If Your Only Driver is Motivation, You’ll Never Succeed

Inspiration is fickle. Unwavering commitment is essential.

Adrian Drew
Dec 5, 2019 · 6 min read

We’ve all been there. Perhaps we’ve just finished watching a Tony Robbins seminar and we’re ready to smash our business goals, or it’s Monday and we’re ‘totally committed’ to getting into shape this time. (Because we weren’t really serious about it last week.)

Wherever you find yourself right now, there’s no doubt that you’ve been influenced by motivation at some point in the past. It’s like a shot of caffeine that jolts us into action, transforming our mental state from laziness to laser-focused devotion in a matter of seconds.

However, like a shot of caffeine, motivation is a drug. It’s addictive, but it isn’t sustainable.

Just as one shouldn’t rely upon stimulants as a source of energy, if our dedication to hard work is dependent on our degree of inspiration, we’ll be sure to fail sooner or later.

Motivation isn’t reliable. It wavers. It fluctuates. What doesn’t fluctuate, however, is commitment. Commitment, therefore, is the key to success.

A Diamond in the Ruff

Let’s be honest, the world of personal development is awash with charlatans. Granted, there are some individuals out there with a genuine passion for and unique insight into the world of self-help.

But there are also a lot of pseudo-scientists, misinformers and money-hungry capitalists masquerading as benevolent preachers with nothing but your best interests at heart. Sadly, that facade isn’t always true.

Amongst them all, though, is a man named David Goggins — a diamond in the ruff. You might have heard of him. Goggins was subject to an atrocious upbringing; what could have been a happy childhood in Buffalo, New York, tarnished by the brush of emotional abuse and domestic violence.

Goggins isn’t known for his troubled youth, though. He’s renowned for his incredible worth ethic and commitment to every task he attempts.

As Cameron Hanes explains in a podcast with Joe Rogan, Goggins, after a full day of training, managed to bench press a total of six-hundred repetitions in one day. And, amazingly, he managed to lift more on the last set than he did on the first.

(You can see him training here in this hilarious video. Start at 5:09.)

Goggins’s approach to training is extreme. He pushes himself far beyond his mental limits to achieve seemingly impossible feats in the realm of fitness.

How can one man accomplish such a feat? Well, the answer is simple. Goggins isn’t ruled by his thoughts, and he isn’t influenced by motivation.

One thing drives Goggins forward, and that’s his commitment to his goals.

Stop Making New Year’s Resolutions

How often have you fallen into the trap of making New Year’s Resolutions and quitting them a few weeks in? In reality, we all have.

This is a classic example of the fleeting nature of motivation. We enjoy the Christmas period, filled with endorphins and positive energy as the holiday season progresses, and so we decide to make goals for the year ahead.

And it’s easy to make ambitious goals when we’re feeling happy and confident. And it’s easy to wake up on the first day of January and head to the gym — and it might even remain easy to do that for a short while.

The real challenge, however, comes during those days on which we wake up to the sound of our alarm and we don’t feel like getting out of bed. That overflowing well of motivation has, much to our dreary-eyed surprise, dried up overnight.

Strip away the motivation and we’re left with a question. How committed are we to this goal of ours? How prepared are we to do what it takes to achieve it? Are we willing to do what’s difficult, or are we going to opt for what’s convenient?

Alas, we so often opt for the well-trodden path of resistance. We fall off the horse, and when we do that once, we set a new standard for ourself — a standard that says, ‘Hey, man, if you don’t feel like running sometimes, that’s okay. Don’t run.’

And in that single moment, we say goodbye to our commitments. That is, until tomorrow, or next week or even next year, when we reignite that flame of motivation and start all over again — only to fall once more at the first hurdle.

Nature’s Filtration Process

We’ve all heard this principle, or at least some variation of it:

‘If it’s difficult, that’s because it’s probably worthwhile.’

See, the universe, nature, society, call it what you will, has this ingenious filtration process whereby only those who are wholly committed to their goals will succeed.

I remember when I first established my publication, Mind Cafe. For more than twelve months I didn’t earn a single penny for all of the hard work I put into editing, publishing and advertising it. Nothing.

But around a year and a few million views later, I was contacted by a large company and asked to join their partner program, whereby I’d receive funding to keep this thing going. Now I’m able to generate upwards of £2,500 each month to sit in coffee shops, listen to my favourite music and publish articles about happiness.

Those twelve months were a filtration process. I had to prove my commitment. I had to prove that I was willing to put my time, effort and energy into this little idea of mine, receiving nothing for it, before I was eligible to reap the rewards.

There’s a common mistake I see a lot of people making. We expect overnight success. We don’t anticipate that we’ll have to wait a little while or maybe even a really long time until we start seeing results.

In our culture of instant gratification, few of us can understand why we should have to sacrifice so much our precious time and get little to nothing for it when there are others earning hundreds of thousands for the same level of work.

But we’re missing the mark. What we fail to realise is that only the Goggins’s amongst us, those who are prepared to show up every day regardless of rewards or motivation, are those that succeed.

That’s the filtration process. You have to prove how badly you want it first. Otherwise, you’re not getting it.

That means facing some serious difficulties. It means doing hard things. It means getting used to rejection, humiliation and embarrassment. In short, it means you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone. And fast

Commitment Can’t Be Taught

So if motivation is fickle and commitment is the answer, you’re probably expecting me to teach you how to start being committed now, aren’t you?

Well, unfortunately, I can’t. Nobody can.

You already have the answers. When you’re thinking of hitting the snooze button, considering not going to go to the gym or debating buying another pint of beer, you know what to do. You’re just not doing it. You’re taking the easy option instead.

How many times has Nike’s ‘Just do it’ slogan penetrated your eardrums and bounced off your corneas? How many more times do you need to read those words before you actually get up and just do it, whatever ‘it’ means to you?

When temptation arises, we have to quiz ourselves. We have to question that temptation. We have to ask, am I going to become another failure? Another person that gave up in the absence of inspiration? Another statistic?

Our days are numbered. We only have so many second chances, and if we’re not careful, then one day we’ll find ourselves with only a handful of tomorrow’s left and a head full of regret.

Don’t let that happen. Don’t let temptation distract you from fulfilment. In the words of Ant Middleton,

‘If it feels like temptation, don’t do it. ’

It’s as simple as that.

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Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

Adrian Drew

Written by

Inspiring others to live happier, one article at a time. Get in touch via adrian@mindcafe.co

Mind Cafe

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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