“Motivation is Garbage” by Mel Robbins. You’re Welcome.

We put motivation on a pedestal.

You know what else is on pedestals?

 a meer cat reaching for something difficult to reach

Things that are difficult to reach.

Not literal pedestals—because those are usually waist level—but do you see what I’m saying here?

It’s this: turns out we have motivation all wrong. In fact, motivation is garbage. And that’s okay.

Allow me to tell you why…Actually, no. I could, but I wouldn’t do nearly as good of job as Mel Robbins. I mentioned her bomb speech on Impact Theory a couple weeks ago in a Roundup, but as I’m a writer, I felt the need to write it out.

This woman is a beast, so read her book The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday CourageThe title is long, but five seconds is short. Not so short they can’t change your life, though.

Read on and let this sink in. It’s an idea that will never leave you once it hits. Like herpes, but awesome.

Disclaimer: This is a loosely verbatim transcription to which I have no rights. I’ve omitted short sentences more suited to live speech and taken out connector words like “um.”


Mel Robbins: “Motivation is Garbage”

“At some point we all bought into this lie that you’ve got to feel ready in order to change.

We bought into this complete falsehood that at some point you’re gonna have the courage. At some point you’re gonna have the confidence. And it’s total bullsh*t, frankly

You have these incredible ideas and what you think is missing is motivation…that’s not true. The way our minds are wired and the fact about human beings is that we are not designed to do things that are uncomfortable, scary, or difficult.

Our brains are designed to protect us from those things because our brains are trying to keep us alive.

And in order to change, in order to build a business, in order to be the best parent, the best spouse—to do all those things that you know you want to do with your life, with your work, with your dreams—you’re going to have to do things that are difficult, uncertain, or scary.

Which sets up this problem for all of us: You’re never gonna feel like it.

motivation garbage trash pile in grass

Motivation’s garbage.

You only feel motivated to do the things that are easy…

Why is it so hard to do the little things that would improve [your] life?

The way that our minds are designed is to stop you—at all costs—from doing anything that might hurt you…

The way this all happens is it all starts with something super subtle that none of us ever catch, and that is with this habit that all of us have that nobody’s talking about: We all have a habit of hesitating.

We have an idea…and instead of just saying it, we stop and hesitate…

What none of us realize is that when you hesitate, just that moment—that micro-moment—that small hesitation sends a stress signal to your brain. It wakes your brain up and your brain all of a sudden goes:

‘Oh, wait a minute—w-why is he hesitating?…Something must be up.’

So then your brain works to protect you.  It has a million different ways to protect you. One of them is called the Spotlight Effect. It’s a known phenomenon where your brain magnifies risk—why?—to pull you away from something that it perceives to be a problem.

And so: 

You can truly trace every single problem or complaint in your life to silence and hesitation. Those are decisions.

And what I do and what’s changed my life is waking up and realizing that motivation is garbage.

I’m never gonna feel like doing the things that are tough or difficult or uncertain or scary or new, so I need to stop waiting until I feel like it.

I am one decision away from a totally different life…

Your life comes down to your decisions, and if you change your decisions, you will change everything.”

(the end)

coffee mug saying on by computer

In short:

Motivation psychology has gotten us all mixed up. It’s an issue of semantics:

What we are truly seeking is not motivation, but rather our inherent ability to just do things. Chutzpah.

Yes, the two are similar; no, they are not the same. You want more? Help yourself to her book, The 5 Second Rule.

Let’s put the right titles on the forces that drive us. The more honesty we apply to the psycho-physiological forces that guide us, the less room for confusion. You can’t argue truth (unless you’re the current president).

I spend a lot of time back-and-forthing things in my brain, so rather than waste mental energy wondering when and if motivation will hit, I’m going to try to remove “motivation” from my vocabulary. 

Instead of, “I don’t feel motivated, I better wait” I’ll be forced to say, “I’m choosing to be a scumbag.” Honesty hurts.

If we give credit to “motivation” for enabling us to accomplish tasks, we’re giving power to something outside of ourselves.

The truth is that it’s us. And it has probably always been us, just doing things when things need to be done.  

So don’t wait for motivation. You already have what you need.


What do you think? Am I alone on no-motivation island? Leave a comment! Get an email when I post something new!

Photocred: photopin.com

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