last updated 25/05/2022

Why Motivation Doesn’t Work (What to do instead)

Why is motivation not reliable? What is the main cause of lack of motivation?

By itself, motivation is useless because it can’t be the main source of fuel.

Obviously, it is important to a certain degree, but it only takes you so far. At its core, motivation is merely the desire to do. Desire on a certain level is necessary for every life choice made.

It’s a must for day-to-day life. Sometimes, there isn’t anything wrong with a small boost of motivation. Problems begin to settle in when motivation is the sole focus.

This article will detail all the reasons why you should not focus on motivation and what can be done in its stead.

Motivation Is Not Consistent

It would be paradise if everyone could feel an identical amount of motivation on any given day.

Sadly, this is impossible in the face of reality and there will be times when you just don’t feel it, even if we consider our personalities to be driven in nature or extremely motivated to achieve goals.

It’s unreliable due to the fact that it is the byproduct of so many factors that can never truly be understood. On any given day, you’re liable to feel extremely motivated.

Yet, the next day, you may just want to take things easy in bed for no apparent reason. Motivation is primarily based on energy levels that change over time, with each passing day.

Many factors may be external, such as circumstances beyond your own control. Therefore, motivation is driven by feelings and emotions that are constantly fluctuating and changing.

The issue with focusing and relying on motivation is the fact that you can simply be waiting to take action. You may operate under the belief that if you aren’t motivated, you should not have to act on goals. A lack of motivation should be expected and is completely normal.

Often, motivation relies on raw willpower. Unfortunately, this is always a finite resource that can be easily used up.

Better Ways To Take Action

The good news is that there are better things that can be done instead of concerns related to just increasing your motivation.

If you are able to take care of other issues, motivation will come naturally. Here are some strategies you can use to alter your focus on other things outside of pure motivation.

A big mistake made when setting goals is simply being caught up in the sheer fantasy of achieving the goal and neglecting the steps needed to achieve it.

Expecting ahead of time that motivation is not consistent allows better preparation and planning for when we aren’t motivated.

Building habits helps to remove the decision-making from such a process. Once a habit is developed, motivation becomes less and less necessary.

These make actions persist. Even in the event that an action is small in size, it ends up compounding in a significant way. With such habits, you won’t be waiting for motivation. Instead, action will be taken every day towards your goals and objectives.

Often what appears as nothing more than a lack of motivation is in fact an issue related to confusion and clarity. Ensure that goals and tasks are actionable and specific.

When tackling big projects or goals, you need to be looking for the next action steps to take. Commit to figuring out the right path instead of allowing yourself to get stuck.

When you consider yourself to be a certain classification of person, your actions will reveal that you are such a type of person.

This removes motivation from the equation. If you believe you’re the type of person that takes action, you will take action. What’s more, if you believe you’re the type of person that gets things done, you will get things done. The human mind dislikes cognitive dissonance which is defined as a gap in your actions and beliefs.

Begin practicing towards being the person you wish to become. Show up as if you were them today.

If you are still unsure, start to ask yourself questions related to the type of person you wish to become and how they behave and act.

Always be practicing thoughts about yourself as if you are already the type of person you intend to become with the full belief that you can be that person. Channeling identities are a powerful tool for establishing everlasting change.

Break Larger Things Down

Big goals, tasks, and projects are often daunting and prevent you from taking action or just starting out. What you are able to do is simplify the task, reduce its size, or break it up into smaller chunks. Doing this will allow taking action to feel less overwhelming.

Breaking things down results in quick, easily trackable wins. These establish confidence and motivation to keep you going.

Starting from zero and progressing to one is often the most difficult task. Our minds often trick us into believing that something is more uncomfortable than it really is.

It’s much easier to keep things going after getting started. Things that are in motion tend to stay in motion.

Always Persist

Don’t wait things out for motivation to come.

We love to procrastinate under the impression we’ll want to do something more later or will be motivated to later on. This is nothing more than a failure to properly anticipate our future feelings.

You need to be reminding yourself on a daily basis that you don’t have to feel like you want to do something in order to actually do it.

By doing it anyway, you will feel much better than taking action in the here and now rather than putting things off for the future you to deal with.

Actions must always dictate feelings and not the other way around. Tell yourself that hard things can and will be done no matter what.

Not seeing instant results often immensely discourages us and lowers motivation. Impatience is a very common dilemma found amongst procrastinators. They want immediate results but put off action. Progress in big endeavors is slow and gradual. Enjoy the journey and the process.

Your actions must always have a sense of urgency, and your results must always be patiently waited for.

