Motivation is dangerous

It's been 9 months since I posted an update here. 9 months. I've done loads in that time. Moved house. Learnt lots of new things. Been to lots of new places. Even spent a month in the Caribbean with Team Rubicon to provide Disaster Response in the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

And in all that time I didn't find the motivation to write a post. Why?

Truth number 1

Motivation is built on the premise that you need a specific set of circumstances to be just right, or you need to feel a specific way, in order to undertake a task.

Motivation is lying to you. It's not the force for good you think it is. It won't help you when times get difficult, when routines are disrupted and inconveniences raise bumps in your road.

Instead it's holding you back. It's poisonous fronds claw at your subconscious, whispering in your ear that you 'just need to finish this other thing', 'just set this condition' or 'just buy that item' and you'll be ready to go.

Truth number 2

Motivation is not interest. You can be interested in something and be excited to do it or enthusiastic about it without being motivated.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say motivation doesn't really exist. It's like centrifugal force, it feels real enough, but it's the manifestation of other deeper truths such as centripetal force and inertia.

In a similar way, motivation is not the feeling you get when you enjoy doing something. It's not the satisfaction you get from completing a task, nor starting it, not being half way through and having a great time.

The definition of motivation and enthusiasm are synonymous I'll concede. But knowing the deeper truth, that you are interested in or enthusiastic about or derive enjoyment from doing something - that is the real truth.

And 'motivation' brings with it the baggage of needing a reason for acting in a particular way. A reason to do something.

Consequently, motivation isn't the feeling you should be chasing. You don't need a reason to be doing something. It's enough to want to do it.

And then we come to the real nub of the problem...

Truth number 3

Discipline is how you will achieve your goals, particularly when the path to achieve them is difficult.

Motivation is the enemy of achievement. Chasing the perfect reason to do something will never be sustainable.

Conditions change. Interests wax and wane. Enthusiasm falters. You change. And through it all discipline is the gossamer thread that connects each step of the journey to achievement.

Discipline is your friend.

Discipline keeps you going despite the inevitability of change.

Discipline keeps you going through unpleasantness.

It is discipline that will get you up on in the early hours to do that run in the freezing morning air. It is discipline that will let you grind out hour after hour of difficult work as you chase the goals that you set yourself.

Only discipline - not motivation, not enthusiasm, not desire, not interest - only discipline is the sustainable path to achievement.

There's a reason 'hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard' and that reason is discipline.

A personal promise to myself

I've always known the danger of motivation. Particularly this year (this post has been a long time coming). I'm sure most of us have similar experiences actually. But I've allowed myself to hide behind it's escapism. Well, no longer.

This won't just be 2018's New Year's Resolution, this will be a sea change in my world view.

To become what you can be you must know thyself, and I know I must find discipline, not motivation, to truly realise the goals I set myself.

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