I like to ask my newsletter readers what they’re struggling with. I reply to every email — it makes for great conversations. Also, inspiration. Yesterday a reader sent an email that made me stop and think. I’ve been there...
I’m struggling with motivation to write, she said.
I’ve struggled with that. Have you?
5 things that kill motivation…
I’m no psychologist, but I’ve watched a lot of people struggle with lack of motivation in 23 years working with business owners. Seems to me there are 5 things that kill motivation…
#1: Lack of desire
We can learn everything but desire. If you think you “should” write, but you don’t really want to, it’s pretty hard to manufacture the desire. Sometimes, there’s an avenue that’s a better fit for you, like art, cartoons, photography, etc. But if you do want to write, but still lack motivation, it’s probably one of the other barriers….
Fear is a common reason for lack of motivation. It’s hard to feel motivated if you’re afraid. Our brain is hardwired for safety, and we perceive fear in strange ways. Here’s an example…
When people are afraid of being “judged,” you know where that comes from? Our caveman ancestors were afraid of being ousted from their community because community meant food, shelter and safety and being ousted from that community often meant death. Our lives have changed, but our brains haven’t changed much. That’s why being “judged” is scary.
The reality is that today, there are zillions of communities, especially on the internet. Even right here on Medium. Groups of poets, fiction writers, news writers, and groups within groups. There is an audience for everyone.
If fear is killing motivation, you need to identify the fear. What is it that you’re afraid of? Once you name the fear, you can start to unpack it.
Futility is easy to recognize because it’s filled with dead end questions and negative beliefs that whisper in your head. What’s the point? No one is ever going to like my work. I’m just going to suck. No one will read it anyway.
Often, futility is driven by not knowing where to start, or not having a plan. Because if someone gave you a plan and promised you it would work if you follow the steps, you wouldn’t feel futile. You might have other motivation killers, but futility likely wouldn’t be one of them.
If you don’t know where to start, what to do next, or why you’re not getting results, that confusion can kill motivation. Confusion is often found dancing with futility. Around and around they go, never really getting anywhere.
When confusion is the problem, reach out to someone who can help. There’s always someone who is a few steps ahead of you and willing to help you find the way and give you some tips to break out of the confusion and futility loop.
There is a silent belief that good writers approach the page with motivation and inspiration. Nothing could be further from the truth. The things we do consistently are those which we have made a habit of. If you wait for the muse, she seldom shows up.
If you have not made a habit of writing, you’ll struggle with motivation, because it was never about motivation in the first place. It’s just about doing it, no different than taking a shower or brushing your teeth. It’s what you do.l Part of your daily routine.
Set a daily writing time for yourself. Print out a calendar and put an X on the page for every day you’ve written. You don’t even have to publish. Just write. In the beginning, you’ll miss some days. But as the number of pages marked with an X increase, you’ll find it easier to write.
At some point, writing will become just “something you do” and when writing becomes just “something you do” regardless of whether you feel like it or not, motivation ceases to be a struggle and habit takes over.
I am Habit
I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few
lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great men. And, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine. Plus, the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am habit.
— John Di Lemme