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The Truth About Motivation

On Self-Sabotage and the Importance of Environment Design

· personal development,personal growth,fitness motivation,motivation,environmental design

"How do I take initiative when I feel no motivation to do anything?"

You're not alone!

I'm writing to address a specific question I received in response to my "Pulse Check" email from the newsletter. I take your emails and inquiries seriously, and am in this game to support those ready and willing to take action to activate more weightless moments in life.

It's also a question related to the subject of my coming book Law of the Die, available December 7th!

Well, I should say, the question stems from a pervasive bias addressed by the book, the assumption that change must stem from personal motivation and self-direction, when in actuality, environment dictates more in the transformation game than motivation does.
 

This is an important point worth tattooing on your forehead.


The question she responded to:
What conversations could use deeper discussion for you?

Her Answer:
"Well, I want to say that reading on the topic of 'resisting what I know is right and good for me,' is inspirational, therefor give me more. But has reading inspirational thoughts translated into action on my part? It has in spurts in the past - sometimes lasting for many months and resulting in what I said I wanted - but still it doesn’t stick permanently. I revert every time which is why I am still working on the issue. And so fucking bored with it all."
I'm posting this here for all to read, because if there's a part of you wondering why you're not making progress in the game of personal growth AND you're not also attempting to resolve your sticking points and source solutions, you're deluding yourself. You ain't in the game. You're watching it from the bleachers.
Susan is doing exactly the right thing here. She's facing reality.
If you find yourself in Susan's position, and you're "working on these issues," it's probable that you're working on the wrong shit. What I mean by that is that many are under the false assumption that mind-body development, personal transformation and growth, and peak performance are about information gathering, about knowledge acquisition. They aren't.
Do you need some knowledge? Sure. Yes. Of course. But knowledge doesn't move the needle. Sustainable action does. Which brings us to our primary false assumption: Where does action come from?
Many assume action stems from motivation. It doesn't.
Motivation stems from action – ALWAYS.

This won't make sense to you if you're still struggling to implement, and especially if you've hit a point of boredom (which is understandable!!!). But it means you've got reframe this shit.

Despite the misleading message from Law of Attraction advocates worldwide, good intentions and positive thought don't change reality (at least not often, and then, not for more than a few weeks until reality shits in their tacos).
Positivity might get you signed up for a gym membership, or buy more veggies than chocolate. But what about next week? You know, when you're out of veggies? Sick of veggies? Out at a party and someone is putting a drink in your hand? Or on a work trip where "healthy options" aren't available?
Your brain is hardwired for simple pleasure. Literally.

Chocolate, "likes" on social media, and porn are amazing, right? Immediate release. By design.

The brains behind the brands know this, and you better believe they've got the best neurochemists on the planet working behind the scenes, studying your hormonal responses to these triggers, knowing exactly how their products cause the release of dopamine in the brain - the neurotransmitter/hormone responsible for motivation, the one that keeps you doing that thing over and over.
Environment trumps motivation. ALWAYS.
You lack motivation? You're bored with the game of self-development?

Welcome to the club. We're all in this crazy cycle together. What separates the winners from the losers? Winners reduce variables. They limit options. They design triggers that reward good behavior. Because success - this game of motivation and effort - is a dynamic conversation between your thoughts and the feedback your environment gives you.

And chocolate, "likes," and porn, always win out... UNTIL.

...until they're no longer options, or until you've filled your environment with options that trigger deeper reward centers of the brain, those related to self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem.

These are harder fought for, and early stages of effort in any domain - fitness, business, self improvement of any kind - will make you feel defeated, inadequate, insecure. That's because you're not good at first and your environment is reminding you that you ain't got the skills... because change is hard. You gotta know that going in.

Just last week one of the good fellas in my current tribe told me he's still struggling with compliance in the diet category (as most are). A common response I have is to automate your process and remove discretionary choices - to design the meals and patterns that are both sustainable (enjoyable) and conducive to fat reduction and overall performance.
He said what all people feel: "I'm not sure that's as easy for me as it is for you."
And this gets back to our original false assumption - that action stems from motivation. I don't assume you should feel motivated before acting. I sure as hell don't. Again, that isn't how the brain works. Positive reinforcement is the process of motivation building. And it's terribly uncomfortable, if not painful, at first.
Ok, so how do we act if we don't feel motivated? If we feel bored by lack of results? (A thorough analysis of this question is in The Essence of Lightness within 'The Change Scroll' for those needing comprehensive insight).
We look to environment. We remove triggers that support bad habits. We increase triggers that support good ones.
Is this easy? Fuck no. But it's the only path to sustainable change. So you either accept that reality and do the work, or you accept that your personal growth just isn't that important to you (which is ok too!!! I'm only speaking to those wanting and not receiving). After 20 years of coaching, I don't know of another natural alternative.
Environment design. Community design. Options design. (Notice I didn't say more knowledge).
This might mean joining a movement/fitness group. It might mean joining a Weightlessness Tribe. It might mean limiting social dinners to two nights a week only, until your personal targets are hit. It might mean intermittent fasting to reduce total calorie intake. It might mean setting your alarm for 5am or taking cold showers in order to reduce the need for comfort in all facets of life, creating the mental space for more discomfort on the laborious road to personal transformation.
Your environment will be unique. Your problems unique. But these principles are not, you just need to be willing to swallow your excuses and stop thinking you're different, because you're not. You've got a human brain and human body. And you're weak (as we all are against complex triggers in life). That's your starting point.
How do you use that information so that you stop relying on bad information (that motivation leads to change) and start taking action (setting systems and environmental triggers in place that reinforce the habits you want to have - that unleashes the fucking demon inside you that crushes all obstacles and faces all challenges with confidence and awareness?).
If your child, sibling, or parent is in the hospital and you get that phone call, you drop everything to be there. That's prioritization. If your mind-body growth is not in your top three priorities in life (meaning you cannot keep your phone off at the gym, meaning you sleep-in when you've got a workout scheduled, meaning you meditate for 5 minutes when you've got 20 in the schedule), then quite frankly, your priorities aren't what you think they are.
It's just not that important to you. WHICH IS OK! but start from a point of honesty there. That's an opportunity to reorient and realign actions with personal ambitions. Because we know you can take action when important things happen (relative in the hospital). Your change/growth just ain't an important thing.
"But it IS important to me!" you say...

Ok, prove it :)

I'm with you. I'm on your side. The ball is fully in your court. If this is a priority, and you're truly willing to make the changes you feel will benefit, the changes that will remove burdens in life and bring a few more weightless moments, start now.
NOT BY TALKING YOURSELF INTO A STATE OF MOTIVATION FOR THREE WEEKS.

BUT BY DESIGNING A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT.

Nobody that saw the film Tarzan was surprised by his physique and mental fortitude. Why? Because he lives in the fucking jungle, a harsh world where simple pleasures are not granted anyone or anything. You want to feel good in the jungle? You gotta do work. You want to feel satisfied by food? You hunt. You want to have sex? Ok, I actually have no clue how that goes with one dude alone in the jungle. Let's keep this somewhat wholesome and assume, you gotta do work.
Environment must be built to reward meaningful actions that contribute to your big vision. Tarzan wasn't built on the sofa watching Netflix and eating a bucket of Ben and Jerry's. That movie wouldn't sell.
Once your environment rewards you for actions that lead to meaningful outcomes, guess what happens?
You feel motivated...
A whole new angle on this growth game is coming soon with a true monster of transformation - The Die. Until then...
Stay weightless ya'll,
Tom

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