You have no purpose.
Everything you do is insignificant.
Success habits don’t exist.
Damn … sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Well those are the titles of 3 of my most popular YouTube videos. And despite seeming harsh, they are some of the most motivational messages I can share.
Traditional Forms of Motivation Does NOT Work
Let’s start by explaining what motivation actually is. Motivation is the reason or reasons one has to act in a particular way. So you could have motivation to workout because you want to lose weight, or you could have motivation to plagiarize an essay because you want a good grade in school.
I think the most popular forms of positive motivation include phrases like “you’re amazing”, “you can do anything”, and… “make this the year of you” 😉
Now although these phrases are completely true, they might not be ideal for prompting you to take action. So that said, the first reason you do not need traditional forms of motivation is …
#1 It is Sugar-Coated
As you read in the 3 statements above, traditional motivation is often sugar-coated. And the reason I noticed this is because I realized a handful of motivational speakers have actually begun sharing unconventional motivation to grab people’s attention.
Now it is important to clarify that depending on which stage of the personal growth loop you are in, the sugar coated truth might be exactly what you need, or the harsh truth might vibe with you more. So depending on whether you’re in the self-care, self-development, or self-discipline stage, you’ll need to different forms of motivation to get you to take action.
For example, if you are in the self-care stage you might feel vulnerable to negativity and need to get your better prepped for challenges ahead. So in this stage, you’ll likely need more sugar-coated motivation in order to start believing in yourself. Think about it like this, if you were a car, the self-care stage is like adding gasoline to your gas tank. It is the first basic step that fills you up with positivity so you can start driving. That bring us to the next step …
In the self-development stage you are ready to start your car engine and (little-by-little) begin taking-on life challenges. In this stage, as you build your mental fortitude, you’ll slowly but surely weed-out all the sugar-coated motivation until truth alone is what propels you into action.
And then once you get used to taking action and improving your mental endurance, you enter the self-discipline stage. In this stage you do things simply because you know you should. For example, you eat healthy because you know you should if you want to lean-out and remain at a healthy weight, you work out because you know you should if you want to keep a high level of energy and good cardiovascular health. In this stage you are ready to hear the full truth even though it might be harsh. You can think a bit more analytically about why unpopular opinions like “you have no identity” might be the most motivational for you. In the self-discipline stage, you have likely found intrinsic motivation to keep going and no longer need sugar-coated prompts. If you were a car, this is like driving past the McDonald’s on the side of the street because you know you don’t need to eat french fries as you continue along home.
That leads me to the second reason you might not need traditional motivation in your life, and that is because …
#2 It only supplies you with extrinsic motivation
Always relying on traditional messages of motivation will keep you from reasoning about what you truly want to achieve and what actions you truly want to take. You only allow yourself to become motivation by extrinsic motivation supplied in short-term burts, rather than finding long-term intrinsic motivation specific to your goals.
Extrinsic motivation works by supplying you with rewards external to your goal. For example, you want to get a 100% in a course simply because you want to add “Dean’s List” or “Honour Roll” to your resume.
Intrinsic motivation is when your behaviour or the goal itself personally rewarding. For example, you take a course in school because you enjoy the subject matter and love studying it.
Intrinsic motivation is best for sticking out long-term effort because it does not require you to be motivated by your circumstances. Rather, you are motivated by the work itself. To find intrinsic motivation, I recommend you listen to the messages that encourage you to change your mindset first, rather than changing your actions first by relying on a particular product or service. If you want to know more about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, I talk all about it in episode 2 of straight outta the jar, and you can watch that video by clicking here.
Now the third reason you might not need traditional forms of motivation is because…
#3 They are not specific enough
It is very easy for us to talk ourselves out of completing goals. I mean how many mornings have you woken up and said “I’m going to eat healthy”, and then you get to the end of your day, crave a cookie and say “I’ll start that diet on Monday”? You see, if we are trying to motivate ourselves to do something, that motivation needs to be strong enough for us to take action and specific enough that we can’t find away to make excuses for not taking action.
You can think of creating specific and strong motivation like creating an air-tight alibi. Say your roommate comes home one day and notices all the cookies are missing from the cookie jar. If you did’t eat the cookies and don’t want to get blamed, you’re going to need an air-tight alibi. If there are gaps in your story, your roommate is going to call you out.
Similarly, if your motivation is not air-tight, you’ll be able to find gaps that allow you to make excuses to not take action. The more specific and therefore realistic you get with your motivation, the more rewarding your actions will be.
I often find traditional forms of motivation use the goal itself as the extrinsic motivation/reward. For example if you want to lose weight, the popular way for you to motivate yourself is to use the goal of “lose weight” as the reward as well. That is a really general reward so it will be easy for you to make excuses to not put in the work to lose weight. Think of it like trying to build a house without a blueprint – you need a detailed plan in order to be successful.
So what I want you to do instead is create a whole new type of reward that has nothing to do with your goal and make it specific and realistic enough for you to actually want to take action. For example, if you want to lose weight, you have to start by making a more specific goal. Maybe that means losing 8 pounds of fat over the next 10 weeks. Then you can get even more specific by saying you have a goal of eating at least 1 salad a day and working out 3x a week. (You can keep going in this manner until your goals become specific and reasonable enough for you to complete). Next, you need to make a reward for losing 8 pounds. Maybe that is getting through your day without taking a nap, seeing as exercise allows your body to create more energy at the cellular level.
There’s no One Size Fits All …
So please remember that just like goals, motivation comes in all shapes in sizes, so find the right type of motivation that fits you.
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.