[Book Club] My 6 Lessons from the book “The Motivation Myth”

Motivation hits like a sugar rush: “it feels great but it is impossible to maintain, and when you come down you actually feel worse“. With this bold conclusion at the book’s 2nd page, Jeff Haden teases the reader into revisiting its individual understanding of the word “Motivation”.

(Although summarising books is not this blog's focus, this gem from Jeff Haden, in fact, deeply connects to principles related to Adventure Traveling, Nomadism and Minimalism. Hope you enjoy!)

When it comes to executing projects, tracking goals (at work or life in general), or even “chasing after our dreams”, we usually expect that an internal and transcendental magic spark come and hit us, so we can start (or continue) our efforts. That spark is usually known as MOTIVATION.

At times, when we’re feeling unproductive or inefficient at something, we tend to blame it on motivation, or the lack of it (when in reality, most of the times we’re just sitting for hours on a couch, watching Netflix). And the question always comes: Why even continuing it, if I’m still not feeling motivated?

As part of one of my 2021 resolutions (reading 2 books a month), somehow I’ve landed on reading Jeff Haden‘s “Motivation Myth”, which made me question and rebuild my whole understanding of what Motivation is, and how it really works.

Haden’s main premise is simple: Motivation is not a precondition, but a result. A result that you get from achieving smaller successes, which will lead to more motivation, leading to more success, and that turns to be an infinite cycle of success and achievements.

Jeff Haden’s Motivation Myth – Success Cycle, driven by small achievements which lead to first successes, leading to motivation.

Setting plans to becoming an Expat, a full time traveler, a digital nomad or even a minimalist, might seem too distant, and the barriers may look huge. That being said, I’ve highlighted the 6 main learnings I had from “The Motivation Myth”, which could support (at least it supported me) on setting proper goals and stop blaming on motivation!

1.) Motivation is a Result, not a Precondition

One of the book’s main messages is that motivation is not a prerequisite, but in fact, a result coming from the achievement of small levels of success.

Watching a motivational video, loudly singing an emotional song, getting hyped by screaming with your officemates: those can bring you some instantaneous motivation, but in reality, that “sugar rush” won’t last long.

Real and long lasting motivation will come from small achievements, which will generate small dopamine doses. That will lead to more motivation, which will lead to more achievements, which will lead to more success… and the cycle goes on.

“You feel motivated because you took action. Motivation is a Result, not a Precondition. You don’t need motivation to break a sweat. Break a sweat, and you’ll feel motivated.”

Jeff Haden, Motivation Myth.

2.) The goal will be the one to define the Process (and then, TRUST the Process)

Setting ambitious and challenging targets can really be a motivation driver for us. But when we set, let’s say, a 1 year plan, and we compare the early days’ achievements to the end goal, that end point seem to look very far, right?

Haden’s point is simple: “You will never give yourself positive feedback if you constantly complain yourself with the end goal.” That’s where setting a process, one that is aligned to your goals, becomes so important.

After setting your goals, FORGET ABOUT THEM. Focus on the Process!

“You realize that all you have to do is find the right process, work the process, and enjoy the feeling of success and resulting motivation you get from constant improvement (because if you follow the right process, you will constantly improve).”

Jeff Haden, Motivation Myth.

3.) The amazing power of “To Do Lists”

I was never used to planning my days. I mean, keeping an organised Google Schedule for work was always there – but aside from that, I used to believe that “seizing” the day depended on NOT having a To Do list for each day.

Though, when you have long term goals, a couple of mid term goals and a bunch of short term ones, not managing those daily achievements could easily trigger anxiety. Or even just a feeling of “Oh my, I’m doing a lot of things and still I’m not getting any closer”.

Recently I started my daily To Do list planning. From “Working out” to “washing the dishes”, each and every one of the “checks” I accomplish in my day provide me with a small dopamine shot. And the feeling of being the owner of my time, that I’m on track on managing those 24 hours, is really a life changer.

“Accomplishing something, no matter how small the task, makes us feel better about ourselves. That’s why to-do lists are so popular. Many people write down really easy tasks – or tasks they’ve already completed – just so they can scratch them off.”

Jeff Haden, Motivation Myth.

4.) Focus on being a Serial Achiever

When the cycle of Success – Motivation – More Success -… hits you, and if that’s aligned yo your goals – well, you’re now an achiever, to some extent. And in Haden’s perspective, being a serial achiever is one of the best ways to achieving happiness.

And I’m somehow (actually a lot) aligned to that perspective. Not only being a serial achiever in professional goals/ life, but also, in personal goals and projects.

Accumulating skills and successes is never too much – being world class at something is not easy – work too hard at something, and other aspects of your life will suffer the impact. In that case, it’s important to become a serial achiever in lots of life aspects – fitness, professional, family, relationships.

“Being a serial achiever is the best way to live a full, satisfying and successful professional life and personal life” 

Jeff Haden, Motivation Myth.

5.) Motivation doesn’t bring any shortcuts

This is a quick one. Kind of a cliche as well, but still relevant. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS to success. No easy ways to achieving.

The only way is the hard way – and that demands planning, self improvement, expectation alignments, process setting, and of course, ACTION/ EXECUTION.

It’s always easy to set a goal and wait for it to happen. That is the easy way. And that will also easily lead to frustrations, anxiety, blame outsourcing.

“To accomplish anything worthwhile, and especially to achieve a goal others say is impossible, you have to work your ass off. There are no shortcuts. The only way is the hard way.”

Jeff Haden, Motivation Myth.

6.) Turning success into something predictable

Have you ever heard about the “10 thousand hours rule”? In a nutshell, Malcom Gladwell popularised this concept in his bestseller “Outliers: The Story of Success”, where he states that, in order to become an expert at any given field, all you need is 10 thousand hours of proper practice.

Although it can sound a bit generic, 10 thousand hours would cover 416 full days of full dedication, or almost 1250 days on 8 hours dedication (almost 3.5 years). There aren’t many things you wouldn’t learn if you’d focus that amount of time for it.

And the 10 thousand hour rule somehow connects to a point that Haden reinforces: practice and repetition are key to keep successes coming up – and again, if aligned to the process, and the latest being aligned to the goal, it would be actually possible to turn success into something predictable.

“When you consistently do the right things, success is predictable. Success is inevitable.” 

Jeff Haden, Motivation Myth.

Setting ambitious goals is quite an amazing thing – missing them due to lack of proper process and aligned expectations, is quite a disappointment.

I could easily say that Haden’s ideas deeply impacted both my professional and personal projects’ planning. And when it comes to making an international move, although that could look super far from the present moment, it’s definitely not impossible.

Have you ever tried setting a process for your goals? How about starting with something small, like a to do list for tomorrow?

Published by Gui Porto

Traveler, wanderer, minimalist, tech enthusiast. What am I thinking right now?

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