Today, January 1st, the gyms will be packed. The demand for healthier food will be high. The McDonalds lines will be shorter. Self-help book sales will increase. People will be nicer, happier, and more upbeat.
To this reality we face on the new year’s, I feel pity. I feel bad over the ignorance of those who make resolutions based off of new year motivation; and consequently, fail. A small percentage of people will reach their goals, and this is not because they set them at the start of the year, it’s that their mindset was already ready for success.
Why do we see the new year’s resolution trend every year? Because we’ve built a toxic culture around motivation. We now treat our life like the thought of the weekend during a particularly bad week; we treat our lives like a never-ending tunnel with a light at the end.
The issue with these people is that they are fighting an uphill battle. If you are like this, listen up. This happens because of false, deficit, extrinsic motivation. All the wrong types of motivation are involved with the never-ending pursuit of the white light. The uphill battle is fought by those who have the wrong type of motivation.
1. False motivation
I made this term up a few years ago. Essentially, false motivation is the idea that after we indulge in bad habits, see someone else who is better than us, or feel guilt, all of a sudden, the world flips upside-down, and it feels like we have the power to reach our goals. The issue with false motivation is that it is false; it’s an illusion created by the mind to cope with an unwanted circumstance or action. Temporarily, you may feel feelings of guidance, bliss, and mania when experiencing false motivation; however, this is temporary, not long-term. After a few manic hours of cleaning the room/wishing the dishes style productivity, you may feel better, but by no means will your motivation continue.
2. Deficit motivation
Deficit motivation occurs when you are focused on the lack of something rather than an inner desire to grow. When you lack something, say, happiness, you may feel deficit motivation to become happier. This is good, but again, temporary. Imagine if you just shifted the motivation from “I’m unhappy, I need happiness” to “I would like to increase my happiness for the rest of my life.” Just this shift turns your deficit motivation into growth motivation; thus, turning your impermanent motivation into permanent motivation.
3. Extrinsic motivation
Extrinsic motivation occurs when you desire something outside of personal enjoyment, something that is not internal to yourself. Such things include but are not limited to money, power, status, fame, relationships, avoiding punishment the list goes on. If you do not do a task for its own sake, your motivation will wane either before you achieve the extrinsic motivator or once you achieve it. Again, this is a problem because this means the motivation is impermanent, and it will not be strong enough to cultivate a vital ingredient of success- persistence.
What do you do with these types of motivation? Let them help, but whatever you do; do not rely on them. You mustn’t let these types of motivation become your primary source of persistence, because they are so impermanent that in just a few hours, days, or weeks; you will be thrown off your path and you will land back in the world of instant gratification and comfort.
So, what do you do?
Motivate yourself intrinsically.
Imagine motivation is like a seed you must take care of. You must sow, with care, the seeds of positive thought within your mind. From those seeds, if properly taken care of, motivation is cultivated.
To intrinsically motivate is a process, and that is why most people fail. Intrinsic motivation is the base amount of effort you must put in to achieve a goal, and most people aren’t even aware of its existence. To intrinsically motivate is to first, sow the proper seeds of thought into your mind. To take care of the seeds and water them with a strong vision, to fertilize them with persistent action, to add the sunlight of gaining specific knowledge around your skill.
In less metaphorical terms- here’s the practical steps to intrinsic motivation.
- Positive mind. Good mental health and positive, self-motivating thought patterns.
- A strong vision cultivated through visualization of the end goal.
- A self-image which matches the character of the person you must become to complete the goal.
- Persistent action within the goal, consistency, with no room for doubt and resistance. There will be days where you have no motivation. These are the days where the persistent are separated from the weak.
- Specialized knowledge. If the goal means enough to you, you will, with humility, learn the skills, knowledge, and processes necessary to achieve the goal.
This is all you need to get what you want done this year. This is the blueprint, apply it, and you’ll be one of those who actually get through the year without returning to the life of dissatisfaction.
If you’re making new year’s resolutions, it’s because you want out of the current life you’re living. You want something better, bigger, or more long-term gratifying. Do me and you a favor and don’t forget that. Don’t forget that desire. (here’s a secret- desire is really step 0 in the process of achieving a goal.)
Thank you for tuning in, and I hope you enjoyed this. Stay with me on this journey, I’m on it with you, we must fight against mediocrity together.
Bonus: A deeper dive on intrinsic motivation
Be careful when setting goals which you can achieve. It’s good to do this, but remember, if your motivation is solely based on the goal and not your own internal desire to improve, the motivation will start to fade once you achieve the goal. Don’t live life like a yo-yo. Stay intrinsically motivated, don’t fall off.
Much love, Mason
FOR A DEEPER DIVE on motivation: feel free to check out my new eBook- “Your Worst Enemy, Your Best Friend” on gumroad. link here. This gets deep, its inspirational and mind expanding 🙂 ($2.99)