Is Motivation the Key to Success?
April 17, 2018
Motivation is thought by many to be one of the main keys to success. If you have it, it’s much easier to endure the hours and hours of practice required to master a new groove, a lick, rudiment, etc. You have the goal in front of you and you are going for it, no matter what.

Unfortunately, we all know that motivation is not always present in our lives. No matter how badly we want something, there will be periods when we just don’t have the motivation to do what we want to do. The odds of you being strongly motivated, every day, for longer than a month, are very slim. That’s why relying on motivation to push you through the grueling tasks you have to endure, is not only a mistake, but it’s a mistake that may cost you dearly.

The Problem
Our brains are designed to avoid doing things that are difficult, scary or stressful. As a self-defense mechanism, the brain will simply convince itself that it’s better to stay away from activities that are potentially harmful. The problem is that simple things like learning something new, exercising, starting a new activity, all fall under the category of “potentially harmful”. Your brain literally considers that a threat to its current state, and will try to keep you from doing those things at any cost.

What we refer to as motivation is a shot of dopamine released in the brain, causing a pleasing sensation, making you excited, and providing a heightened sense of anticipation. That is why a lot of people will tell you that the best way to stay motivated and focused on your goal is to envision yourself achieving it. By doing that, you stimulate your brain in the same way that it would be stimulated if you were actually achieving the goal in real life. The result is a release of dopamine, causing the effects previously described. Using this type of method to stay motivated is a problem because your brain will slowly become desensitized to dopamine, making it more and more difficult to achieve the same level of excitement over time. The results can be catastrophic, ranging from irritability to depression, not to mention that the motivation you were seeking will be long gone.

The Solution
The solution is quite simple but can be very difficult to execute. Below are a few steps to help regain control:

Step 1: Forget about motivation. You will never feel like doing difficult things, it will never become easy to face fears, take risks, etc. Motivation will be present every once in a while, and when it is present it will be a great boost to help you continue to move forward, but you should never expect it, wait for it or count on it.

Step 2: Join the dance and give your brain what it wants. You can’t be fighting your brain all the time, not only it wouldn’t be healthy, but it also wouldn’t bring the results you want. The best workaround is to create a habit. Although it will react negatively to a new activity at first, in time, and with consistency, your brain will adapt to it and let the guard down. From my experience, this is the only way to get anything mid and long-term done. The first few days will feel like absolute hell, every excuse imaginable will pop into your mind to make you stop working, practicing, studying, etc. As the days go by it will become easier, a few weeks in and it will feel even easier. Eventually, it will become a new habit, and your brain will not fight it anymore.

Motivation is not an essential ingredient to success, but it can be a great ally if you know how to use it in your favor. Once you learn how to function without it, you will be the master of your destiny.
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