Commiserate: The Myth of Motivation

Let me introduce you to the biggest lie I tell myself: “there’s no point in doing it when I’m not feeling it, I’ll hold off now and wait until I feel motivated.”

And I tell it to myself over and over…and over.

What’s worse?

Look around. There’s no shortage of people accomplishing every goal they set. I stare at these people with awe, and – bursting with jealousy – I think: why the hell can’t I muster the motivation to kill everything I’m doing like they are?

That feeling sucks.

But what do we do with things that suck?

Around these parts, we write a post for a self-indulgent, second-person series called commiserate that imitates the internal voice of doubt we all have, so people on the internet can identify themselves in it and feel slightly less alone in the world.

So let’s do it!

The First 5 Seconds

It starts with an impulse: “hey, maybe I should do that thing I’ve been meaning to do.”

But almost as soon as it sparks, it’s dampened by a small, wordless panic creeping into the back of your head. And that flutter of self doubt quickly blossoms into a barrage of excuses.

“I’m too tired right now.”

“I should really do that when I’m fresh in the morning.”

“I deserve a break.”

It isn’t difficult to justify doing something else.

Though some small part of you recognizes you’re full of shit, it somehow still feels better than brushing aside the ‘what if’s’ that haunt you every time you try to start.

What if you just aren’t good enough?

The Realization

But it’s time.

Make a move, any move, SOMETHING.

Then it dawns on you. You’re standing at the edge of a metaphorical cliff. Staring back at you is a miles-wide void, and you can’t even see the other side.

That void should be filled with hundreds, thousands, millions of little tasks that bridge you across. But all you see is black; you’re paralyzed.

What right do you have to believe you can make it there?

You can’t.


It’s ok. There’s always tomorrow.


You try to shame yourself out of this meaningless promise.

Why is tomorrow always the perfect time to do something? Because it isn’t today! You’re never going to do it. When the hell is tomorrow, really???

You wrack your brain for inane inspirational quotes in a feckless attempt to light a fire that doesn’t seem to be there.

You rehearse the words:

Why put something off till tomorrow you can do today?

But you’re excuses are ready for you.

Because you can’t do it today! Remember??

You’re tired! You’re brain isn’t working! It isn’t an excuse, it’s FACT.

But really, you’re just useless.

Do you really believe that?


Fleeting Hope

There is that one day…

You actually feel like doing it. You feel great and actually make quite a bit of headway.

Things are changing!! You start to believe in your own motivation again.

There are still questions.

Why don’t days like this happen more often? Other people say they just work when they feel like it, and look at everything they’ve done. Way more than you!

You would feel motivated to put the work in every day if you weren’t so lazy. That’s your real problem. You’re just exceptionally lazy. Everyone knows it.

You begin to think that it might be time to abandon all hope.

The Abyss

Every time you think about working on it, you feel like you’re choking.

You keep it on your to-do list, but you pad it out with meaningless tasks so you’re always ‘too busy’ to get it done. You try not to give it any real thought when you see it.

Taking out the garbage, making the bed, or cooking a meal is always ‘more important’.

It starts to feel like groundhog day every time you notice it, but if you keep on writing it down, it doesn’t feel like you’ve given up.

But really, you’ve given up.

The Takeaway

This type of post is the purge of emotion, but there is hope!

It turns out motivation is a myth. The more you rely on it randomly showing up, tapping you on the shoulder, and giving you the boost in energy you need to accomplish everything you’ve ever desired, the more you will feel like a defective piece of garbage when it doesn’t happen.

Next week, I’m going to explain how to succeed without motivation.

Remember how I didn’t post for months? Yeah, the techniques I’m going to talk about gave me the push to not only start over, but to outline, write, and edit this post on different days, all BEFORE my post deadline…instead of just rushing to do it at the last second….like I used to do.

If you’re interested in learning how to do it, make sure you come back next Friday evening.

In the meantime, let me know what you’ve been pushing off. Have you beat yourself up about it?

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