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New goals do not deliver results. Unique lifestyles have results.

The Misconception of Motivation

We do this dance every year. We plot out how we want our lives to be different, wait two weeks, and then return to our everyday routines. Our ‘this is going to be the year’ speech we give ourselves in the mirror inevitably falls flat.

Not failure per se. But, we end the year thinking, ‘Wow, same NYE, same me.’ How do we change?

We change by actually changing.

It may seem counterintuitive, but we get the motivation factor backward daily. We tend to incorrectly assume that once we are motivated to do something, we will start doing it, and a magic 80’s movie montage will occur in our lives and POOF; we will be forever transformed into the beautiful butterfly we always knew we were supposed to be.

Obviously, if I have already mentioned that this method is incorrect, it begs us to answer the question: what will get us motivated and actually make a change in our lives? It turns out that where we need to do better is in assuming that change is a function of our motivation.

Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability

The logical fallacy here is that being ‘motivated’ leaves us open to extreme vulnerabilities.

If I am motivated when I am in a good mood, what happens when life gets messy? What happens when I get into a bad mood? What happens when there is a death in the family? Divorce? Economic downturn?

When we rely on our motivations to accomplish LITERALLY anything, we are setting ourselves up to fail. From that moment forward, the only way motivation can continue to help us is when things go our way. When we deal with life, things will inevitably go wrong. Life is messy. Life is sometimes chaotic. Life is sometimes less than the Instagram perfection we pretend to live. But life is also beautiful. It is unpredictably good. The kindness of a stranger can turn even your most down days into a good one.

Constructing a Lifestyle of Decisiveness

So. How do we close the loop on our performance vulnerabilities? The answer, like most things in life, is simple. You. Do. The. Thing.

Amelia Earhart was famous for quipping that you must do the thing.

Our brothers and sisters across the pond tend to say, ‘Get on with it.’

And there is beauty in this simplicity. You do not need motivation. You need action.

Goals (motivation) do not accomplish tasks or lead to success. Lifestyle (actions) do.

Do you want to be a writer? Good. Write.

Do you want to be a better communicator? Good. Start talking to more people.

Do you want to lose weight? Good. Go to the gym.

Do you want to be healthier? Good. Eat better foods.

The list goes on and on and on.

What remains is a simple fact. If you want to accomplish anything in life, you do it. Goals are not there to guide you. They are the yes/no questions you must ask yourself each day.

A Framework for Self-Leadership

Is (option A) something that a person who wants to (accomplishment A) do?

You can apply the framework to any situation in your life.

Do you want to be a better leader?

Is (engaging in negative office gossip) something that a person who (is a leader) does?

Is (eating this donut) something a (healthy) person would do?

It boils down to self-leadership and asking yourself the right questions. There is no motivation to get in the way of such a straightforward framework. You either answer yes or no and repeat. Life ultimately comes down to a series of yes or no questions. If we can simplify the questions we ask ourselves, we can free up more mental space to achieve what we want.

Ask the Right Questions

Your lifestyle will get you where you want to be. Not your goals or motivations. Your lifestyle is comprised of the questions you ask yourself each day. The problem is that we have a pesky habit of not asking ourselves the right questions. We focus on the plan of action and the process itself rather than looking at the big picture.

Step back, look global, and ask yourself the right questions. Is this something a person would do?

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