Motivation won’t get you there

5 July 2016 | Business Thoughts

A special person once said to me that when it comes to diet and exercise, vanity will only get you so far.

So too I think of what we choose to do with our lives and our businesses. Motivation will only get you so far, and often, not through the hard bits. 

Good habits coupled with constant consistency – that’s what really stretches your road.

We often get this wrong by confusing doing (the stuff that executes results) with being busy. Busyness feels like action – except generally it doesn’t produce outcomes. The ones you really want that is.

Steve Blank once had this story of his staff ::

One of Jim’s favorite phrases was, “I got the ball rolling with account x.” He thought that the activities he was doing – making calls, setting up meetings, etc. – was his job. In reality they had nothing to do with his job. His real job – the action – was to get the software moved onto our machine. Everything he had done to date was just the motion to get the process rolling. And so far the motion hadn’t accomplished anything. He was confusing “the accounting” of the effort with achieving the goal. But Jim felt that since he was doing lots of motion, “lots of stuff was happening.” In reality we hadn’t gotten any closer to our goal than the day we hired him. We had accomplished nothing – zero, zilch, nada. 

When I explained this to him, the conversation got heated. “I’ve been working my tail off for the last two months…” When he calmed down, I asked him how much had gotten accomplished. He started listing his activities again. I stopped him and reminded him that I could have hired anyone to set up meetings, but I had brought him in to get the software onto our machine. “How much progress have we made to that goal?”  “Not much,” he admitted.

At home this shows up in actually running the loads of washing, drying them and folding them away vs putting all the washing into piles in the laundry.

For looking and feeling good, that’s waking up at the alarm three days a week to go for the run not just buying the joggers, hiring the trainer and moving your schedule around to fit it all in.

In business that means going to the meeting, pitching your idea and landing the project rather than emailing 10 prospects.

For client work that’s ticking off those 5 annoying things on your to-do list that finish the project rather than replying to your emails all day.

That’s action vs the busyness of inaction. 

And no matter how much motivation you have, eventually that will cave. For a day. For a week. For a Summer or Winter or the year. Which is where your habits take over. They’re automated routine you’ve practised. Your fallback when all the other tricks don’t work.

Things that get me into the routine of result-producing-action (and I’m prone to falling off the rails!)…

  1. Scheduling in items to my calendar such as replying to communications 1x per day (i.e emails, project management etc) so the rest of the day is free for the true actions that create outcomes
  2. Holding myself to accountable routines (i.e blog post, email letter, stockist campaign on Thursday each week)
  3. Setting up practises to get me moving into the right action (i.e I boil some water, set a pot of chai, curl up in my corner and write for at least 30 minutes)

Make all of that non-negotiable. You create the habits. You set the routines. You get the outcomes and celebrate with little warm showers, dinners with friends…and eventually those big dreams.

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