“If it’s important you’ll find a way. If it’s not you’ll find an excuse.”

A local magazine, Fargo INC. recently published a special issue featuring several professionals from the F-M area. As a friend of the Fargo INC crew, I was included, along with a quote on what topic I’d give a TED talk.

To spare you the full quote, my TED talk would be about motivation – specifically, my belief that motivation isn’t a real thing.

Because I will never actually give a TED talk, I thought I’d further explain my thoughts on the myth of motivation and the power of good choice. Keep this in mind too as you enter into New Year’s, whether a full-on Resolution or the feeling of a fresh start.

The Myth of Motivation

Cutting straight to it, here’s the deal: Motivation, in the way nearly everyone thinks of it, doesn’t exist. And the two places it often ends up existing aren’t where it belongs: As a way and as an excuse. Read on for more.

Where It All Began
The first time I remember being annoyed by the idea of motivation was when I was running a lot, after a few marathons under my belt, and the comments I frequently heard.

“I wish I had your motivation.”
“I just need to get motivated to work out.”
“If I could find the motivation, I’d run, too.”

The fact that I ran, and ran marathons in particular, wasn’t because I was one of the lucky few who “had” or “found” motivation on a regular basis. It’s because I made choices.

I made the choice to commit to a training lifestyle that often meant being home by 9 on Friday nights and up by 5 on Saturday mornings.

I made the choice to be diligent about my workouts, no matter if I was tired or sick, or what other excuse I could have come up with to skip out.

I made the choice to work hard. Period.

Assuming I had some kind of magic dose of motivation that enabled me to maintain fitness kind of pissed me off. Almost like it took away from the sacrifices, hard work, focus, and commitment I chose to put in every day.

What It Is, What It Isn’t
Motivation isn’t a measured or quantified. Mine isn’t greater than yours and yours isn’t less than mine.

OCR – proof that we do things by choice, not motivation

Motivation isn’t a possession. I don’t have something that you’re lacking. (If I did, I could have bottled, sold, and used it to become a millionaire by now.)

Motivation isn’t something that’s lost and found. It’s not your car keys, mate to the single sock that came out of the dryer, or that favorite old t-shirt your wife tried to hide.

In short, it’s not real. It’s a concept, a word thrown around to replace a simple act of making choices.

It’s like the quote above states, if it’s important you’ll find a way – you will, not motivation. Likewise, if it’s not important, you’ll find an excuse – again, not motivation’s (or lack of it) fault, your choice. Too often, motivation is mistaken for a way or an excuse when it’s really our own choices and personal responsibility that result in what we do or don’t do.

The next time you’re quick to blame motivation for your failure to make a good choice, don’t. Own up to the actual reason you didn’t.

The next time you’re quick to credit motivation for the great workout you crushed, don’t. Recognize you did that. Just you.

Where do you stand on the idea of motivation? Share a comment or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Be sure to include the hasthtag #wellirl.

Check out the full December issue of Fargo INC.


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