Monthly Method

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A listener asked, "What is your opinion about motivation? Is it helpful or is it just temporary?" Here is what I think about motivation.

Corresponding blog posts with all the links: https://monthlymethod.com/motivation/
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Timestamps:
00:00 - Intro
00:51 - It's a trend
01:55 - Fact vs. Fiction Analysis
04:15 - Unrealistic expectations
05:43 - Not your goals
07:00 - Motivation is not even the best emotion to go after
09:35 - Ask better questions
10:50 - Test your hypothesis
12:46 - Conclusion & Recommendations

Show Notes

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What is Monthly Method?

Monthly Method Podcast is a show for solopreneurs, creators, and artists who have a burning desire to launch a project. The project your best life depends on.
Your host, Polina Bee, is a certified SCRUM master. She brings a proven record of launching successful projects, both professional and personal.
You will hear about tested techniques that lead to calm, consistency and results.

Subscribe to turn your idea into reality one month at a time.

I've received a question from one of my listeners. The question is, what is your opinion about motivation? Is it helpful or is it just temporary? Okay. Let's hear on my rant about motivation. Let's go.

The question here is whether motivation is helpful or just temporary. I think it's definitely helpful. It is temporary but my overall opinion is that the importance of motivation is highly overrated. It's kind of like a trend that is so popular right now.

It didn't use to be popular before. I don't think it will stick around for long. It's just the trend on that will pass, hopefully and we'll go back to normal.

Sure, let's look at motivation and unpack it. First of all, I like to kind of start with the fact versus fiction analysis. Put on my scientist hat and look at some of the statements that are so commonly accepted or the statements that we keep telling ourselves on a daily basis. Probably, if you're asking about motivation, then you have statements such as in order to do X, I need to feel motivated or in order to have a good day, I need to feel motivated. In order to do hard things, I need to feel motivated.

These are just opinions. They're not facts. If you use scientific approach and testing the statements, they will quickly fall apart. For example, if you'll look at the statement, I need to feel motivated to do hard things, let me ask you, are you doing any hard things on a consistent basis without having to feel motivated?

Well, probably you go to work not the easiest thing to do every day, but you still get up and you go to work. You drop off your kids at school even if it's raining, even if it's cold, even if you don't want to go outside, even if it's hard, you still go out and drop your kids off at school. Do you cook dinner probably even when you don't feel like it?

A lot of these things are hard at times, and these are just common everyday examples. I'm sure a lot of you are doing much harder things. If you finished university, I'm sure there were times where you had to do hard things, where you had to write that essay, where you had to do that homework even if you didn't feel motivated, but you still did it.

So, the statement that you have to feel motivated in order to do hard things is false. I suggest that you find a bunch of examples from your own life where you've done things that are hard even if you didn't feel motivated. I'm sure you do a lot of these things on a daily basis.

Whatever thoughts you have about the necessity of motivation, just go through the same approach and like test them assessing a scientific hypothesis. If it was a fact, then it would have been applicable to every single situation in your life. But you know that it's not. You're doing a bunch of things without having to feel motivated.

Another thing I want to say about motivation is that if you find yourself that for whatever goals you set for yourself, you have to feel motivated in order to get them done. Then, probably the quantity of the effort that you're aiming for is unrealistic. And it's too high.

And I have an entire episode on this called " Stop having this Flawed Assumption when Setting Goals". So basically, long story short, a lot of us when we set goals, we kind of have this assumption that every day we'll get up and be inspired to just go and do incredible things. But if we remove this assumption and set goals with the assumption that, hey, most likely it we'll feel like crap and we're not going to feel like doing this activity.

How can we adjust our goals with this new assumption? With the assumption that you will not feel motivated on a daily basis? Yeah, try it out, I think it's much safer and more effective approach of setting goals is just changing this underlying assumption.

Go listen to my episode on this topic, I talk more about it. I give some nice examples. Definitely check it out.

Another reason why you might feel like you have to feel motivated in order to do certain things is because you are trying to do things that you think you should do. There are a lot of "shoulds" in our lives that are being imposed on us by society, by our upbringing, by the culture, by the companies that we work for.

Some are even unconscious. We don't really realize it that they're being imposed on us. And when we have this internal resistance towards doing some of the goals that we set for ourselves, I offer you to check where this goal comes from because maybe it might be the goal that I don't know your parents want you to do, or your workplace but it's not actually your idea. It didn't really come from a deep inner state of curiosity, desire or interest or any of that.

The lack of motivation can be just a sign that this goal is not really yours that it's been imposed on you. And that maybe you should actually say no.

Another idea that they had in mind when I was brainstorming this episode is that motivation is an emotion. It's trendy right now. It's in hot demand. Of course it feels nice. It's like the first cup of coffee in the morning and it gives you this boost and it feels nice. No questions there but in terms of consistency, I hope we can all agree that consistency is actually what you need in your life for your productivity, goal setting and actually sustainable growth. So, if you look at consistency and what emotion is more likely to cause consistency, it turns out that motivation is not that emotion. I feel like when you're being content, when you're being calm, when you're being at peace with yourself and with the world. Those are the emotions that are like a very nurturing soil for the consistency to grow.

Motivation is like this rollercoaster with very high highs and very low lows. It's not really a reliable emotion to have if you want to do something of a consistent basis. At any given day, I would actually prefer the emotions of being calm, focused, peaceful than the emotion of motivation because from my personal experience, I find that when my mind is calm, I can actually get a lot more things done. I can think deeper into some issues. I can think a few steps ahead. I can be patient.

