Many people feel they would achieve more of their goals if they could only stay motivated long enough to work on them. Motivation, they say, is that silent factor that determines how productive they are. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it is easy to procrastinate on important tasks because you are waiting to feel motivated. A classic example of this fallacy is the all popular “writer’s block.” The thinking goes, the most successful writers are able to somehow find inspiration all the time and that is why they are able to churn great works of literature. The truth is successful writers are successful because they do not wait for their muse to tickle them. They wake up everyday and commit to writing for a few hours even if what they turn out is trash.
Motivation is not a destination that one arrives at. Instead, it is a journey that never quite seems to end. There will be good and bad days. There will be mornings when you don’t feel like putting in the work. What separates the productive from the mediocre is that the productive can be relied upon to keep doing the work even when motivation remains elusive. To achieve your goals, you have to be able to commit to working on tasks even on days when you don’t feel like it. It’s easy to do the work when things are going well. It’s what you do when they are not that matters.
I acknowledge that motivation can keep you going when things are tough but it is a mistake to rely on external motivation to get any goal achieved. The best forms of motivation come from within. Write a novel because you want to not because your friends all say you are a good writer whose story would be inspiring. Ask yourself “why” until you are convinced the project is something you chose to do for yourself and not to satisfy someone else. Otherwise, you will find yourself with many incomplete projects. It’s easy to start a new one. What is truly challenging is to keep doing it consistently until you achieve results.
The next time you find yourself slowing down and feel tempted to blame it on lack of motivation. Ask yourself what made you start in the first place. If you cannot find a good reason within, perhaps you set yourself up for failure by prioritising the wrong things.