“Don’t rely on motivation for anything. It is fleeting and unreliable.” - Unknown
You’re sitting at home, browsing Netflix for the thousandth time in the search for something to binge on the weekend. Letting out a sigh, your eye suddenly catches a motivational video.
Flicking it on, the story unfolds and the character hits you right in the gut. The swelling music flows into your ears and rumbles something deep within you.
“Holy shit,” you think, “that’s what I needed, let’s go!”
*cue training montage*
Fast forward a few days and your life is completely different. The motivational spark turned into a fire, and that fire is burning through all your excuses and barriers to success.
The blaze rages, and you go on to become a juggernaut of your field. Undisputed and unfaltering, you are the champion of the world.
Same Netflix binge, same motivational spark, same “Holy shit!” moment, but sooner or later the fire goes out.
Whether it’s one obstacle too many or the fire simply runs out of fuel, the motivation will flicker and fade. Your resolve crumbles and the hill gets that much steeper to climb.
What happened to us? We had such dreams and desire, where did the motivation go? How do some people hold onto it for longer than others?
Motivation is a feeling, not a lightning bolt or a candle in the dark. It comes and goes as it pleases, and rarely when we want it or need it most.
It can be conjured up momentarily by thinking about emotional things (thinking about the deep WHY you’re doing something) or hearing passionate words and music, but that doesn’t mean it will stay any longer than anything else.
So how do some people stay motivated, for weeks, months and years on end? Do they have an endless supply of motivational videos and speeches?
No. They have something more powerful.
It’s the discipline to do what needs to be done, regardless of how you feel; it’s the conviction to stick to the plan, regardless of what others are doing.
It’s not as sexy or as glamorous as motivation; it’s dull and by the numbers.
It doesn’t come with a warm fuzzy feeling, it’s steely and cold.
It doesn’t care about how you’re feeling; it’s ready to go.
Instead of waiting for the right feeling to embark on today, it’s already switched on. Rain, shine, sleet or snow, it doesn’t care.
Many out there will skip the work because they “just don’t feel like it today”, not realising they’ve sacrificed getting a step closer to their goal. Instead of waiting for the right feeling, driven individuals will get after it, regardless of mood or “motivation levels”.
They’ll hit the same obstacles and bumps in the road as the rest of us, but with enough drive they’ll stay on the path - finding a way forward amidst the fog and patches of doubt.
Without a care in the world about how bright the fire is within.
HOW TO BUILD DRIVE
It begins with a decision: what do I need to do.
It’s doesn’t have to be a big thing, even a small step will suffice. Once you know what you need to do, do it.
Don’t wait for the “right time” or to feel ready, just do it.
When you’re out in the cold or feeling weariness set in at the gym, look at your plan and take the next step forward. Ignore the nagging voice on your shoulder and focus on the plan.
All we need is a clear head to make the choice, and the self discipline to follow through.
We can change the plan if needs be, but do we really need to change it or do we just want to do something easier? That’s where the clear head comes in. If our head doesn’t feel clear, than it’s perfectly fine to ask for help or advice.
What about self discipline? How do we get that?
We already have it. It’s in each choice we make, and each action we perform. The harder ones require more self discipline, sure, but that doesn’t make them impossible. We just don’t feel like exercising it because we know it’s a rough path to take.
When it comes to decisions like these, the comfortable path vs the hard one, you need to be completely in the moment and ask yourself “is this getting me closer to my goal?”
If you’re not in the moment, you might be tempted to say “I’ve already worked so hard this week, I deserve a break this one time” (thinking about the past) or “I’ve still got so far to go and I’m already tired, what’s the point?” (thinking about the future). If you’re in the moment you can say to yourself “I’m still breathing, I can take another step. I can get back up”.
Seriously, it’s ok to break it down as far as possible, into individual movements if necessary. Be focused on putting one foot in front of the other until you reach the end, write down one sentence after the other until you’ve finished that project, making each move with purpose.
That’s how you build self discipline - by practicing it.
Identify what you need to do, and DO IT.
FORGED BY FIRE, TEMPERED BY ICE
That’s not to say motivation doesn’t have it’s place - we’re emotional beings and almost everything we do has some kind of feeling or emotion behind it. If you can identify the deep WHY behind why you’re doing something then it make it much easier to stick to the process.
What I’m trying to get at is it’s still just a feeling, so if you become reliant solely on motivation you’ll be missing out on the much more powerful drive within you on the days the motivation is lacking or your feelings are directed elsewhere.
However, if you can combine the two - the fire of motivation and the ice of drive - then you’ll be ready to conquer damn near anything that stands before you.
So go DO IT.