Does motivation rev your motor, former procrastinators? It does mine. Does it swing you into action, then carry you all the way through a long, drawn out task that lasts for months, years? Uh, no.
This month we look into what mini habits are and why they work. A mini habit is a very small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day. Force yourself? Yep, let’s deal with motivation and willpower. Lack of clarity on these two can leave us mired in delay.
The posts on mini habits are based on Mini Habits – Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise. He’s shared our tendency to procrastinate, but mini habits helped him break free. His experience and research can help us give steady focus to priorities, dreams, chores.
First, motivation. Motivation is that eager “I want to do this” good feeling that moves us to action. It’s a great bonus when it shows up. The problem comes when we use motivation as a strategy, as the way to get things done.
Motivation is not a suitable strategy for accomplishing goals or forming good habits. Why?
- It’s not consistent. Habit building requires consistent repetition. Accomplishment often requires steady application.
- It’s not reliable because it depends on our emotions and they are unpredictable. Something so fluid is not a good foundation.
- It’s difficult to produce on demand. I can’t talk myself into a desire to do the job. I may not even want to be motivated. (Some say you can change your desire by focusing on the benefits you will receive. I think this is worthwhile, but it doesn’t change my feelings in the now.)
- It sets us up for failure because enthusiasm decreases. We often read this incorrectly. As a behavior becomes habit, we get less enthusiastic about it. That’s because our brains are resisting less and automating more – a good thing for a good habit.
The idea that motivation precedes action can be a deeply held misconception. Feelings and actions do NOT have to match. It is destructive to believe you have to be motivated in order to act. This leads to a limiting and frustrating life.
We can choose better.
In what areas do you see yourself waiting for motivation?