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The Myth of Motivation


The idea of today’s article is absolutely simple: You do not start when you are motivated. You become motivated when you get started. Motivation gets our fire burning, but it is up to us to press start.

Facing the challenge of getting started? Then read on.

Many of us are subscribed to the idea that we need to be “motivated” to have an energetic, optimal beginning. We set ourselves up with the “right mindset”, reciting positive mantras, and getting into the groove through music and motivational clips. These are all well and good, but when these devices are unavailable, or we are at a low point to even pick up to any of these, what then? How do we move forward when there seems to be very little reason to?

Action perpetuates more action. Doing gets us doing more. We are better at taking on physical activities when our heart rate is already up. This is pretty much the same with mental work: our minds will work better when we have warmed it up. Motivation plays it role as gas, and it takes on many forms. But waiting for gas to burn by itself is futile.

The real challenge we face when we say we are not motivated is the lack of will to act, caused by one or more of the following:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of tasks to be accomplished

  2. Fear of failure, or anticipating things could go wrong with no answers for it

  3. Impostor syndrome, or that feeling of inadequacy in your supposed realm of expertise

  4. Perceived lack of challenge or purpose with the work at hand, and

  5. Other self-sabotaging concepts we may have developed internally


These are the elements you need to surpass. Here are some tips on how you pull yourself together despite your present mood or circumstance:

  1. Get physically energized – getting your blood pumping puts your body and brain into a ready-state, like a predator getting primed for a hunt. A few minutes of warm-up stretches, jogging, or jumping jacks will get your blood moving around enough to energize you and get you started. But then, there are times when this act is as hard to initiate as the work itself, so

  2. Push yourself to get going for only ten minutes – this is a simple but effective hack to put you into pace, even if you feel lazy or overwhelmed. Set your mind to do the task for only ten minutes, or get some warm-up activity within that timeframe. Ten minutes is short enough to get something started without getting too committed. This is way better than having nothing at all. However, once you’ve gotten past the first ten minutes, your mind is now easier to convince to undertake another ten minutes. And then maybe another. After half an hour, you’ve got some useful headway to get deeper. But don’t think about that. Focus first on your ten minutes.

  3. Know that there will never be a perfect situation to begin – preparation is a wonderful startup plan. However, one must not be bogged down by creating an optimal situation before starting something. Preparation must only encompass what is immediately required to get things going, and while it would be convenient to anticipate potential challenges, you can never really prepare enough for them since they may vary according to the situation, timing, and uncontrollable scenarios.

  4. Know that there will never be a perfect outcome – regardless of how much effort you put into your work, there will always be room for improvement. This is not a flaw in your project, it simply is the nature of innovation. This should free you from getting overwhelmed. Take note that this is not a case in favor of shabby work. You still need to put in the correct effort and ensure that your output is accurate and functional. But sweating the details based on anticipations is often futile. You are better off getting real-time feedback so you can tweak according to what your audience or clients require. This not only saves you time and effort but gives you exactly the information you need to develop your project better.

We hope you find these tips useful. Whatever your situation is, remember to not worry about your output. Your training will more often catch up on you as soon as you get started. Just take a step forward and give your ten minutes, and true motivation – your purpose, goal, and your natural inclination to see something to completion – will come to you soon enough.

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