“Satisfaction with the status quo leads to complacency. Complacency is the enemy of motivation.”
If you follow any of the popular business social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Facebook, you’ll see lots of people posting about #motivation and #motivationmonday. It seems everyone is either an expert on motivation or someone who needs motivating.
Motivation comes from dissatisfaction with your current state. If you aren’t dissatisfied in some way, you won’t be motivated to do anything differently. It’s like being diagnosed with high cholesterol. Human nature being what it is, most people don’t change their diet for fear of the future diagnosis. They change it because of the current diagnosis. In other words, only when the problem is right there do they get the motivation to do something about it.
Human beings clearly aren’t very good at looking down the road at what problems COULD develop. We tend to only deal with the stuff that is right there in front of us now. The problem is that the motivation to do something different may come too late to really create a different circumstance and solve the problem.
Most of us who are sitting around reading articles like this have achieved a certain amount of material success. We are likely employed, either in a business of our creation, or in a good, clean white collar job in a successful enterprise or institution where we earn an above-average income. We have nice houses or apartments to live in with unlimited clean running water and good heat and air conditioning that works instantly. We may even have house cleaners that come in every week to pick up after us and keep our homes up for us. We have nice reliable vehicles to take us anywhere we want to go. We have good, comfortable clothes that fit right and are clean. And so on.
So the question is, how can we get ourselves motivated to act differently and do what we should for our long-term interests even though we aren’t really dissatisfied with our current state? Here are my thoughts – and while not profound, I’d guess they won’t all be what you expect them to be:
- Create a self-induced state of fear. It shouldn’t be that hard to do. Turn on the news and watch it all day. Coronavirus fears. Stock market volatility. Environmental problems. Political polarization. Health insurance woes or a lack of it. Cancer. War. I could go on. But the point is, even if you are fat, dumb, and happy, there are plenty of things to worry about. That means there should also be plenty of reasons to motivate you to do things differently, because everything in your life could quickly change and things may not be so great.
- Stop thinking so much about yourself and start thinking about other people. You may be looking at the world through the proverbial “rose colored glasses.” Even if you aren’t actually worried about your own situation, what about the other people who aren’t so fortunate? How can you help them? What problems do they have that you could help solve? This should be motivational to you because there is certainly no shortage of problems in the world that could use the attention of someone who is calm, wise, and capable, such as yourself. It may also lead to a greater satisfaction with your life.
- Decide you want to change the world and set some new goals to do the impossible. How large can your firm grow? What kinds of projects could you do and what problems could you solve if you had more experts on your staff? What goals can you set for yourself or your business that are big and audacious? Start working on these big things and see if you don’t find your progress motivational. My bet is you will.
Satisfaction with the status quo leads to complacency. Complacency is the enemy of motivation. Don’t waste your precious time by getting too comfortable. Go out and change the world. If not for yourself, do it for the others who haven’t yet gotten to where you are in life. My guess is you will be more motivated – and ultimately, happier.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.