Motivation isn’t the solution; motivation is the problem. Please, let me explain. The belief that you need motivation to take action is going to prevent you from forming any habits. Motivation isn’t an effective strategy for long-term behavior change for two reasons. Motivation fluctuates from day to day and tends to decrease over time. Habits not only fly under the radar of our conscious brain, but they also fly under the radar of our emotions. Just like we savor the first bite of our meal more than the last, we tend to be less motivated the more times we repeat a routine. Boredom is the biggest obstacle to excellence. A lot of people hit the gym for two or three weeks, then lose their motivation to go and quit. They blame their lack of motivation, but it is their belief that they need to be motivated to go that is the problem. So, if motivation isn’t the solution, what is?
Before I answer that question, let me ask you a question. Why do you go to work each day? Is it motivation? Are you motivated to go to work every single day? Probably not, but it isn’t motivation that keeps you coming back; it is willpower. Willpower is nothing more than doing what you know needs to be done when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. Willpower is more reliable than motivation, and unlike motivation, willpower increases over time. Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist and foremost expert on self-control, has demonstrated that willpower can be developed like a muscle, making it a more solid foundation for the establishment of habits.[i]
Many people already know what they need to do, but change can be hard because our existing routines are comfortable and familiar. Fortunately, change doesn’t have to be difficult. Armed with the strategies in our book, you’ll learn how to interrupt bad habits and replace them with good ones. Not by sheer force of will, but applying an approach that understands the psychology of human behavior. Too many motivational speakers simply tell us, “You’ve got to want it.” That isn’t a strategy; it’s an ultimatum. While I believe we should take ownership of our results, where is their ownership? If you fail to achieve results, they’ll blame your failure on your lack of desire when you really lacked an effective strategy. I am going to assume you want to lose body fat and transform your body because you’re reading this. I don’t know how bad you want it, but I don’t need to know. Any effective habit-building strategy isn’t going to rely too much on motivation or willpower. We cannot count on either one consistently, and consistency is the one thing we must have to build a new habit. Our subconscious brain learns to repetition. We must condition it as we would an animal. It is, after all, the primitive part of our brain, sometimes called the reptilian brain. Like an animal, it is powerful and intuitive, but it can be very impulsive and is prone to making decisions that sacrifice what we want MOST for what we want NOW. Learn how to create good habits, and you will not need motivation.
[i] Muraven, Mark, Roy F. Baumeister, and Dianne M. Tice. “Longitudinal Improvement of Self-Regulation Through Practice: Building Self-Control Strength Through Repeated Exercise.” The Journal of Social Psychology 139.4 (1999): 446-57.