After trying dozens of methods that claimed to help boost productive mojo, I came to the conclusion that motivation is my own personal Bigfoot. It may or may not be out there, but I probably won’t be gathering proof of its existence any time soon. In a sense, I’ve stopped believing.
Today I’ve collected some common myths and misconceptions about motivation for your consideration. Whether you’re a firm believer or a fellow skeptic, I hope they prove helpful as you venture ambitiously forward with your own projects and goals.
Myth No. 1: You need motivation to get stuff done.
Motivation, simply put, is the desire to do something. We’re more likely to repeat a behavior if it gives us a sense of satisfaction, if we place a lot of value in the action, or if we’re rewarded in some way.
Being self-motivated is generally seen as an excellent—even necessary—quality. The secret something needed to cement our intention and make those goals happen. If we can unlock the secrets behind our innate motive, maybe we’d have that tireless, passionate energy that hurls us toward the finish line.
My Findings: Discipline gets stuff done.
Discipline is the ability to control or regulate ourselves. It’s a tool which teaches us to behave as we should, even if it’s not immediately satisfying, highly-valued, or rewarding. With regular practice, self-discipline gives us boundaries and habits that keep our actions fixed and focused.
Where motivation is enigmatic and ever-changing, discipline is a constant. While it may be harder to fall in love with disciplined habits at first, the long-term benefits are well worth a little self-sacrifice and stubborn effort. When our inspiration dries up or it becomes difficult to stay on task, discipline holds us to a standard and ensures we’re making consistent progress instead of riding the highs and lows of our current mood.
Myth No. 2: Passionate people are more motivated
It’s impossible to miss the people who are powered by an all-consuming love for what they do. It’s an attractive and even enviable trait. But using passion as the go-to measurement of investment or likelihood of success is more likely to fuel resentment than productivity.
Everyone is motivated differently. Passion is a powerful variety, but it’s not the only type. If you’re feeling guilty or judged for being less head-over-heels-in-love with your work than the person to your left, try to dig a little deeper into your own psyche. Earning a steady income, receiving recognition or opportunities, attaining new skills—these are equally valid reasons to work hard, dream big, and aim for success.
My Findings: Your reasons are your own business
We each have different and multi-layered reasons behind our decisions, habits, and goals. Getting too hung up on whether our motives are acceptable to others or matching up with those of our peers doesn’t help you get where you’re headed any faster. In the famous words of my mother; mind your own business.
The more time you spend asking yourself what needs to be done, the easier it is to stick to what feels natural, honest, and fulfilling. It’s not about being self-centered or egotistical. It’s about being responsible for yourself and your actions. Rather than seeking outward approval or direction, learn how to make autonomous decisions and watch out for your own best interest. This is your life, after all!
Myth No. 3: Motivation makes for better results
Many of us are prone to believing that enjoyment equals quality workmanship. If an off-day means less-than-spectacular results, the pressure is on to find something that gets you into a carefree, good-vibes-only zone. Because if you’re not loving the work, it’s not worth the effort. Right?
It may seem like you’re doing yourself a favor, but letting your output be dictated by mood and muse becomes self-defeating all too quickly. Like it or not, we all need healthy workplace habits. Otherwise, you’re going to have a lot of wishful ideas and nothing to show for them.
My Findings: Practice makes for better results
Skill is what allows us to do good work. And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a prodigy to attain skills that pay the bills. A little hard work, curiosity, and willingness to put in effort will earn you experience, confidence, and eventually expertise.
Think of the tough days as part of your training montage. Every difficulty you face is adding to your experience. Every failed attempt is a lesson learned. Growing and learning comes with its headaches and hiccups, so don’t cheat yourself out of the opportunity to learn something new just because it didn’t come naturally, ended up being harder than you estimated, or made you feel vulnerable.
Are you a believer in motivation? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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