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Motivation vs. Dedication

If it’s important, do it everyday.—Dan Gable

Motivation will only get you started. Dedication is what gets you the rest of the way.

Motivation ebbs and flows because it relies on feelings. Dedication is a commitment to doing the work, regardless of how one feels.

Motivation is external. Dedication is internal.

Motivation is short term. Dedication is long term.

I’ve experienced the fickle nature of motivation many times in my life, so I can reliably attest that “getting motivated” won’t get you very far. If you want to achieve a goal you have to become dedicated. How do you do that?

I don’t have a complete answer, but I’m convinced that a big part of it is forming habits.

I brush my teeth first thing in the morning everyday as soon as I get out of bed. It’s an automatic ritual. I don’t have to get motivated. I don’t have to read an Anthony Robbins book. I don’t need to hear emotionally charged music. I don’t need to engage in positive thinking. I just do it. You could say that I’m dedicated to brushing my teeth.

Of course it sounds silly to frame it that way, but if you think about it, dedication is nothing more than a habit that moves us toward a goal. What I like about the term habit is that it sounds so simple. A big word like dedication is intimidating. It’s the kind of word you go to seminars to learn about. But a habit, well, that’s just an act you do without thought.

Don’t take my word for is, here’s Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

So if you’re looking to get more motivated, my advice is this: Start with your goal and work backwards, dividing it up into small steps that you can turn into daily habits. Forget motivation. Just create habits.

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