4 Motivation Myths & Why It’s Not About Willpower – Part 1

These 4 myths may be holding you hostage, sabotaging your success before you even get rolling.

When I begin working with a new coaching client, it’s not unusual for them to tell me how they’ve been struggling to gain ground on their goals.  They usually say something like, “I don’t know why I procrastinate so much.  I just don’t have the willpower to get started and stick with it.”

They really believe there’s something sub-par within them that they’re constantly trying to compensate for.

The problem is, we’re looking for a magic button to help us “get motivated” or “have more willpower”. Searching for it only leaves us feeling like everyone else got to go to the dance, but for some unknown reason, we didn’t merit an invitation.

Much of what we’ve been taught about
motivation, willpower, and focus has the reverse effect
– it causes procrastination.

Let’s look at the first 2 of these 4 all too common myths.

MYTH #1:  I need to get motivated, so I can get this done

While it’s true that feeling motivated can lead to action, waiting to “feel” motivated will send us straight into procrastination mode.

Even if we attend an inspiring event, listen to a teaching or other such thing to “get motivated”, that feeling quickly evaporates in the reality of the day because there’s nothing of substance to support it.

Here’s where we make our mistake….
We assume we must feel MOTIVATED in order to take ACTION

That assumption seems legitimate because there’s a grain of truth in it. For example; a looming deadline can indeed cause us to feel motivated to take action.

But are we truly motivated in a sustainable way?

Not really, because our action is fear based. We’re reluctantly taking action because we feel fear, not the “want to” of authentic motivation.

Our action is fueled by the desire to avoid the pain of a negative consequence. This form of “motivation” evaporates as soon as the pressure lifts, leaving us back at square one.

In the reality of day to day life,
ACTION creates the feeling of MOTIVATION, (the “want to”)
not the other way around

Try this instead…

Redefine “success” as the completion of simple daily routines and processes.

This makes the feeling of being “successful” something that can be experienced on a daily basis. It’s a win, and feeling like a winner is far more desirable than feeling deflated because you made 5 calls to potential clients that didn’t lead to a single appointment for the next week.

That good feeling you gain from “winning” is what creates – and sustains – the feeling of “wanting to” (motivation) win some more. We enjoy the immediate gratification of feeling successful NOW, rather working and working and working, and maybe 6 months from now we’ll feel successful for a day or two when we (hopefully) hit that benchmark goal.

In the daily micro-grind, it’s easy to lose perspective or feel overwhelmed (which is decidedly de-motivating), unless there’s something tangible we can mark as an accomplishment.

Although hitting the desired outcome of a 6 month goal is a flashy high, this simple paradigm shift will give you a reason to want to take action – and take action TODAY, without stress, fear, or discouragement.

Raise the value of executing daily process within the culture of your team,
then watch productivity, morale, and organizational achievement soar.

MYTH #2:  If I make a vision board and keep my big goal in front of me, I’ll be motivated to get there.

Have you noticed, having your big end goal – that glorious, desired outcome, staring you in the face all the time actually demotivates and discourages you? You may even find yourself procrastinating more than before. It’s backfiring!

What’s going on?

The problem is – Mentally and emotionally, standing in the reality of today, looking down the long road to where you want to be feels overwhelming. We start feeling fatigued just thinking about what it’s going to take to get there. It feels like any step we take today is just a drop in the bucket compared to what it’s going to take, so it’s tough to make yourself dive into the discomfort of working, working, and working some more, with no immediate reward.

On an emotional level, it’s like trying to drum up the willpower to arabesque over the Grand Canyon.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Don’t get me wrong. Big goals are awesome for giving purpose and a place to aim our activity at, but they’re too much to swallow in one lump because they’re out there on the distant horizon.

Here’s what to do instead…

  1. Set your big, audacious goal – but no larger or longer than a (1) year target.
  2. Segment that 1 year target into two sub-goals of 6 months each, then (90) days each. This is where you’ll make camp – creating a PLAN for achieving that 90 day sub-goal.
  3. Break that 90 day target into four 21 day legs of the journey, each with a target. A 21 day target feels attainable. We can wrap our heads around that without getting overwhelmed.
  4. Break that 21 day target into weekly mile markers, consisting of small tasks and/or processes.
  5. Create a daily action plan for that week, which designates – in writing – which day and what time you will execute each day’s tasks and processes. Basically, you’re scheduling achievement appointments with yourself each day.
  6. Once you’ve created the overall plan, set the plan aside, and focus only on the small steps you’ll take EACH DAY.
  7. At the end of each week pull your plan out and check your progress. Adjust as needed, then create a new plan for the next week. You may even want to take a peek at your Vision Board, but set it aside again until you’re closer to the homestretch.
    Rally the team to walk through the steps above together

    How has believing these myths sabotaged your progress in the past? 
    What changes can you implement THIS WEEK to position yourself for daily action?
    Share your Comments below.

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