In Search of…the Right Motivation?

by | Mar 2, 2002

Many people assume that they can’t accomplish their goals until they have “the right motivation.” They will even seek psychological help in order to establish “the right motivation” before taking any steps towards a goal. This is a mistake — and an amazingly common one. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t feel sufficiently motivated […]

Many people assume that they can’t accomplish their goals until they have “the right motivation.” They will even seek psychological help in order to establish “the right motivation” before taking any steps towards a goal.

This is a mistake — and an amazingly common one. Don’t fall for it. If you don’t feel sufficiently motivated to do something, then it’s important to look at why.

For example, make sure that you’re not asking yourself to act against your own interests, such as doing favors for people whom you don’t value that much (or at all). This will destroy motivation like nothing else. But most of the time this isn’t the problem. Most of the time people tell me things like, “I really want to complete this degree program (or whatever the goal is). I have thought it out clearly, and I see the benefits of completing it. But in daily practice, I always seem to find excuses for not doing it, or putting off my work.”

Here’s where most go wrong. Given this problem, they stop altogether.

They read a self-help book on motivation, or perhaps go to a therapist, and expect to find a way to have “motivation” somehow inserted into their psyche all at once.

They start to use self-analysis and thought as a substitute for action — rather than a supplement to action.

They overlook the fact that a lot of life is sheer self-discipline, will and organization.

These concepts are absolute heresy in today’s culture, thanks largely to decades of work on the part of psychologists (and others) to help make sure that these concepts become heresy. But the notions of self-discipline and sheer action nonetheless retain enormous objective validity. Most of the psychologists and Oprahs of the world — telling you that free will and self-discipline are overrated — have exercised a lot of these traits in their own lives, and in their own successes.

Don’t misunderstand: Motivation is not irrelevant to human behavior. Sometimes better understanding motivational issues is crucial to moving ahead in an area where you feel blocked.

But take it from a mental health professional who sees these issues all the time: in most cases, motivational problems start with poor self-discipline and organization. Lacking in these areas can, in turn, lead to motivational problems.

In other words, failing to structure your day and organize yourself will lead to a greater number of failures; and failures are not good for motivation. But that doesn’t mean that the solution is to seek out motivation from external forces. You still have to do the work yourself, and most often the motivation you desire will start to follow.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

Have a comment?

Post your response in our Capitalism Community on X.

Related articles

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Are the Democrats betraying Israel?

Both Biden and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, promised that they had Israel’s back, but it now appears that they are painting a target on its back at a time of its greatest vulnerability.

Memorial Day: What We Owe Our Soldiers

Memorial Day: What We Owe Our Soldiers

To send soldiers into war without a clear self-defense purpose, and without providing them every possible protection, is a betrayal of their valor and a violation of their rights.

No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

Pin It on Pinterest