Motivation is powerful.
It peps us up to step outside our comfort zone and take action.
This single tool/process has fueled a billion-dollar industry. Books, courses, blog posts, videos, seminars, podcasts… we consume them all in the hope that we can build enough motivation to fulfill our dreams.
Yet most end up back at square one within a few weeks. Why?
One reason is that motivation doesn’t tell us what we need to do. As we wonder what the next step should be, or conduct extensive research, motivation runs out and we give up.
Another reason is that motivation makes us feel like children on a sugar rush. Brimming with enthusiasm, we try something — anything — that we think might work. But when the outcomes are not even close to what we envisioned, we feel disheartened and give up.
Thirdly, we wait for motivation to arrive before we begin to work. The wait becomes so prolonged that when we return to the task, we have to start from scratch. And we give up.
In each instance, we feel motivated in the beginning but end up feeling like crap. Negative self-talk like “I don’t have what it takes,” “I’m good for nothing,” follows, and our self-image takes a thrashing.
Motivation is powerful but complex. It can confuse us and make our anxiety levels skyrocket. It can lead us down the wrong rabbit hole. It’s unpredictable; it can go missing when we want to work and show up when we’re unprepared.
To succeed in the long term, you need something simpler.
A Simple Hack to Succeed
Author James Clear confessed to Todd Henry, another successful author, that his best work came when he felt motivated, when he felt a spark of creativity every now and then.
Henry replied that he too wrote when motivated. He just got motivated every day at 8 AM.
In other words, Todd Henry was clear on what he had to do to achieve his goals.
More than motivation, human beings crave clarity. Knowing what we should do relaxes us, pushes us towards action and makes our lives predictable.
Look at it this way.
Motivation will make you step out in a blizzard. But you’ll quickly wonder what you were thinking and curse your stars for getting stuck in a mess.
But clarity will help you identify why you need to step out in the blizzard and equip you with what you need to navigate through the blizzard and reach your destination.
Motivation can make you like a dog chasing cars. You won’t know what to do if you catch one. Clarity will show you what the next step should be and give you the courage to take it.
If you want clarity on important aspects in your life, follow a simple five-step process:
- Write down what distracts, bugs, or interests you at this moment.
- Write down what the outcome will look like in one sentence.
- Ask yourself, “What’s the next step I can take to get closer to my goal?”
- Act on it.
- Go back to step 3.
Want to write a book? Don’t fret over its title, cover, or the number of pages. Simply identify three ideas for it. Then move to the next step.
Worried that you’re not making enough money? Unless someone rich dies tomorrow and leaves you a fortune, you won’t get rich overnight. Plus, that money will take months to clear because of legal procedures and litigations.
Instead, just update your resume and send out applications for a new job. If you’re an entrepreneur, start identifying and engaging with prospects.
Want to hit the gym? It’s tough to get motivated while vegging out on your sofa watching Netflix. Just put on your training shoes and get out the front door. Your body and mind will automatically do the rest.
Clarity in thought and action will enable you to work without motivation. And strangely, it can motivate you after you finish the task.
For instance, when I do what’s important despite not feeling like it, I feel good just for showing up even if the results are mediocre. And if the results are better than I expected, it does my self-esteem a world of good.
Stop waiting around for motivation to strike like lightning. Figure out the next step and take it. The road and destination will reveal themselves.