Most people will tell you that, in order to reach peak performance, you have to motivate yourself. Well, let me disagree. I am here to tell you today that the best motivation for peak performance can be anti-motivation. Motivation itself can actually be harmful in some cases. It’s a double-edged sword you have to use carefully. Why? Let’s check it out in detail. What is the whole point of motivation? If we look at it in depth, motivation only serves to help you reach something. You don’t just get motivated. You get motivated to do something. So, if you don’t do that something, it’s no use being motivated.
We might do something because we like it, because we must do it, or a similar reason. However, with important things in life, most things are things we MUST do. And we must do them even if it creates discomfort in ourselves. Being motivated in this case might be harmful. It erases our musts. It creates comfort and doesn’t oblige us to do what we must do. However, if you’re feeling pretty bad, motivation can be a pretty good weapon. It can lead you and help you maintain the mindset to complete a task. If you’re feeling down, being motivated can be a lifesaver. So, when should motivation be used?
It’s pretty easy to figure out. If you’re the kind of person who tends to not take action when he’s comfortable, by all means be motivated. If you feel being motivated slowly eats away at your discipline, then don’t become motivated. It’s that simple. Even though it’s not done that much nowadays, in the past self-help teachers and coaches used to promote positive thinking and needless motivation. We’ve come to realize it doesn’t work that easily. In conclusion, I’d say, only be motivated if it contributes to the task. If it doesn’t, drop the motivation.
You have to make the shift from focusing on something external to focusing on yourself. If someone motivates you it’s like you have an external shell of motivation. It’s belonging to somebody else’s. So it doesn’t lead you to take action. If you feel motivated deep inside yourself, you’re lead to take action. Most exterior motivation comes in the form of hearing about others’ achievements, empty motivational phrases, and others. Interior motivation comes in the form of you knowing you can do it, you remembering past successes, and others.
So, whenever you are being motivated, double check. Is this motivation resonating with me, am I driven to take action, or is it just an outer shell? If it’s a true motivation from within yourself, retain the motivation, if it’s somebody else’s, discard it. Simple and effective. Note that this is just a safety measure. I usually consider interior motivation to be true and exterior motivation to not feel so true. If you are the kind of person that can hear about others’ achievements and still act with perfect confidence and discipline as if it were yourself, by all means do it. It’s just most people don’t consider exterior motivation that truthful after some time, and this is the way to prevent that.
There are certain tasks where I purposefully kill the motivation. Sometimes I want to jog. I can only jog for 30m. However, if I watch a video about sports where the speaker shows he can run up to 2 hours straight, I’m pumped, I have that motivation as if I could run 2 hours myself. If I retain that motivation I’m probably going to have an unpleasant surprise after 20m of jogging. Oh boy. So before I start I cut the motivation. I get my feet down to earth and ask myself: Is this realistic? Does this motivation have a base? Sometimes I make negative presuppositions. I’m worse than ever. I can’t jog even 5m. Motivation might break that connection between you and reality, and you have to connect it back.
Newbie mistake. I am not talking about goals. People will say, don’t have realistic goals. Try weird, megalomaniac things. I agree. It’s not your goals that should be realistic. Your goals should be megalomaniac, but they should be done in a realistic manner. If you want me to simplify it, I would say: If motivation drives you to action, use it. If it doesn’t, discard it. Sometimes you have to do a task you hate. And motivation will only create empty fantasy space in your head and not contribute to your completion of the task. So discard it.
Other times the motivation will be spot on, you will realize “Yes, this is exactly what I was looking for to drive me”. Then use it. If motivation makes you act, use it. If it doesn’t, discard it. Sometimes it’s not easy. Motivation makes you feel good. Breaking that state of motivation makes you feel the cold of the wind and look at dirt of the ground once again. But life’s not fluffy or warm all the time. Many times, when you have to take action, you have to get down and dirty. So do it. Harness that skill and you will control your emotions, your capability for action, and achieve peak performance almost immediately.