Motivation is Unnecessary

“How do I motivate myself?” “I need a purpose to give me motivation.” “I don’t have anything I want to strive for, if I only I was motivated.”

I am sure you have seen such sentiments echoed by others, if not sharing them yourself. The truth is, motivation is not necessary for achievement. It is not uncommon that one burns out along the way if motivation is the sole thing keeping them going.

I don’t even feel particularly motivated writing this now, but I am doing it anyway, as I feel as though I have an important point to make and should write it down before I lose it in the waters of my churning mind. I don’t feel the need to publish this, although I likely will. Having my own thoughts in a legible format that I can reference to is reason enough for me to write this, and I do it for myself with no tangible benefit beyond the sole fact that I am doing it, that and perhaps bettering my writing over time as a consequence.

Think of all the menial, begrudging day-to-day tasks others, and likely yourself, engage in. Employees force themselves to go to their job and gripe about it, or take care of chores and obligations that they don’t want to. Most are not driven by motivation to do these things, unless you count the underlying fear of where they would end up if they did not do them. That is not something that might constantly remain in the back of their head however, unless they are very poor or in a situation such as being on probation.

One can take the time and think of the things that would be good for them, or that they would want, but lack the motivation to attain. They ought to push themselves to do those things, in the same way they’d push through doing a shitty job that would leave them in a worse situation if they did not do it. Force of will is what gets one do things moreso than motivation ever could by itself.

Most people are afraid of taking meaningful risks, and hold the system they live in close to themselves for comfort like an old, musty blanket. That is why few of them go outside of the system and attempt to attain what they want. Not everyone who takes a risk will be able to succeed or end up in a better place than before. But you don’t need motivation to take a risk. All you need is the thought “If I do this, is it possible that I will end up closer to my goals, or some place more meaningful than I am now?”. Even things that are not so risky, may seem like an unacceptable risk to people who afraid of leaving the system they are in – it is the fear of the unknown that is prime.

All of this is not to say that motivation is useless, or it cannot be helpful. Even a small burst of it can give one the small push that they need to get started. But you cannot force yourself to be motivated if you do not feel like that motivation will ever come to you. Motivated and shrewd people can get what they want, as can unmotivated and shrewd people.

I feel as though the majority of those who try to consider this will fail to understand. They see motivation as an intrinsic need to rationalize striving for the things they want or know that would be better for them, or deny that they lack motivation when they push through the grind of their daily life, where it apparent that they have none. Their willpower is generally quite low; the drudgery they experience is compensated with cheap, easily attainable dopamine hits, which are not rewarding outside of the emotions it makes them feel.

If you’ve thought “I feel terrible and hopeless, but I will make myself do what I think will help me.”, perhaps you will have an easier time understanding this. If you force yourself to do things with will, your motivation will take a backseat. Although motivation is unnecessary, relying on motivation as a crutch is worse. There have been many times where I have lost motivation to do something, and given up because that is all I relied on.

In short, your will matters more than your motivation. If you lack the former, then you will have nothing to fall back on when you run out of the latter. If you have will but not motivation, you can keep going, and hope you develop the motivation down the road. Conversely, losing your will is much more serious than losing your motivation.