“Ugh, I gotta get up,” I said to myself as another episode started within three seconds of the last one ending…without my permission. “Alright, I’m gonna go get some work done after this episode.” Of course, the episode ends on a cliffhanger that leaves me more motivated to find out what happens rather than go send emails. “Alright, when I figure out what happens, I’m gonna turn the TV off.” Geez, why am I still on the couch three hours later?
The Decision Train
There are going to be days when you really don’t feel motivated to do anything. Motivation sucks because we rely on it too much to get things done, which means when we don’t feel motivated, we don’t get anything done. Or, we need help to do it. On days when you feel like doing nothing, you can actually bypass your brain’s “need” for motivation so you can get things done regardless of how you feel.
It all starts with a concept referenced as The Decision Train. The Decision Train goes like this:
Feelings ? Decision ? Action
People who have trouble getting things done because they lack the motivation, follow this train the way that you see it above. They wait until they feel like getting the task done, which leads them to (eventually) decide to do it and, finally, take action.
Top performers instead, skip the feeling part of the train and go straight to deciding to get the task done. By doing so, they take action faster and, as a result, get things done faster. Now, this is more than a roundabout way of saying “just do it”.
“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.” – Socrates
Another way of looking at this process is by using another variation of The Decision Train:
Inspiration ? Motivation ? Decision ? Action
Inspiration is described as, “The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.” Motivation is described as, “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” So, in this decision train, the “Feelings” part is inspiration and motivation. People will wait until they feel mentally stimulated to get something done, which leads to motivation. The motivation serves as a reminder of why they wanted to get the task done in the first place or, in other words, the incentive(s) they would gain from completing the task. This leads them to, by the end of this long train, decide to take action and eventually take it.
By cutting out the feeling—the “need” for inspiration and motivation—you can decide to take action first. After having completed the task, the sense of pride you feel from having followed through on the decision—the mental commitment—that you made to yourself builds motivation to complete another task. To say this another way, taking action builds momentum that leads to the motivation to take more action.
Start Getting (Really) Motivated Today
That being said, no one is born a top performer, which means that you may need inspiration and motivation (the Feelings part of the train) to serve as a nudge every now and then until you can fully adopt this approach to productivity. So, for starters, inspiration is your WHY. It’s your purpose—your mission. By discovering and getting clarity on the mission that you’re on, you can more easily inspire yourself (as well as others on the same mission) to action.
As far as motivation, these are referenced as the Four Areas That Drive People: Advancement, Individual, Madness, and Purpose. People motivated by Advancement are motivated by reaching new heights (getting that next promotion, reaching goals as a team, and so on). People motivated by Individual, view and utilize their personal goals as their most effective source of motivation (achieving a certain lifestyle, gaining recognition, reaching full life security). People driven by Madness are driven by factors like opposition, competition, proving others wrong, and other unconventional elements. Lastly, people driven by Purpose are motivated by making an impact, helping others, being apart of creating change, and other drivers of that nature.
You can leverage both of the elements of inspiration and motivation to become more productive, more focused, and a step closer to becoming a top performer. When I was struggling to stay motivated, I started by recognizing my WHY and all of the incentives I would gain from the achievement of my goals.
“If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk
When I would come across any task that I didn’t really feel like doing, I would ask myself if they would help me achieve my mission—my purpose—or not. I would ask myself if getting that task done would help me get the motivating incentives I was working toward. If the answer was no, I would cut it out of my to-do list. If the answer was yes, I would make the decision to go do it and start working before I could talk myself out of it. Make that same decision to go and achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself and you’ll be scratching off your goals in no time.