Forced Functions

Forcing functions helps make your intended outcome far easier. They eliminate the decision-making process and automate habits and actions. Some examples of forcing functions to aid in your goals include:

  • Hiring personal trainers
  • Automatically transfer a certain percentage of funds from a checking account to a savings account each month
  • Use programs and tools to reduce distractions like Airplane Mode to turn on at bedtime
  • Set up reminders
  • Have a partner that can be accountable for you

Another major cause of lack of motivation includes low self-esteem. If you fail to believe you can accomplish something or do a good job, why even bother trying at all.

A sufficient method to strengthen your own personal relationship is to honor personal promises. If you break a commitment you make with yourself, try to reduce their size of ambition to more easily meet them in the future.

Success with small actions builds self-esteem and confidence within yourself.

If you fail to have a meaningful goal, your motivation will suffer. Always ensure that whatever goal is set falls in line with what you actually want, and not one that others think you should be doing. Goals must always be simplified, specific, actionable, and divided into smaller tasks.

Look Deep Within

A lack of motivation has the potential to be the result of a symptom.

Perhaps it’s time for a major change in your life. That could mean people around you, your job, or your habits. People often underestimate how such factors affect motivation.

Happiness heavily impacts motivation. Not being happy makes it seem unfathomable to self-motivate. Learn to uncover exactly what is causing you to not be motivated. This could mean something deeper within that demands change.

By following the above steps, you will no longer feel burdened to rely on raw motivation to get things done. The right goals, an actionable plan, helpful change, and proper habits help set you up for action.

For a person in a position of leadership especially, motivation is not as simple as it’s made out to be. Here are five examples of common pitfalls that diminish your efforts when in charge.

Leadership Pitfalls

Self-absorbed or irrational motivation is commonly seen by leaders that believe people need leaders to be motivated to do things.

Of course, the philosophy around “what’s in it for me” is strong, but it fails to motivate people consistently. Words such as me, myself, and I distance a person between themselves and a cause.

Strong motivators comprehend this difficult endeavor and know it’s critical to get the most out of their subordinates. People just want to feel as if they are a part of what they are supposed to do. When there is a disconnect from the cause, performance and motivation lag behind as a result.

Use of coercion and fear are used to threaten people’s job security or provide them with tough love under the belief it will motivate them.

This never works and in fact scares them to death to the point where they will be motivated to make a change that doesn’t fall in line with what you personally want. Often, this means finding a new job.

Inconsistency is the result of changing your mind on the day. Modern communication technology leads us to the belief that actions should create instant results. For the most part, this is simply not true.

Unrealistic expectations: This is the inevitable outcome of underestimating the intelligence of other people by imposing unfounded assumptions. Often, it’s a subconscious or even subtle thing that is offensive and obtuse.

Nevertheless, people are usually able to see when a goal is actually attainable. Even when offering unbelievable incentives for someone to do something, it’s demotivating and demeaning when the person assigned to something sees a goal as impossible.

People only see realistic goals when they have a leader who is committed to the support necessary to attain them.

Irrelevant: Personal uniqueness is a major factor in motivation. While each person is different, everyone is motivated by different variables.

Empathy is a crucial key to leadership, as understanding people is exactly what is necessary to motivate them. Although it’s not easy to brand motivational strategies or incentives for everyone, you must consider the things that make a person tick.

Take time away from each day to reflect on how a leader must motivate people. Do they bring out the best, or do they use tactics that completely fail.

Being able to inspire and motivate is the key ingredient to achieving virtually anything in life. The way you go about makes all the difference to the world.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Two primary categories of motivation exist, including intrinsic and extrinsic.

The former is in relation to self-motivation, the type of pep talk we give ourselves to provide a reason to achieve goals. The latter is in relation to outward motivation.

When relating to running, intrinsic motivation could be observed as waking up and believing you should go for a run. Conversely, extrinsic motivation could be observed as running because a bear makes its way to you.

Avoiding being eaten by the bear is a crucial motivating force to go running, where the outward motivation is that the consequence of the reward pushes you to take action.

Although it may be fascinating to consider the implications surrounding whether something should exist, we should be able to observe how motivation is meaningless by itself.

All the world’s motivation will fail to work if it means pushing you further towards a goal. Instead, the action is all that matters. Taking action following motivation.

Doing something simple towards the goal of cleaning could mean simply vacuuming the carpet. Rather than getting exhausted, you are immensely motivated to go and start organizing the closet.

Successful people tap into this idea, by simply doing things. This leads to more things and soon greater things.

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