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A Matter of Perspective

Motivation is garbage

I was listening to a podcast this morning by Mel Robbins. She said something that was interesting to me. She said, “Motivation is garbage.”

Hmm...I tried to wrap my head around the statement.

I rolled it around in my mind. “Motivation is garbage.”

Like Robbins, I looked up what motivation means.

The first definition was, “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.”

In a similar vein, “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

If we follow this line of thought, then we all have motivation to some extent. We go to the fridge to get something to eat because we are motivated by hunger to do so.

Motivation will undoubtedly get us through the “normal” parts of life.

But why does Robbins say it is garbage?

“At some point we all bought into this lie that you have to feel ready, to change. We all bought into this falsehood that at some point you will have the courage. At some point, you will have confidence. It’s total BS. It’s garbage. You may have these incredible ideas and what you think is missing is motivation. And that’s not true. The fact about the way our brains are wired, the fact about us as human beings is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable or scary or difficult. Our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are trying to keep us alive,” said Robbins.

She went on to say that in order to be the best version of ourselves: the best parent, the best partner, to build a business or whatever it is that we want to do, we are going to have to do things that are uncomfortable, uncertain or scary “which sets up this problem for all of us. You’re never going to feel like it. Motivation is garbage. You only feel motivated to do the things that are easy.”

Robbins can speak with authority on this topic. She has spent years trying to answer questions like, “Why is it so hard to do the little things in life?”

It is because, she says, “Our minds are designed to stop you—at any cost—from things that will hurt you.”

She said it all starts with a habit of hesitating. We all have this habit.

“You’re in a meeting and you have this incredible idea and instead of just saying it, you stop. You hesitate. And what none of us realize, when you hesitate for that moment—that micro-moment—that small hesitation sends a stress signal to your brain,” she began.

She went on to say that the stress signal wakes your brain up. It begins to question, “Why did she hesitate? She didn’t hesitate a moment ago...something must be up.”

So then your brain goes to work to protect you. It has a million ways to protect you, noted Robbins.

She said one way is called the “spotlight effect.” Your brain magnifies something so that you will pull away from the thing that it perceives to be a problem. She added that you could trace every problem in your life to hesitation.

“Those are decisions,” she said.

What changed her life and it can change ours, too?

Robbins said she now wakes up in the morning and reminds herself that motivation is garbage and that she is never going to feel like doing things that are scary, uncertain, or new and so she needs to stop waiting until she feels like it. Because let’s face it, that moment will never come.

The second thing she does is remind herself that she is one decision away from a totally different marriage, a totally different life, a totally different job, a totally different income.

Learn how to take control of those moments and decisions. If you can do that, you will change everything.

Who is ready to boot motivation out the window and make some decisions that will change everything?

I know I am.


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