These are not the things that you necessarily have when you feel motivated especially patience. For me, when I feel motivated, I'm very impatient and for a lot of projects it's not a very good sign. And also I feel like sometimes it can be very short-sighted. So, I can't see a big picture when I'm impatient and highly motivated. And this like, get a done mentality.

Surely, is a great emotion but there are a much better emotions that you should go after when you're looking to be in a state of being that is more effective for being consistent and showing up for your goals, for your schedule, for all the things that you want to get done.

Now let's look at the questions. I feel like when people are obsessed with feeling motivated, the quality of the questions that they ask themselves are not the best. If you rely a lot on motivation, you ask yourself, oh God, why don't I feel motivated right now?

What's wrong with me? Where's my motivation? How can I get motivated? I find that whenever I feel stuck instead of looking for motivation, I like to ask myself questions, how can I make it easier?

How can I make it more fun? But I guess my favorite question is how can I make it easier? Instead of how can I force myself to do the hard things is like, okay, well let's be creative and simplify it, delegate it? And even the question, like, do I need to do it in the first place because I feel like a lot of the "shoulds" that we have in our life, we don't even have to do them if you don't want to?

So there's nothing wrong with that. Change your questions from how can I get inspired or how can I feel motivated to question such as how can I make it easier? Do I really need to do this activity? What is the minimum effective dose?

And then also test all your hypothesis around this goal that you have because all those statements that you might be thinking might be flawed.

For example, you're looking for a job and you're packing your schedule up with networking activities. So, you go to one event every single night and it takes a lot of your time, a lot of your energy, and you're an introvert and you hate all of that. But you're forcing yourself and of course you don't feel motivated because something's not aligned there.

The statement that you have that forces you to do those behavior is that in order to find a job, I need to network as much as possible, or I need to go to a networking event every single day. This is the statement and you believe like it was the fact. But in reality, this is just hypothesis that you can test.

You can test it for one sprint and see if you like it or not. If you like results sure stick with it. Then you'll feel more motivated because you'll have your first results. But if you don't see real results and you feel exhausted, then, why have this hypothesis? Find the examples of people who found amazing jobs without killing themselves, networking.

Maybe there is another way to network without you having to be physically there. Test the assumption that you have about having to network in order to find a job because this statement might not hold after careful consideration and testing.

All in all, to summarize all the points together, I think motivation is a trend that became very popular. I dunno in early 2000's , I think it's a trend that will go away. We have thousands of years in the history of humankind with people building incredible things, incredible buildings, going through revolutions, evolutions and all of that without needing to have motivation and without being obsessed with feeling motivated on a daily basis, it's a recent event. Again, it's a trend that I think will pass or at least a hopeful past. All of us are doing hard things on a daily basis. When we don't feel motivated, just go and look into this activity is find examples of hard things that you do on a consistent basis and ask yourself what some of the techniques that you can borrow from those activities that you're already doing to the activity that you want to start doing.

Maybe it's external accountability. Great! Maybe it's another emotion. Maybe it's a promise that you've made to yourself. Maybe it's the educational component of it. Maybe you've watched a documentary that influenced how you eat. Maybe you just need to go and educate yourself on the benefits of the activity that you're trying to do.

If you know that knowledge is what influences you a lot, then sure, go ahead and do that. But you are already great at doing hard things without needing to have motivation. Go study that. See your techniques and strategies in those areas of your life and just apply them to a new activity.

It's as easy as that. Ask yourself better questions. How can I make it easier? Do I even need to do it in the first place? Can I delegate it? Can I just stop doing this activity all together? Why am I doing it? Instead of asking yourself questions, how can I get motivated and all of that?

I feel like we need to have motivation when we were just tired, when our schedules are packed and it's like, no wonder we don't feel motivated. I think another thing to do here is just realistically, look at your schedule and see if you're overpacked with all the activities.

And if you are, then it's normal not to feel motivated. Go ahead and set goals that are smaller, maybe set goals to get rid of some of the activities. I think the last piece of advice I would offer is just embrace experimental mindset. For me personally, I feel like before the monthly method when I used to set goals the traditional way, when it's like from now on and forever, or I have to do something every single Monday for the rest of my life. All this long-term thinking, I required a lot more motivation to get started than I require right now. With the monthly method, you only commit to a small set of goals and you only commit to them for three weeks. Now, when I tell myself that I need to do something, I tell myself that I only need to do it for three weeks or I only need to do it nine times. For example, if I want to try this new fitness class, I tell myself that I need to go there in nine times. So, three times a week for three weeks, that's nine times. It's a lot easier to convince myself to do something for nine times, rather than to convince myself to do something three times a week for the rest of my life. Then after three weeks, if you've done something, then it's either a habit or it's becoming a habit or you've already seen your first results. Then, you don't really need as much motivation because you've already seen your first results and the results are causing this extra motivation on autopilot.

It's a nice flywheel effect here happening. If you want to learn more about this, I have a few episodes on the benefits of short term planning. I think there's one called sprint planning for personal productivity. And another one is called why long-term planning doesn't work or something like that.

So, you can definitely find it in the archive but that's it for today. Again, just a reminder that this episode was inspired by the question that I got from one of my listeners. A lot of my future episodes will be created based on the questions that I get from my listeners.

If you have a question, please go to the link provided in the show notes and submit your question. I'll answer them that upcoming episode. It's that easy. Okay, guys, I'll talk to you next Monday.