT! Don't overthink things. Make it simple! The simpler you can make it, the easier path to success. Notice that all the thinking in the previous sentence is done before the "DO IT!" DOING itself doesn't need any motivation. It needs executing and getting things done. It is a power of will! I also find that systemizing can be very useful when constructing an experiment and creating a habit that supports the goal you want to achieve.

To bring this into a tennis analogy: I have loved playing tennis, and at the same time to be great, tennis is a sport that requires a lot of hours of practice, hard work, commitment, dedication, and attention to detail. This carries over across anything and everything in life. Having talent means being blessed, and it may help initially, but talent is not the main differentiator for greatness over the long run. Putting in a consistent effort, being committed to regular practice, and making your practice as effective as you can is what counts in the long run. Being a great tennis player means spending many hours every day for many years on a court chasing and hitting yellow balls and spending many additional hours outside of the court to improve your mental skills, strength, endurance, agility, coordination, flexibility, and all the other things that go with it. You are not always motivated to show up for practice, but you do it anyway because you know it is part of the job, and if one wants to be great, you HAVE TO DO IT! Show up every day and give it your best. Giving it your best doesn't mean that you are at your best every day. Some days are just awful, you are sore, tired, and in a bad mood, but you still show up and give it all you have for that particular day and practice. That is what counts!

One coach once told me:

"You may not always be at your best, but knowing that you went out there and gave it all you had is what counts. You might lose, but if you lose, knowing that you have tried every single thing possible and you have put in your full effort, you will lose with dignity and without regrets. You did your best. That is all you can ask from yourself."

How does this apply to "Motivation is overrated?" In my opinion, people who are looking for motivation are looking for excuses. The sentence typically starts with; I don't have the motivation to do it. Guess what? You don't need motivation! You need to start the doing! Doing doesn't mean one needs to be motivated to start. Thankfully, motivation is not a prerequisite for doing. Doing means commitment to practice and getting things done.

Decide - Commit - Do It!

Remove motivation and thinking from doing,

and you will be much more consistent!

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