Do All the Motivational Quotes Really Help?

Motivational quotes may make you feel good for about 5 minutes, but then you realize you're sitting on your computer trying to find the motivation to do something instead of actually doing something. I feel like, somewhere deep inside us, we want one of these motivational quotes to be the "magic pill" that will cause an irreversible paradigm shift -- we want these quotes to give us a lifetime's supply of motivation.
They won't.
First of all, most of us are looking to build new habits with motivation. Here's the best way to build a new habit: do the smallest thing possible to build your habit every day. Just start it and declare victory for yourself.
If it's running, just put your running gear on and get your ass out the door. If it's going to the gym, do the same thing. If it's flossing, make a pact with yourself to floss one tooth. Trust that the rest will follow. In my experience, we have a huge resistance to starting things rather than actually doing them. If you make starting a success, you feel good about yourself, regardless of how much you do, and you start to build the habit with a very low investment of time and energy. Sure, you might not do much in the beginning, but if you keep the habit, over time, you'll start to do more and more. It only takes baby steps.
It's a simple principle, but it works wonders for building a habit. Do it for 30 days and you should be golden. Ultimately, we don't want to have to rely on motivation to take action forever. Instead, what we want to do is build a habit so we don't have to rely on motivation. With a habit, things happen more or less automatically.
Similarly, if you have a system for managing your life, you'll be much more efficient in your planning and execution. I picked up Agile Results a couple of weeks ago and I really like it. Check it out if you're interested -- it's by far the best productivity system that I've come across.
Another principle that's super simple and very effective is finding someone to hold you accountable. The idea is, if you're afraid of disappointing someone else, you'll be more likely to follow through on your promise. This idea manifests itself in having someone be your gym buddy or hiring a personal trainer. Even giving a small amount of money ($5 or $10) to your mate and telling them to not give you your money back unless you go to the gym or meditate for 30 minutes or whatever habit you're trying to build can be a tremendous motivator.
I think we need to change our behavior in order to change our attitudes. The act of smiling makes you feel better. Taking action makes you feel more motivated.
One last thing: taking action isn't sexy. It's not easy, as we all know. It's difficult. There will be voices in your head telling you to stop. Ignore them. Keep going, keep plugging away, and you will be rewarded.
As humans, we overestimate how much we can get done in a day but underestimate how much we can get done in a year. Today's workout might not matter much in the grand scheme of things; continuing a workout routine for a month or a year or 5 years is vastly more important. Focus more on the long-term and your consistency rather than your day-to-day activities. If you slip up once or twice in building a habit, that's okay. Don't beat yourself up. Nobody's perfect and it's not the end of the world if you aren't, either. Start the next day, focusing on building healthy habits that last a lifetime.


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