Debunking the 4 Myths of Motivation: A Guide to Taking Action and Achieving Success

Jun 17 / Rich George

Imagine this scenario: You wake up, determined to tackle that big project you've been putting off for weeks. You sit down at your desk, ready to dive in, but an hour later, you find yourself scrolling mindlessly through social media or reorganizing your sock drawer.

The motivation that seemed so palpable just moments ago has vanished, leaving you feeling frustrated and stuck in a familiar cycle of procrastination.

The Struggle with Motivation

I know this struggle with motivation is one that resonates with many of us, regardless of our goals or ambitions. Motivation is a powerful force that can propel us towards success, but it can also be elusive and difficult to sustain. Understanding the nuances of motivation and how it influences our actions is crucial for achieving our objectives and reaching our full potential.

However, there are several common myths surrounding motivation that can hinder our ability to take action and make progress. These misconceptions can lead us astray, causing us to adopt counterproductive mindsets or rely on ineffective strategies.

Let’s explore four prevalent myths about motivation:

 Myth 1: Motivation is all that matters.

Can a 70-year-old woman realistically play in the NBA? Can anyone become a bestselling author? The reality is that the answer is NO.

While motivation is undeniably important, it is just one aspect of achieving success. Factors such as intelligence, talent, skill, resources, and opportunity also play crucial roles.

  • Understanding Limitations: Despite what we might be told growing up, there are certain limitations that cannot be overcome by motivation alone. It’s important to recognize these boundaries, and it’s perfectly acceptable. After all, our loved ones support us regardless.
  • Value of Motivation: Motivation is far from insignificant. When we are motivated to pursue goals that align with our values, we find that we need less external management.
  • Challenges of Maintaining Motivation: It’s also important to acknowledge that maintaining motivation can be a significant challenge in itself.

Understanding and balancing these dynamics is key to realistic and sustainable personal and professional growth.

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 Myth 2: Without motivation, you will not do anything.

Are you eager to go to your job each day? Probably not. Do you find excitement in getting out of bed every morning? Unlikely. Still, we push ourselves up, head to work, and handle what needs to be done.

  • Daily Responsibilities: We often engage in activities out of necessity rather than motivation. For example, most people go to work every day even if they aren't particularly excited about it.
  • Routine Tasks: Getting out of bed each morning is another routine task that many people do without feeling motivated. It’s a part of our daily responsibilities.
  • Unpleasant Duties: Consider the chores or tasks you regularly perform that you don't enjoy. These might include doing household chores, attending meetings, or running errands.

Understanding that motivation is not always a prerequisite for action can help us navigate our daily lives more effectively. We often rely on discipline, habits, and obligations to get things done, even in the absence of motivation.

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 Myth 3:  If you are not motivated to do it, that means it should not be done. 

Do you think the strongest people in the world only train when they feel like it? Do you think bestselling authors only write when they feel inspired?

  • Consistency Over Motivation: The most successful people in every field work hard every day. They don’t wait for motivation; they understand the consequences of not putting in the effort.
  • Daily Commitment: Successful individuals know that consistent action is key. They push through regardless of how they feel because they understand the long-term impact of their work.
  • Reality Check: If you only do what you feel like doing, you might end up spending your time snacking on the couch and binge-watching TV.
Take action. Motivation is great when it is available, but you will have to pick yourself up and do what needs to be done all of the other times.
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Myth 4:  Motivation always exists.  

Some believe that motivation is always present, ready to propel us forward. But the truth is, motivation is not always on-tap. There are days when we feel extra inspired and others when we'd rather just quit. This phenomenon is universal—everyone deals with it.

  • Unpredictable Nature: It’s incredibly hard to predict when motivation will strike. The best approach is to make the decision to put in the work regardless of how we feel.
  • Costs and Rewards: Every decision has a cost, and motivation makes it easier to bear that cost. For instance, the desire to visit Italy makes the cost of a plane ticket more acceptable.
  • Short Supply: Motivation can be scarce at times. During these periods, we must “fake it until we make it,” remembering the satisfaction of completing tasks and the pain of leaving them undone.
  • Getting to Work: Sometimes, it’s necessary to simply put our heads down and do what needs to be done. Waiting for the perfect circumstances or attitude only leads to mediocrity.
The biggest advantage motivated individuals have is this: while others wait for inspiration to strike, they take action and achieve their goals. Stop waiting for motivation—take action, and you will manifest it. Success breeds motivation, and action is the key to both.

"Whether you think that you can, or you think that you can’t, either way... you are right.”

