Forget about motivation: Develop habits instead.

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You could love what you are working on— a true passion project— and still lose motivation half way through it. Why?! Why is life so cruel? Why do we lose motivation even when we are deeply passionate about the work? And, more importantly, how can we continue moving our projects forward without it?

Let’s break this down. I think we all understand the concept of being motivated, but where does motivation stem from? Is motivation an emotion? A feeling? What? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, motivation is the “condition” of being eager to act or work; a force or influence that causes someone to do something. PositivePsychology.com says it is a “condition” inside us that desires a change, either in the self or the environment. I don’t know about you, but I think categorizing motivation as a “condition” makes it sound like an unpleasant medical diagnosis. The second Merriam-Webster definition makes more sense in my mind— a desire to do something.

Okay so now we know what motivation is (more or less), let’s do a little logic exercise then: If motivation is a desire and desires are temporary (for the most part), then motivation is temporary? So it’s not me, it’s a flawed system? I feel better already. Honestly, no matter what the science is, we’ve all experienced it— one minute we’re super motivated and the next, we can’t be bothered to finish the thing we started.

Forget about Motivation

Motivation is the thing that jumpstarts us into taking action, but when it comes to completing the job, we have to forget about motivation and rely on something much harder to break…yup, you guessed it, habits!

If you’ve been here before, you already know my affinity for habit systems and I’ll tell you why. Habits are things that we do automatically. Usually, we don’t have to think about it or put forth much effort to get it done. Once it becomes a habit, it will get itself done and that is why habits are so hard to form and even harder to break!

In theory, habits are easy to form, you just do the thing so many times that it becomes automatic. In practice, doing something that you are no longer motivated to do takes an enormous amount of self-discipline. But again, once it’s a habit, you just do it.

Getting over the Hump

One thing that helps me get over the hump between lack of motivation and habit formation is the knowledge that it is only a temporary discomfort. I know that soon enough, it won’t be the hassle that it is in that moment, providing me both comfort and a little boost of motivation.

Another good exercise is to remind yourself that you CAN do hard things. Often times we don’t dislike hard things as much as we are intimidated by them. In the thick of it the task seems so much more daunting than it did when it was just an idea, causing even more hesitancy and lack of motivation. A little reminder that you CAN do hard things will go a long way.

Last tip is to remember WHY you even started. I probably say this in every blog post about motivation and it’s because it’s too easy to forget why we started in the first place. We get so caught up in the now of the situation that our motives for beginning get lost in the noise. You probably started for a worthwhile reason and it would do you wonders to remind yourself of that reason from time to time.

The Bottom Line

Motivation is the thing that gets us started, but habits will help us finish. It’s that simple. In between motivation and habit formation, you do need to exercise some self-discipline or else you are likely to quit before you ever get the chance to form the habit. The overall message here is to keep moving forward; even if the thing you are working towards never becomes effortless, over time it will become easier.

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Cat Marte is an Entrepreneur + Small Business Coach who helps success driven people launch and grow their small businesses using social media marketing strategies. Book your free introductory call today.

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