Stop Relying On Motivation And Make Change By Creating Systems

Stop Relying On Motivation And Make Change By Creating Systems
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Motivation is great when you have it. It makes you excited about things, and you’re eager to put your nose to the grindstone and start working. When you don’t have it, however, your productivity can plummet. Instead, stop relying on motivation and start creating systems of habits to get things done.

Picture: Dennis Hamilton

As personal finance blog I Will Teach You to Be Rich points out, motivation comes in waves. It’s unreliable and therefore should not be relied on. Instead, giving yourself a system that makes it easy for you to do what you need to anyway is a better approach to instituting change:

One of my mentors, BJ Fogg, who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, says we should assume that our “future self” is going to be lazy with no motivation. We need to set up systems to make achieving our goals as easy as possible — even when our motivation is low. In other words: Motivation DOESN’T work. Systems do.

While it’s nice to feel motivated, you’re a lot more likely to stop drinking soda and start drinking water if all you have is water in the house. Feeling motivated to be healthier isn’t going to be enough all the time. With any habit you can get into, the more you can structure your life around you to accommodate the way you want to live, the more likely you are to stick with it even when motivation fails you.

How to motivate yourself [I Will Teach You To Be Rich via Rockstar Finance]


  • Best headline of the year – totally with you on this. Motivation is self deception 99% of the time. While I understand that people need to comprehend the relationship between the need to complete certain activities and necessary or desirable outcomes, that same mechanism (reason) is at odds – and in many respects at the mercy of – emotions.

    Systems de-emote activities, as such, they allow the framework of reason to be locked in and the potential derailing by emotions to be drastically reduced.

    I have tried for YEARS to self-motivate, and I am a genius in the art of ‘self-sabotage’ – the key to getting anything accomplished for me has been the structure of systems and processes, the cold objectification of tasks, the reduction of dreams to goals, goals to steps/stages, steps/stages to small actions. Without systems, any and every element of something which isn’t completely enthralling from start to finish is susceptible to derailment by emotion, or any other competing thought or priority for that matter.

    With systems, you can monitor the progress of your accomplishment in a logical manner, which for me is satisfying. I’m not a big ‘list’ person, but I love moving my post-it actions from ‘to commence’ into ‘in motion’ then to ‘accomplished’. I can see everything moving forward, everything in context, everything I have accomplished. It’s a personal thing, but you have to hack together your own systems based on everything you know about yourself – especially your weaknesses.

    Systems are the ficken best.THE BEST (caps because it’s true).

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