Productivity: The Lie About Motivation

In the last newsletter, I mentioned that last month I was visiting friends in Columbia. While there, I made it a point to visit a region I've always wanted, the coffee region. There, I did a tour at a coffee farm and learned all sorts of interesting facts about coffee.

For instance, the coffee plant comes from Ethiopia, and the original plant is a wild plant that is tall, does not produce much coffee fruit, nor is very resistant to certain types of fungus. The plant has been crossbreed over the years to be shorter, so the coffee can be picked easier, produce more beans, and to be resistant to invasive spices.

In the region, I did a hike in the Cocora Valley, a stunning valley with picturesque landscapes. The valley is filled with Colombia’s national tree, the Wax Palm, which at 60 meters high, is the tallest palm in the world.

There, I asked a young woman to take a picture of me, and she had a great idea of the following pic with the trees in the background as the clouds came in momentarily.

We ended up hiking the rest of the way talking about fun stuff like goals and aspirations. I wouldn’t say she was a driven individual, but very aspirational. She wanted to do all sorts of things in her life like take up boxing, create a social media app, write a book, and about 20 more things she mentioned.

The reason I say she wasn’t driven is because she wasn’t doing those things. She believed full well she would, but the reality is, she wasn’t.

Do you resonate with her story?

I believe many of us have been or are in the same shoes, wanting to do all sorts of things, but never actually getting around to doing them. As each year passes, new boxes are added to the list, but none are crossed off. Each time a box is added, we are absolutely certain that it’s going to be checked off, but it rarely is, if ever.

People confuse wanting with achieving. We assume that wanting something bad enough is 'enough' to take action. As you have experienced plenty of times, that is not the case. Wanting is one step in the action equation, but not the only.

I think that’s where many personal development experts and productivity tools get it wrong. They focus too much on building motivation and enthusiasm with well-crafted speeches and stories that makes you want to jump up and do something. The problem is they make you want to jump up, and not actually jump up. Don’t get me wrong, motivation, drive, and desire are important, but not as the main or only focus.

There is another area where development experts and productivity tools get it wrong. I’ll be talking about that and other areas of focus next week, so stay tuned.


P.S. If you haven't read my goal setting book, what are you waiting for? Click here to learn more.

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