The Illusion of Motivation
We have this word for a certain kind of excitement which we feel for a few seconds here and there. It often seems connected to subsequently performing some action or behavior. We call that “motivation.”
I hear about it a lot in the fitness industry. People talk about getting motivated, staying motivated, losing motivation. There are motivational speakers and motivations speeches. Although, if you examine the people who’ve listened to some of the best speeches, on average they’re entirely unchanged 5 years later.
The thing is, I don’t know if I buy it. The greatest accomplishments in history are generally borne out of a pretty demotivated and defeated feeling. The greatest successes I’ve ever had, known, seen, or heard of, grew out of the depths, not the heights.
So seeking “motivation” as an explanatory tool or a catalytic starter hits me as illusory. People have purpose, or they don’t. People are honest with themselves, or they aren’t. Purpose and honesty supersede "motivation." The most wonderful achievements occur precisely when there is no motivation, when someone grinds through the mud with purpose, keeps his word when it's almost impossible to do so and when he doesn't want to.
People trend toward the familiar, the same patterns, thoughts, behaviors. If we always trend toward the familiar, how does motivation really fit philosophically? It's just this flitting emotion. That little flit of nothingness cannot overcome obstacles. Purpose and honesty DO. Motivation CAN'T.
Moreover, how can we honestly believe "motivation" should play a role in the pretext of our efforts or the explanation for our downfall? If you closely examine the motivators in your life, the greatest number and loudest signals of motivation are pushing you in the opposite direction from where you want to go. So why in the hell would you latch your success in life, your capacity to follow-through, to some airy gossamer make-believe momentary high? Your primary motivations are convenience, familiarity, ego-substantiation, and self-identity reinforcement. They always were. They always will be. Those are your motivators. They don't have anything to do with change. Some new millisecond of another "motivation" isn't sufficient to climb the wall over these permanent motivators. Motivation isn't connected to change. Motivation is tied into the definition of staying the same.
We already know whatever this made-up thing is, this “motivation,” that the most real and palpable it ever will be is temporary. Does that make it reliable? Does that make it important? Does the fact that it comes and goes make it a smart investment tool?
Really, I don’t care about motivation. The most motivated you ever felt didn’t stay. The most motivated you’ll ever get will vanish. Find something real, something steady, something bigger.
Or get stuck in the illusion.
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