By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
I LOVED the first 120 pages or so of The Motivation Myth, the new book by popular Inc. magazine writer Jeff Haden. (And I liked the last 120 pages or so, too, just not quite as much as the first half that I LOVED.) I started reading this book and immediately pulled out my highlighter, and I am not a highlighting-books type of guy. There were just so many paragraphs and sentences that rang true to me.
The basic premise here is that motivation doesn’t come from a fiery pep talk or a Tony Robbins fire walk. It comes from actually doing something, finding a small success, and feeding off of that success as motivation to go further. You are naturally motivated by success to make more success. Any unnatural motivator is only going to last for a short while; you simply can’t keep a heightened state of frenzied activity going for very long. And you definitely can’t remain in that unnatural motivated state if you have a big goal that is going to take a long time to accomplish. You will burn out.
So, what’s the answer? It’s breaking down the goal into bite-size chunks, and then creating a consistent process while forgetting about the goal. If you want to run a marathon, you can’t stress about how long 26 miles sounds on your first day of training. If you want to build a billion-dollar company, you can’t stress about how to get millions of customers when you haven’t even gotten the first one. You have to make a plan, figure out what it would take to accomplish your goal, and then create a step-by-step blueprint for how you will do it. Then, each day, you work toward whatever the next step is — not toward the ultimate goal, just the next step. You have to create the process, embrace the process, trust the process. It’s all about the process, the process, the process — did you do the small piece today that gets you closer to the next step along the path?
Yes, breaking down a goal into smaller goals isn’t the newest concept in the world. But Haden does a great job of hammering away at the point, just like he wants you to hammer away. You must make the steps a part of your routine, meaning they get done without you thinking about whether or not you feel like doing them. They are just what you do, what your life is. (When these things are no longer a “choice” in your mind, you don’t need a spark of motivation to do them.) If you’re running a marathon and running X miles on Monday is in the plan, you just do it, same as you get yourself something to eat when you’re hungry. If you’ve decided X number of sales calls need to be done each week to get yourself to the next step on the billion-dollar business, you do them without question.
OK, so sometimes you don’t feel like it. That takes us back to smaller successes. Go through the motions to get started. Work up a small sweat walking before you run. Make an easy, successful call before you tackle the one you know will be more challenging. But do something. Don’t wait for an unreliable, outside motivator.
Here’s why I LOVED the first half of this book so much. It doesn’t say much more than I’ve just written. It just provides repeated examples of how it can work. There aren’t a bunch of 6-step lists or goal-setting acronyms that you’re supposed to remember but won’t. Haden just hammers away at the old saw: plan the work, work the plan.
The second half of the book strays from what I liked about the first half. Haden starts getting into 6-step lists and tangential information that really doesn’t reinforce the book’s theme. Maybe he had some awesome Inc. columns that he wanted to re-purpose. There’s good information, it just doesn’t fit The Motivation Myth theme so well.
But I’m not going to dock him too many points, because this is good stuff. The first step in your process for 2018 should be to nab this book.