Doug Dvorak's Blog

Five Lies About Motivation

It is almost a given. People who attend a motivational seminar or workshop tend to leave the venue believing that they too, can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. Unfortunately, a few days after returning to their daily routine, the enthusiasm, and “buzz” often wears off.

Motivation is extremely important for sustained success. Motivation is that which enables people to take on seemingly impossible challenges. There are factors that lead to sustainable motivation. As well as understanding and believing in the “truths,” there are five lies about motivation that people must stop believing in.

Lie 1: Motivation Is Not Tangible

You cannot wrap your arms around motivation. It is not a thing. Motivation has no substance. Motivation is not something that can be measured. There is no motivation without movement. If you are motivated to improve your fitness but take no specific action, then you are lacking motivation. Motivation can certainly come in a tangible form. If you notice your motivational levels are higher after you go for a run, that could be a key to your success.

Lie 2: Goals Are Not Motivators

Goals give direction. They do not motivate. Effective action demands that the “why” of the goal is understood. Commitment to action is more likely when the individual understands the goal and its importance.

Lie 3: Setbacks De-Motivate

Setbacks are disappointing, but they are inevitable. When the goal has been well set and understood, setbacks can be useful. They can be used to adjust the actions necessary to achieve the desired goal and the sustained success that goes with attaining the goal. Setbacks can be huge motivators, they may sting at first, but once you get past your first major setback, your motivational levels will skyrocket.

Lie 4: Direction Is Not Motivation

People want to know why the goal is important. People, especially those who know what they are doing do not like being told how to do their job. They would rather know the importance of the goal and then be left to their own devices to accomplish the task.

Lie 5: You Have to Believe

Believing in the goal is important, but belief alone will not get the job done. Lack of belief in the outcome leads to failure. Maintain your motivation by celebrating every step towards achieving the goal. If you do not believe in what it is you are working on, you can still be motivated by other factors. Sometimes you do not believe in what you are doing at work, but you are being paid to work so you continue on with your efforts and complete the task. When you do not believe, there can be other motivational factors that continue to motivate you to finish the job.


Try to keep these lies about motivation in the back of your mind when you are looking for a serious motivational boost. Knowledge is power!


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