The Myth We Call Motivation

by The Robert D.

Story sponsored by MediaQuire / @MediaQuire

When we don’t feel like doing something productive, what do we usually tell ourselves?

“Alright, I just need a liiiiiiitlle bit of motivation and then I’ll really get things going.”

 The next time you find yourself saying or thinking this phrase, STOP…and then slap yourself. Why?

Because thinking you need motivation to start working is the biggest lie you can tell yourself when it comes to productivity.

If You’re Serious About Accomplishing Anything, Here’s What You Need to Know About Motivation

 Instead of motivating yourself to get more work done, do this: Increase your productivity, then the motivation will follow.

I always feel most motivated after doing something productive, whether it’s starting a marketing plan for an upcoming book release or organizing the shoes in my closet. Notice that I said after starting the marketing plan and organizing just the shoes in my closet. Both of those are small parts of much larger tasks.

And that’s the key.

You can get a lot of motivation from doing just a little bit of work. But it’s the work that comes first.

How Do I Start Working Without Motivation?

This is the part that can trip you up. We’ve been so conditioned to need motivation to start anything that this has become difficult. The reality is that starting is rarely easy.  Here’s what you do to overcome the difficulty:

  • Give yourself permission to screw up. Don’t fear not getting it right at the beginning. The reality is that so often you must get something wrong before you can get it right. You’re going to have to write that horrible idea for a title down and see it on paper before the good one comes.
  • Realize that starting means you’re half finished. This was something a high school teacher once told me when I was way behind on a big paper that was due. Starting is the hard part. Once it’s over, you’re already halfway to the finish line.
  • Manufacture the motivation. The oldest trick in the book. If you really want to feel motivated, start by acting like you are. The simple belief that you are motivated can work wonders. Manufactured motivation will hold you over until the real stuff arrives (and it will…once you start).

Crappy ideas that don’t work are the electricity needed for “light bulb” moments. So open a fresh Word doc, type a couple lines, and see where they take you. Come up with a couple of subject lines and compare them. Dust the ceiling fan and look at the room from a new perspective while you’re up there. Whatever the project is, just get going.

Motivation rarely finds us; instead, we must find it.

What do you do to motivate and inspire yourself?

Robert D. Smith is the author of 20,000 Days and Counting, a crash course in living life with maximum purpose and intensity. He also writes about personal growth, entrepreneurship, and more at