Using Purpose To Motivate Long-Term Productivity
By Josh Felber
Date Published: Nov 18, 2021
There’s a lot of buzz around how to boost productivity. Prior to the pandemic, the trend of “morning routines” swept through the entrepreneurial world. Article after article advocated for different grueling routines that were guaranteed to set you up for success. Later, fads like intermittent fasting and microdosing promised to help you reach “peak performance” at all times. When lockdown started, articles multiplied about how to remain productive while working from home.
While it’s great to start a productive routine, you need to maintain it. At the end of the day, being productive for a week isn’t really being productive. Though some of the trends mentioned above might get you started, they might not keep you going.
Why? They’re tied to action, not emotion or purpose.
Action as Motivator
Sometimes you need a defined goal or a clear set of steps in order to be productive. These are action-oriented routines, and they feel good at first. You’re trying something new, seeing and doing different things. New approaches often mean reorganizing your time, which only encourages that new routine. It works — at first.
We see this with diets and new exercise routines. You’re excited by the novelty of the diet. You buy new foods at the grocery store, cook different meals, experience new flavors. Same thing with working out: You try a new workout, machine or way of measuring your success. You can physically feel the changes you are making.
It can be easy to associate doing something differently with doing something well. The problem with this conflation is that eventually, those healthy meals start to seem boring, or the gym routine like too much work. The novelty has worn off, and the routine doesn’t have the same appeal anymore. The excitingly different actions that once motivated you stop being different, and with that goes the motivation.
At this point, you may look to start something new, and the cycle repeats: excitement, then boredom. The problem is that your motivator is external.
Emotion as Motivator
By tying your motivator to an internal source, you’re much more likely to be productive. If you use emotion to motivate, you’re less likely to be swayed to abandon new projects that require a lot of work. For example, if you’re testing out a new product after a few have failed, you may feel the determination to succeed that comes after setbacks.
If you are fueled to be productive by your emotional connection to your work, you will commit to the task at hand to prove something to yourself. Emotions are powerful, and they can spur you to action.
Your emotional response to something can remain the same for weeks, months, even years at a time. The downside comes when your emotional state changes. Let’s go back to the diet example. If you feel disappointed in your body and want to make a change, you will try different lifestyles and diets until you find one that helps. This motivation may last weeks or months as you seek the best way to become healthy. Eventually, you may find that you are happy with your body instead of disappointed. You’ve worked hard, your emotional need has been met, and it feels great.
Now what? With the emotional need satisfied, motivation and productivity can dissipate.
Purpose as a Motivator
So, how can you maintain long-term productivity? How can you make sure you’re performing well, every day, for years to come? You can do so by tying your motivation to a deep, personal purpose. While that may sound abstract, it’s actually pretty simple. For example, say you want to change your diet to model healthy behavior so your children can grow up healthy too. Or say you’re motivated to create a new product by the belief that it can change someone’s life. Maybe the new service you’re setting up speaks to a need that a loved one has.
Whatever the case, when you associate the reason for your productivity with a core value, you will find an endless source of motivation. Why? Because it brings purpose to your productivity, and when we have purpose, we can have everything.
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