- Henry Ford

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Motivation in Leadership Roles

As leaders, cultivating and sustaining motivation is paramount for achieving organizational success. However, unique challenges arise in motivating oneself and others in leadership positions. The immense responsibilities, high-stakes decisions, and constant pressure to deliver results can swiftly drain motivation levels, paving the way for burnout and subpar performance.

A leader's motivation profoundly impacts team morale, productivity, and the organization's overall success. Effective leaders employ strategic approaches to maintain motivation within themselves and their teams. They achieve this by:

  • Inspiring a shared vision aligned with company values
  • Recognizing and rewarding achievements to boost morale
  • Cultivating a positive work culture that encourages open communication, collaboration, and a growth mindset

Motivation and Goal-Setting for Executives

As an executive, staying motivated can be a constant challenge amid the relentless responsibilities and high-stakes pressures that come with leadership positions. However, one powerful tool that can help sustain your motivation is effective goal-setting. Here's why:

🎯 Clear, well-defined goals provide a sense of direction and purpose, fueling your motivation to work towards something meaningful.

🎯 Achieving goals, no matter how small, triggers a rewarding feeling of accomplishment that boosts motivation further.

🎯 Having specific goals to work towards helps you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by distractions or less important tasks.
So, how can you leverage goal-setting to your motivational advantage? Start by getting familiar with proven goal-setting frameworks:
⭐️ SMART Goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This framework ensures your goals are clear, realistic, and have a deadline.

⭐️ OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) - This allows you to set ambitious objectives while defining how to achieve and measure them.  

Whichever framework you choose, remember: Your professional goals should harmonize with your personal values and aspirations. This alignment is crucial for maximizing motivation, as it brings a sense of fulfillment. Also, break down large goals into bite-sized, actionable steps. Smaller "wins" fuel your motivation journey.

Example Goal: Develop as an Inspirational Leader over the Next 12 Months

  • Read three books on leadership styles by Q2
  • Attend a leadership workshop by Q3
  • Implement new feedback processes with your team by Q4

As you check off each milestone, celebrate those small victories! Positive reinforcement re-energizes you for the next step.

The key is finding the right balance between challenging goals that push you, but aren't so daunting that you feel demotivated from the start, and pursuing professional growth alongside personal fulfillment - the two realms cannot be separated.

With strategic goal-setting aligned to your authentic self, you'll unlock sustainable motivation as an executive. Those critical targets will feel like motivating rewards, not draining chores.

Overcoming Motivational Challenges in the Corporate World

The corporate world is rife with motivational hurdles that can hinder even the most driven executives. Common challenges like burnout, imposter syndrome, and work-life imbalance can quickly deplete motivation levels. During setbacks or high-pressure situations, it becomes crucial to maintain your motivation and momentum. This requires cultivating resilience, adaptability, and a growth mindset that views obstacles as opportunities for growth.

To overcome these challenges, establish a robust support system – whether it's a mentor, a peer group, or a professional coach. Don't hesitate to delegate tasks when overwhelmed, and prioritize self-care practices. Some key strategies include:

  • Regular exercise and mindfulness practices
  • Setting boundaries and unplugging from work
  • Pursuing hobbies and engaging in activities you enjoy
  • Building a supportive network of family, friends, and colleagues
  • Seeking professional counseling or coaching when needed
By implementing these strategies, you can fortify your motivation and navigate the corporate landscape with greater ease and resilience.

The Role of Motivation in Career Advancement and Success

Motivation is an essential catalyst for achieving career success and advancement. It fuels the drive for personal and professional growth, skill development, and seizing opportunities that propel you forward. Without motivation, it becomes easy to stagnate and miss out on valuable chances for progression. At the core lies motivation's powerful impact on:

  • Seeking learning experiences and pushing beyond your comfort zone
  • Demonstrating commitment and ambition to potential employers/mentors
  • Networking and building meaningful industry relationships
  • Identifying and capitalizing on advancement opportunities
To cultivate a mindset primed for career advancement, adopt a growth mindset - the belief that abilities aren't fixed but can be developed through dedicated effort. This perspective reframes challenges as opportunities for growth, fostering resilience and adaptability in your professional journey. Actively nurture your motivation by:

  • Setting goals and celebrating milestones, no matter how small
  • Building a supportive network of mentors, peers, and well-wishers
  • Embracing a lifelong approach to learning and skill development
Remember, motivation ebbs and flows, but by actively nurturing it, you can maintain the drive necessary for continual career advancement and lasting success.

Rich George
Your Success Coach

Your NOI Coach is Rich George, a successful business owner and published author that has over 30 years of business experience. Rich brings a no-nonsense approach to strategic planning and a passion for building cultures.