You must be thinking that this is obvious and old. Motivation is connected to success, no brainer. Except that maybe you didn’t think about what exactly motivation is. Most people know what motivation feels like, but can’t put it into words.
It turns out, motivation is not a random burst of energy that sometimes we feel, but can’t control. Motivation is the result of a strong and exciting motive, a reason to move and go do stuff. If you feel motivated to play Call of Duty because that excites you and you really love the game, you may excel at it, but unless you managed to make money playing it, you won’t become successful.
So when we say that motivation determines your success, we’re not talking about how fired up you are to do random stuff, things that don’t matter, or how excited about life you are in general. We’re talking about finding a real and strong reason to justify your daily actions towards something that will make you big. If you don’t have that motive, your days are probably filled with boring obligations, stress, frustration, and a lot of procrastination.
This might also be obvious, but what most people don’t realize is that what we focus on most of the time is what ends up becoming our lives. Those activities that we are motivated to do and put more time and effort on, generate results. These results can bring you success or not. Playing video games too much may make some people really good at it. It’s a result, but a worthless one! The same goes to everything we do to make money or to try to be successful. The difference between mediocre and extraordinary results isn’t always clear. If we get motivated to do things that don’t pay off, we waste precious time that we should be using to do things that yield better results. But maybe we’re not that into those activities!
Now you see how this motivation – success thing is more complicated than it seems?! I, for once, enjoy doing a lot of things that are unproductive, ineffective, and just plain wasteful – and I’m only talking about professional activities! I also enjoy a bunch of things that are pure procrastination traps. Every single day I have to remind myself that if I don’t stop doing things that don’t work, I’ll fail at producing the results I’m after. It’s a constant effort to only allow myself to dedicate time to things that are effective, and don’t allow myself to ride the motivation wave and do whatever feels good at the time. However, if I’m never motivated to do the things that work, I’ll probably never be successful because I’ll come up with a million excuses to do something else day in, day out, avoiding the key activities that would build structured results.
It is imperative that we reflect deeply upon what really motivates us because this is what ultimately will either bring us extraordinary results, or keep us struggling. It’s ok to enjoy unproductive activities, but whatever we deem to be our “money-making”, “success building” goals must be something that can potentially return great results in a reasonable amount of time.
Doing what doesn’t work creates the busy syndrome: we’re always busy, we never have time for anything, but we have no results to show for all our effort. This is something important to be aware of, because the fact that we’re working may borrow a false sense of productivity. We may even be extremely motivated to do those things. What we usually don’t think about is what really is the end game of those things. Why are we doing what we’re doing? Are we spending too much time on a seemingly important, but irrelevant task? I love to pick images for my articles. I can spend an hour or more searching for the perfect picture. Although somewhat important, spending more than a few minutes to choose a simple image to illustrate an article is unproductive. I feel motivated to do that, I enjoy photography and design, but I have to control myself and pick whatever image that looks fine, instead of spending a disproportionate amount of time until I find something I believe to be perfect.
This is a silly example of a common problem. We’re doing something that actually matters, but it involves several tasks that could take too long if we’re not careful. That’s why it’s so deceiving. Because it’s important and because it’s something that leads to success, we tend to just do it, whatever it takes, how long it takes. If we like the task and feel motivated to do it, we can spend hours doing something that could be completed in a few minutes. In the end, we have a few seeds of success spread along a vast path of wasteland. It’s not enough, and our focused efforts get lost in the middle of unrelated and unproductive activities.
So, motivation does determines our success, but it must be the right motivation, in and for the right time! The wrong type of motivation definitely leads to mediocrity and it’s easy to spot. However, what we must be aware of all the time is how we’re using our energy. Are we spending too much time doing the right thing when we could do it in less time? Are we confusing busyness with productivity? Are we doing things that work but produce meager results? The answers to those questions lead us to focus on doing what matter in the most productive way. This, in turn, feeds our motivation, since we start seeing results faster and feel compelled to do more of the right thing, in the most efficient way.