The personal development industry is worth over $11 billion a year. Being better than we were last year is a need that drives individuals, spurs innovation and pushes the human race to greater achievements every day. We all want to grow; to provide more for ourselves and those we care about.
We consume books, seminars and training courses, and we scour the Internet for kernels of truth; hoping to unlock the ‘secrets' to achieving more, having more and being more. We hope.
I've devoured my fair share of this stuff, and some of it has helped me along the way but over the last 30 years, a startling and inescapable truth has emerged for me.
Most of it won't do you any good.
The simple reason is, all the ‘secrets' in the world won't force you to do what you need to do.
One of my favourite thinkers, Seth Godin, says that no how-to book needs to be more than ten pages long. The only reason it's longer is the placebo effect when it's 200 pages long. You believe it's more valuable because it's longer than 10.
It's the same with motivation. We think we need lots of it to achieve great things. Plus, it wears off, so we keep topping up.
In my view, relying on these beliefs is a recipe for failure. If you have to keep prodding yourself, or you need to feel inspired before you act; forget it. You're never going to make it.
To succeed at anything difficult – building a business, investing for wealth or forging great relationships – these things take effort, and they require time.
Get Beyond Motivation.
To achieve something great requires a mindset that's foreign to many of us. It requires that you acknowledge that what you're doing might work, but it also might not – and being OK with that.
It's not ambivalence and it's not laziness. It's an acknowledgement that you can't control everything. There are no guarantees. The only guarantees are your willingness to work hard (especially when you don't feel like it) and your decision to iterate and evolve as you go.
There are countless lessons on the road to your goals, but I believe three of them will reappear again and again to test you.
1. Show up when you don't want to
2. Work really hard – even when you don't feel like it
3. Learn, adjust and iterate until you succeed
I'll give you a real-world example.
My 13-year-old daughter decided a year ago she was going to do two things. She was going to lose some weight and pursue a dream. That dream was to become a makeup expert and share what she learned via YouTube – as she was learning.
Watching her do this was amazing. Whether she felt like it or not, she stuck to a healthy eating plan, and she recorded one video every week. In between, she devoured anything she could on her new-found passion. She was hungry to learn and wouldn't sway from her path.
On many occasions, we gorged ourselves at wineries, cafes and restaurants. Sarah would bring her plastic containers of food and eat them quietly, without fanfare. We'd settle in to watch a video while she recorded or edited another of her own. Her dedication was unbreakable. She was all-in.
So what happened? She lost a tonne of weight, she got her confidence back, and she built an audience of 90,000 subscribers in one year. Some of her videos even broke the million view mark.
Astonishing. But not surprising.
The difference is, successful people make themselves do what they need to do while unsuccessful people use excuses or wait for someone to do it for them.
Don't wait for inspiration.
So if you're looking for a hack or a trick to doing the things you need to do, the ONLY one I know that works is this. Simply START doing the thing you've been avoiding and pretty soon, the motivation will follow. Don't wait for the feeling. Don't wait for inspiration. Create it by starting.
This principle applies to anything; especially in areas like business or investing because these are both long games. Do you think Thomas Edison waited to feel motivated before working on experiment 287 for perfecting the light bulb? He knew that his greatest ally was simply to do the work; to persist. Over 1,000 attempts had passed before he succeeded.
To succeed in anything requires first and foremost, that you ascribe to this way of thinking.
Do what you need to do, divorced of the will to do it or the promise of victory and by any measure that counts, you'll already be a success.
Check out Sarah's Website here.
And her YouTube channel here.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope we get to hang out more in the future. And in the meantime, please feel free to share your own experiences. You can email me directly at email@example.com. I respond to all emails.
Disclaimer & Disclosure: I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a financial advisor's elbow. This material doesn't constitute financial advice but rather a collection of personal opinions, based on my own experiences. Some of the links on my site are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. I provide links to services or products I have used and liked or researched and recommend. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you believe they will be beneficial to you.
Also published on Medium.