Motivation, the desire to do.
The drug of the XXI century and everyone wants their next fix.
Motivational content is one of the most popular categories of the internet. Instagram accounts, inspirational videos, quotes, blog posts… Everywhere we turn, motivation is a topic.
The more I am exposed to this sea of content, the more I ask myself — “Why are all these people so demotivated??”
It seems like people are constantly looking for a source of inspiration. The next piece of content that will give them a boost of productivity to achieve the next goal. I genuinely curious why there is so much demand for motivation. Here is my take on it.
1. It is just us being social animals
All of this content is only reflecting our natural tendency to look for inspiration in others. The chief of the tribe and his warriors were a source of motivation and willpower for the rest of the tribe.
Today, the internet and specially social media allowed people who are doing amazing things to share it with a wider audience. Each individual can find what drives them because there are so many motivational stories available.
The demand for this type of content creates a snowball effect, resulting in channels dedicated to motive and inspire. Which leads us to the next point.
2. Addiction to motivational content
Another point of view is that all this content is consumed in the wrong way. It is simply motivating people to consume more of the same content. Short term motivation.
If the content is meant to motivate, it would be expected that people consume it and leave…motivated. But it’s not the case. People got addicted to the rush of instant inspiration.
Consciously or unconsciously, aspiring influences go for the low hanging fruit by producing content that appeals to this addiction. I am guilty of this myself.
Different Kinds of Motivation
The problem is not in the content but in who consumes it. We live in a consumerist culture where short term pleasure, diversity and abundance is the norm. It is expected that motivation should work along the same lines.
We are motivated primarily in two simple ways. By exterior forces like wealth or status and by personal forces like knowledge or health. When you read about this, the concepts are commonly refereed as extrinsic or intrinsic motivation.
I would love to simplify and affirm that we should be driven only by your interior motivations but that is a load of crap.
As social animals, we are designed to care about how others perceive us and it is perfectly normal for exterior forces to drive us. The problem starts when the only force motivating us is external.
A balance of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is necessary.
The Ebb and Flow of Motivation
The surge in motivational content is a symptom of the unbalance between these two forces. There is a disturbance.
I was curious if this ebb and flow of motivation is visible by looking at the searchability of the word “motivation”. Not much can be concluded from the graph below but it is nevertheless interesting to look at the results.
On the macro scale, people consistently search for motivation less during August and Christmas holidays and more immediately after New Year’s Eve and around late March.
From personal experience, these constant ups and downs in willpower are a crippling factor which I strive to eliminate. Ironically, the lack motivation motivated me to write this post… But let’s continue.
Long Lasting Motivation
From what we discussed so far, a few questions start to bubble up: How do we smooth out this behavior? How do we make motivation more constant? How do we get rid of this addiction?
Motivation is a tricky subject to write about in more specific terms because each of us is motivated in different ways. For this reason, I will talk in terms of mindsets. State of mind which transcends personal preference.
1. Focusing on the process
While working on my blog or YouTube channel, I sometimes get too attached to how well my content is performing. This can sometimes be empowering but most of the times, it cripples my motivation to keep doing more content.
Detachment from the outcome is perhaps one of most important lessons to learn and to practice. Focusing on the process of creating and being able to share work without being influenced by other’s opinions allows me to quickly move on to the next big thing.
Easy to say, difficult to practice which leads us to the next point. Time.
2. Long term thinking
There is no quote or motivational video that will be the trigger for you to work like an animal. There is no course you can buy or “5 Easy Steps” you can follow that will unlock your productivity.
Work, practice and patience will. You will unlock yourself.
Once you start thinking long term, a bunch of sources of demotivation fade away. It gives us the necessary perspective to interpret the present obstacles.
3. Clear vision and goals
The previous two points are useless if there is not a defined path to be walked.
There is a reason all high level companies have a vision. It communicates the patch to be walked to everyone and contextualizes daily activities. Because we are our own CEO’s, why not do the same for us?
I personally benefit a lot from having in my workplace a manifesto that I can look at all times. When motivation is down, a quick reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing gets me over the hill.
At the end of the day…It is personal
When I write about motivation, I tend to be more abstract because I never know how others experience it. It is a very personal subject so a lot of people don’t really talk about it.
But today is different. I really want to know what drives you and how do you get demotivated. As I understand, relationships are build on trust so I go first.
What really fires me up is interacting with people who are struggling in life but still find time to work on their craft. If this interaction is physical, the effect is 10 times stronger.
Now that I think about it, it motivates me to understand that some people would kill to be in my position. Therefore I should perform as good as I can.
Regarding demotivation, seeing my work not being appreciated is a buzzkiller.
Now it is your turn. What motivates you? What demotivates you?