May 16, 2011

Are you motivated or committed?

I was reading the testimonial this weekend of a woman who lost over 100 pounds and is now running marathons and getting certified to become a personal trainer. One of her secrets to success was expressed in this sentence:

"I don't believe in motivation; I believe in commitment."

This was a new concept for me, but I totally get it. Motivation is a feeling that many of us rely on to occur before we can get anything done. Write that book? I'm not motivated today. Get outside and exercise? Not motivated. Prepare for that presentation I have to give Tuesday? I'm just not motivated.

Motivation also frequently comes with rewards attached, whether internal or external. An external reward might be acknowledgement from the boss or a commission after a successful sales presentation. An internal reward might be how great you feel after a workout or the improvement in health. But motivation and rewards tend to go hand in hand, and oftentimes we're not motivated unless we see the reward at the end of the tunnel (and in the case of exercise, even the future rewards aren't enough to make us get out there and move our behinds!).

Commitment, on the other hand, is an action we choose to take no matter how we feel.

I frequently don't feel like exercising, but I get up out of my desk chair, put on those workout clothes and I go. Because if I always have to be motivated to exercise, then I will barely make a dent in my health and fitness. I'm committed to exercising, and that means (most of the time) I make it happen whether I feel like it or not.

Many of my clients aren't motivated to practice their presentations -- even when there is a reward in sight -- but when they commit to putting in a certain amount of time or practicing a particular skill, they get it done. Because they know the presentation will be better if they do, whether they feel like it or not.

Motivation is fleeting; it changes with the weather, with the seasons, with how much sleep you've gotten, with other life circumstances. A commitment is not necessarily easy to make or keep, but at least it doesn't rely on feelings that may be here one day but not the next.

The idea scenario would be commitment plus motivation; this would be the holy grail of accomplishment! But realistically, that is only going to happen sometimes, whereas plain old commitment can be achieved every day.

What are you working on that you need motivation to finish? What if you made a commitment instead?

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