Why Motivation Will Let You Down

Oxford Languages’ definition of motivation is “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.”  That is a pretty broad statement yet so many people spend hours both posting and reading content that revolves around motivation.  It seems everyone is looking for that perfect quote, that perfect meme or that perfect sentiment to get them on their way to their goals.  Well, sorry to burst your bubble but, if motivation is your strategy to success, you’re likely going to fail.

What is Your Reason?

Even if you get by the textbook definition of motivation, you still need to find your “reason.”  So, what is your “why?”  Why are you going to get out of bed at 4:30AM every day to workout?  Why are you going to outwork every other sales person at your company?  Why are you going to dedicate over a decade of your life to jiu-jitsu to earn a black belt? You may have a myriad of “reasons” but ultimately, even your reasons may not be strong enough to keep you going day after day, year after year.  So, identify your “why” but understand it doesn’t stop there.

You Are Going to Fail Before You Succeed

It is inevitable. You are for sure going to fail and perhaps, fail many times, before you reach your final goal.  If your motivation, if your reasons are the only thing moving you forward, will they be enough to power you through the dark times?  Will they be enough to get you through the empty bank account, the injuries, the exhaustion?  Maybe.  But failure can be very demotivating and often, a bump in the road is enough to knock even a very motivated train off a track.  See where we are going here?

Your Influencers Are Probably Lying to You

Scroll through any social media feed and you’ll find hundreds of posts about “hustling,” “going for it,” “never quitting.”  You’ll see thousands of toned and “driven” influencers telling you that there are “no excuses” and to follow them and you can achieve the same level of success.  Well, firstly many of those people are not as successful as they portray.  Not even close.  But more importantly, what truly motivates them?  Is it to help you get to your best you or is it to sell a generic multivitamin in a spiffy package for a 50% markup?  Put the phone down.  The answer is not there.

It Is Not Motivation, It Is Discipline You’re After

Here comes the payload.  It is not motivation that is going to keep you going day after day and year after year, it is discipline and dedication.  You don’t think Michael Jordan had days when he did not want to play basketball?  You don’t think Steve Jobs had days when he questioned everything about what he was doing?  Sure, they were motivated.  Maybe MJ wanted to be the greatest basketball player of all time.  Maybe Steve Jobs wanted to be known as the greatest innovator of his generation.  But, that is not what got them through decade after decade of hard work or what got them through the dark days when they wanted to quit.  It was the dedication to their craft and to their end goal and the discipline to keep going when everything told them they should quit. 

Do not rely on motivation to get you to the top of the mountain.  Count on the discipline to take a step even when you think you are too tired to walk.  The dedication to keep going even after you have fallen down.  This is what will bring you to the top of the mountain.

Final Thought

Motivation is a great catch phrase and a very popular Internet term these days.  From business to marathon running, it gets thrown around fairly loosely as the basis for all successful people.  That just is not the case.  Even without proper motivation, if you stay committed and disciplined, you will find success.  It may not be the success you wanted or needed if it did not align with your motivations but, you will get there.  However, if all you have is motivation and no dedication or discipline, it is almost guaranteed you will fall short.

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