Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Motivation isn’t the answer - but it also isn’t the enemy
I’m sure I’ll talk shit about motivation many, many times as I teach you how to change your life. After all, the first lesson you’ll need to learn is that motivation is unreliable. However, motivation is still incredibly important. Motivation will help you build discipline. Sure, with enough practice, you can build enough discipline to accomplish things you absolutely do not want to do. But that’s not what we’re doing right now.
This is the very beginning. You have a goal. Maybe you want to run a 10k, or keep your apartment clean 95% of the time, or eat two servings of vegetables at every meal. Whatever it is, it’s time to find your Why.
Why do you want to run a 10k? Maybe it’s because you want to be in good shape. Why do you want to be in good shape? Maybe it’s because you’re tired of being out of breath after climbing the stairs and you’d like to go on hikes with your friends. Good. Keep going. Keep asking yourself “Why?” until you figure out all of the reasons you’ve set the goal you set.
Let’s practice one more time. You’ve set a goal to keep your room clean. Why do you want your room to be clean? Because having a clean space allows you to think more clearly and prevents you from tripping over random crap on the floor when you wake up at 3 am to pee. Why do you want to think more clearly? Because you currently feel mentally overwhelmed and worried all the time, and it’s hard to live your best life when you can’t think. Why do you want to avoid tripping on things at 3 am? Because the noise wakes up your sleeping husband, and he’s done nothing to deserve being woken up by you yelling in pain in the middle of the night. You get the idea.
Typically, many of your “Why?”s will more or less come down to, “it makes me happy”. This is fine, as long as you accept and embrace, fully, from the bottom of your heart, that you are deserving of happiness and will not let anything stand in the way of your happiness. That’s a whole other issue that we can tackle later.
Now you have your why. So what do you do with it? Embrace it. Live it. Love it. Think about it. Meditate on it. Create a dream board about it. Think about it while you’re stuck in traffic on your way to work. Become excited about it. Become so excited about it that you can’t help but think about it all the damn time.
Remember when you were thirteen and had a crush on that person in your history class? They were the sole focus of your thoughts day in and day out for weeks. That’s how you should feel about your why. Your goal is to lose fifteen pounds? Think about the future fifteen pound lighter you. Become obsessed with that person. Fall in love with them. Think about that person so much that you become so excited about being that person that you can’t think about anything else. Think about how well your clothes will fit, how much easier it will be to play with your dog, how great it will feel to take the stairs to your forth floor apartment without feeling winded.
Good. Now you’re motivated. Remember this feeling. Write down your why. When you’re feeling low or things are hard, come back to your why. It will give you that brief ten second hit of motivation that you’ll need to kick your discipline into gear. This Why isn’t what keeps you going four miles into that five mile run. That’s discipline. This Why is just what gets you to set your 5:30 alarm the night before.
This Why isn’t what has you working at your side hustle that you’d love to turn into a full time job at 1 a.m., this Why is just the reason you decided you’re going to grow your side hustle into something that can support you and let you leave your dreaded 9-5. This Why isn’t what keeps you from eating the donuts your boss brought, it’s what made you decide two months ago that high-calorie treats at work aren’t worth it, and now you’re just riding the discipline wave.
Your task for today is to determine your Why and know and embrace that the steps you’ll begin taking are going to eventually get you to that Why. Marinate yourself in your Why. Dream about it, literally, if you can. Go have fun thinking about how great your future life is going to be after you’ve developed the discipline to get yourself there, and get hyped up to take the first step.