TWO Motivation myths

Motivation comes before you get started

One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes after starting a new behavior, not before. This common misconception is believing that motivation arrives as a result of passively consuming a motivational video on YouTube or reading an inspirational quote. 

There is no doubt that the right video, story, or quote at the right time can have an enormous impact on inspiring yourself. But these experiences only create a release of emotions, like a dream. And like a dream, it’s only a vision until it is written down and action is taken to pursue the dream. An emotional response is what we all ultimately crave, and what drives all behaviors. When we are buying those shoes or favorite foods we are actually buying into the emotion it gives. It is why it’s so hard to give up those cigarettes, cake, or spending habits.

However, active inspiration is a far more powerful motivator. 

Motivation is often the result of an action. Getting started, even in a small way, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum. For example, Newton’s First Law applied to habit formation: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Motivation is what keeps you engaged, not what starts you off. 

It’s the thought of starting that stops most people. This is why even the most inspirational stories cannot get the majority of individuals ‘off the couch’ or make the most straightforward choice toward health. Therefore, the hardest part of working out for overweight or unhealthy people is not getting to the gym, but the decision to commit to a choice. In order to make an everlasting choice you must have accountability. Finding an individual or community with the same goals dramatically increases an individual’s chances of success. Applying one or more of these theories is said to guarantee an individual will achieve progress and remain motivated.

“Just try to do your best!”

Telling someone, or yourself, to “do their best” is believed to be a great motivator – it isn’t. As theoretically, it encourages without putting on too much pressure. 

In reality, and somewhat ironically, it is more-or-less permission to be average. It implies that you’re limited by your best and doesn’t at all involve effort, which has no limits. You’re not here to be an average individual, and you are not in the business of building mediocre teams or getting clientele average results. So why strive for average? Why limit yourself to merely doing your best?

Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, two renowned organizational psychologists, have spent several decades studying the difference between “do your best” goals and their antithesis: specific and challenging goals. 

Evidence from more than 1,000 studies conducted by researchers across the globe shows goals that are specific and challenging result in far superior performance than aiming for “your best.” 

Specific and challenging goals are beneficial because difficult goals cause you to often unconsciously increase your effort, as well as focus and commit to the target with greater persistence.


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