Earlier today I reflected on what I’ve learned from my coaching practice and it led me to realize where motivation comes from.

#1 Lesson Learned Coaching Over 3,000 People

In 10 years of coaching over 3,000 people from all walks of life, I’ve learned something important. Over 80% of the time, people simply need help getting clear on what they want. Clarity is the reason why people either persist and stay motivated or don’t. Knowing exactly what you are going after and why. That’s where motivation comes from. If you know clearly and specifically what you want and it matters to you, you will pursue it. When I taught and coached math, this held true. My students who struggled, didn’t even understand the problem. When the problem was made clear, most of the time they at least knew how to start attempting it. From there, motivation carried them forward. Perhaps we can even swap out the word motivation for momentum. Momentum carried them.

Think about anything you’ve ever pursued intensely in life. Chances are you knew exactly what you wanted. Maybe it was a job, an item, a relationship, a role in an organization, etc. As long as it was clearly and specifically defined, you knew how to start. You may not have known how to finish it, but you knew how to start.

What comes first, progress or motivation?

When you know exactly what you want and it matters to you, you can come up with at least one step to begin making progress. That progress creates momentum and motivation.

Ambiguity destroys motivation.

Can’t hit your weight or fitness targets? Have you signed up for the gym? If you are signed up, do you know exactly what your fitness success looks like? Could you describe it right now to someone? Does it really matter to you? I’ve had fitness goals that simply sounded nice, but didn’t matter to me. I’ve had some that mattered, but were not specific enough.

When I knew what I wanted specifically (to be able to run the fastest and longest on the soccer field) and why (because when I play, I am happy, and the longer I play, the happier I am), I started looking for help and guidance on what to do. Turns out when you get specific, there aren’t many options and a smaller selection of alternatives makes it easier to get started.

Search terms are easier to come by when you know what you are searching for. When you don’t, you can’t even figure out what to type into Google. When that happens, I know I need clarity.

Clarity > Take Action > Make Progress > Unlock Motivation. And repeat.

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