Psychology

The Trap of Seeking Motivational Words

Written by Eduard Ezeanu

Books, blogs, websites, DVDs, trainings and speeches. There are enough sources for motivational words out there to keep you pumped a lifetime. But, do you need that? Is using them constantly a good idea?

motivational_wordsI remember something Zig Ziglar said about motivation: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” If the idea here is simply that of daily motivation, I think he’s right. But if the subtext is that of looking daily for words of wisdom from others to get yourself motivated in a certain area (and it probably is), Zig may be the man is some aspects, but I disagree with him on this one.

I believe seeking motivational words daily, in the same area, over and over again, actually reflects there is something wrong with your personal development process. Here’s why. What is the role of motivational words? It is:

  • To make you more aware of the benefits certain actions offer;
  • To get you exited and motivated to act in that certain way.

However, there is only so far motivational words which come from other people can sustain you in the process of acting. Eventually, you will need to be able to remind yourself of the benefits certain actions have, you will need to get yourself motivated and excited to act. In changing yourself or your life a certain way, motivational words can help to get the wheels moving, but they are not an effective way to keep them going. This has to come for the most part, from within.

I have met a lot of people who constantly seek motivational words on the same couple of fundamental themes: be yourself, live with passion, stop approval seeking. Oddly enough, these are usually the people who make the least progress in being themselves, living with passion or stopping approval seeking.

Why? Because they don’t know how to keep the wheels moving themselves long enough for the change process to take place. They rely on external motivation, which keeps them advancing in a very slow pace. They get pumped up for 30 minutes, and then it’s back to the drawing board.

Real change

If you wanna see real change happen, complement using motivational words from others with some other strategies for keeping yourself on your path. Strategies like:

  • Visualizing your goals and imagining how it will be, how it will feel when they are real;
  • Setting intermediary goals, breaking the change process in small, doable steps;
  • Acknowledging the progress, rewarding it and looking at the positive things;
  • Anticipating obstacles, relapses, and finding effective ways to deal with them.

Changing yourself, changing your life in a certain area is usually a process based on a lot of action and a lot of repetition. Yes, you need daily motivation, just like bathing, but not from some website, some self-improvement book or guy doing a speech. From a certain point forward, motivational words have mostly done their task in that area. You need to pick the ball and play it from there.

Not doing this and going back to seeking more words of wisdom from others to get yourself motivated is a sign that you are mis-balancing the use of external motivators and the use of internal ones. This is not the solution for effective change.

About the author

Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard Ezeanu coaches people to help them improve their habits, their confidence and their social skills, so they can experience the best life has to offer. He also posts on his personal blog, People Skills Decoded.