Motivation is a fascinating concept. It is the single predictor of whether you will do a task or postpone it. When you’re motivated, everything is easy. You’re in the flow. Working on something without caring what others think. Just doing it. Enjoying what you do. Being in the moment. Being motivated is fun. Meanwhile, when you’re not motivated, life is hard. You can’t focus on a single thing. You browse through Instagram. You take a break. You get distracted. Procrastinate a little. Everything feels hard. Starring at the screen, wondering where the last 2 hours went. Motivation can make or break your life. But how do you get motivated?
Many people believe that the only way to be motivated by the work you do is to be passionate about it. We hear so often the mantra of “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. And of course, that sounds wonderful and can be true for truly passionate people, yet it more often than not doesn’t apply to you. Life simply cannot only be made up of things you’re passionate about. Further, finding your passion is hard by itself. Many young people struggle and don’t know what to do. They try many things only to fail shortly after. But does motivation really require passion? I don’t believe so. You can find motivation and joy in anything you do. It just matters how you look at it.
Benjamin Hardy introduces the idea that motivation requires action. Once you start doing something, you naturally get motivated along the way. Of course, passion is important and can be helpful in the process of starting, yet motivation builds through momentum and persistent work. Action drives motivation and motivation drives action.
Alright, motivation doesn’t necessarily require passion but rather action that reinforces motivation. But still for this to work, you need to start doing. Unfortunately, this first step is usually the hardest. It’s much more comfortable to stay in bed and watch your friends on social media than to start doing work. So how can we build motivation to take the first steps?
Motivation requires a clear path. If you don’t see a clear path ahead, it is extra hard for you to do the things you are supposed to do. Chaos is an excuse for inaction. What you need is order and a clear path on how you reach a goal. This literally makes the difference between the people that go out there and chase their wildest goals fuelled by motivation and people that just spend another hour on social media.
Let me give you an example. Two years ago, I dreamed of producing my own music. I sort of knew how to play a few chords on the piano, yet I dreamed of making an own song. I had this quite ambitious goal without knowing where to start. I wrote it down but didn’t do anything with it. Months passed quickly and I always found reasons to not start working on that new song. In the end, how would I tackle such a thing? Too hard. Too complicated. I am not good enough. The result? No song. A few months back, I came across my goal of producing a song again. But this time, I wrote down a plan. A clear path on how I can ultimately produce my own music. I reverse-engineered every step from the final production to how to download an application that allows me to create music. This clear path helped me stay motivated and start taking action. Today, I am just a few days away from releasing my first song. And I attribute that journey entirely to seeing that clear path that resulted in immense motivation for me.
Although it is important to see a clear path in front of you to be motivated, you need to be aware that things rarely go according to plan. You deviate from your plan along the way. And that is okay. It even shows that you are learning in the process and are able to adjust. Nevertheless, you need to see that clear path with milestones in front of you to get motivated. If you don’t see that, you will end up not taking action.
It is amazing to see how the simple exercise of reverse-engineering your goals can change your life. You can go from the place where everything feels hard and boring to the place where you enjoy what you do without questioning yourself. How? By clearly seeing the path you need to take in front of you. By that, you get fuelled by motivation. And motivation, can make a difference.
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