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Sharing what I know about type-based illustration while helping creatives do their best work

Why Motivation is Not What You Need

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We have a family group chat on Whatsapp and the second youngest (15) asked us older guys…

“How do you motivate yourselves?”  

As someone whose goal is to provide experiential knowledge on creativity and creating your best work, this was the perfect opportunity to teach what I know.

At first I planned to send an in-depth, introductory chapter with bullet points and sub headings into what motivation means. But I realised, she was less likely to remember what I had planned to write so here’s what I said instead...

Motivation is not what you need, it’s discipline. Only through doing the thing you need to do you’ll find the motivation.

I turned my original idea into a blog post right here and hopefully she’ll be able take away something useful from this post. Hopefully you reading, will too!

Rewind five years.

I’m half way through my final major project, research, sketches, concept art all done. I was all good with hitting deadlines and giving myself margin to refine and refine some more. But when confronted with a writing task such as an essay, I’d say to myself “nah, this is long” in my then East-London accent.

How did I still keep up with deadlines when I didn’t enjoy writing back then?

Because I decided to just make a start. I could have finished those essays sooner, but I chose not to.

This Is Something I Do

Say to yourself “This is something I do” rather than “I have to do this”

Think about your daily routine. There are tasks like brushing your teeth—that’s what you do. I pack my bags the night before, because that’s what I do.

When you say “I could” you’re giving yourself the option to not do the task. And saying “I should”  sounds like an obligation.

Saying “I will” sounds more authoritative. You’re now in control.

Announce Your Commitment In Public

A useful tip that has helped with the idea of motivation is to announce your commitment in public.

For example, I used to upload blog posts on Sunday but have now changed to every Friday I will have a new blog post out. I put the commitment out there and now the expectation has been set.

Instead of blogging as something I have to do, writing a blog post every week is what I do. It’s just part of my routine. 

I’m now into my fifth month publishing weekly on this blog! Woop! 

I’ve typed and deleted the following sentence several times, but my gut is saying go forth…

Excuses are BS.

Yep. That felt good. You’re not “motivated” because you’re making the choice to do something else. If you’re tired, but you end up checking Facebook feeds, playing a video game you made a choice to do those things.  

Don’t think it’s a chore, don’t think it’s a job. I’m not saying this is how you should think but it’s the mindset that I want to get across.

If you really want to succeed, you have to do the things normal people are not willing to do.

I repeat.

You have to do the things normal people are not willing to do. And you can’t achieve big dreams if you’re doing "normal" things.

I suggest:

  • Make a choice.
  • Start creating content.
  • Say “this is what I do”.
  • Announce your commitment publicly.

Discipline is what you need to start—not motivation.

I think I sounded pretty harsh in this week’s blog, but I’m dead serious that you don’t need motivation to start. It’s just too easy to say “I’m doing this *insert task* today” and then procrastinate. Where's the discipline?   

Motivation isn’t something that just appears, you have to cultivate it through a simple step. Start with the doing.

Three Actions You Can Take Right Now

  • Usually we think of the many excuses why you “can’t be asked” to start something. Think of the result of completing this task and what it would mean to you.
  • Maybe on third or fourth time you may find the motivation.  If on the fourth time you’re not feeling it or if starts feeling like a chore, it’s okay move onto another project for the time being. Try again. 
  • Motivation is a result of habit. Stay consistent with your pursuit and schedule time to practice your craft. 
 

 

So how did this make you feel? Are you struggling with staying motivated these days? I’m interested to hear your thoughts @jaytenart

Alright! Take care!