The Hard Fact About Motivation

We are what we repeatedly do. – Aristotle

Motivation increases as we make promises to ourselves and keep them. The size of the promise doesn’t matter. By doing what you said you’d do you’ll empower yourself for future success. You’ll increase the awareness of self-control and licence yourself to accept more responsibility of your life.

When you hold on to your promise you will build integrity and become the person who does what you said you would do. As much as you want motivation to be something that you’ll get from somewhere else, it is already in you. Motivation is not a feeling. It’s an activity that you’ll do.



This can be a bitter pill to knock back. It means that you are responsible for your own actions and therefore motivation. Start treating motivation as a discipline to follow through with the task that you’ve decided or promised to do.

No longer can you wake up in the morning and not do a task because you are not motivated to do so. You have to admit that you don’t have the discipline to do it this very morning.

You have to admit that you don’t have the discipline to do it.

I don’t feel like writing on every single morning. I struggle with the motivation to get started and would rather read a book or do something else that doesn’t require me to rub my creativity knuckle.

As of writing this, I am fighting the urge to take the dog out instead of writing. But I’ve made myself a promise to be a writer, and what do writers do? They show up and write, even when they don’t feel like it. And that’s why I am sitting here writing, while resisting the begging eyes of Bear the Dog.

Neither do I always feel like lifting weights. And for the last six weeks it has been something that I have “had to do” instead of something I’ve been looking forward to each day. But a long time ago I made a deal with myself that I will look after my health and lifting weights is a big part of it. It’s what I do. Whether I always feel like it or not.

And that’s why I will lift again later on today. Besides, I do always feel better after, so there’s that.

Once you let the daily fluctuations in your feelings to drive your behavior, you’ll forever be at the mercy of them

Sure, tasks are more enjoyable when I do enjoy them but I know that if I have the discipline to show up when I don’t feel like it, the tide will eventually turn. It’s happened before and it will happen again. During low “motivation” it’s crucial to stick with it.

Once you let the daily fluctuations in your feelings to drive your behavior, you’ll forever be at the mercy of them. You wave in and out of habits and routines of getting things done. You’ll follow “let’s see what I feel like doing” instead of “this is what I have to get done”. And that’s how you build consistency and get results over time. Not by waiting for the next wave of motivation to rise.



Where most of us of us take a misstep though is that we focus on wrong goals and activities that don’t align with our deeper values. The analogy that the productivity wizard Stephen R. Covey uses in The 7 Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is that you’ll end up climbing the wrong ladder.

It is challenging to climb a ladder that is not something that truly matters to you. So it’s harder to have the discipline to do what you set out to do. And even if you get to the top after all that struggle you don’t get the feeling of fulfillment because the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

And yes, I’ve tried to climb plenty of wrong ladders.

If you’ve been struggling with something lately and have found yourself spinning them wheels, there is a chance that you need to question why you do (or don’t do) the things you do. Because once you have a goal that you truly want to achieve, you will have, not the motivation, but the discipline to do it.

Ok, I am off to take Bear The Dog for a walk.