Motivation Only Gets You So Far

Adrian S. Potter
3 min readMay 14

Create new habits instead (The Secondhand Inspiration Project).

Photo by Jonas Svidras:

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

“First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.”

-Octavia Butler

Many people believe their motivation and willpower are enough to reach their goals.

In the short term, they may be right. Sometimes an all-nighter cramming for an exam, clocking overtime to meet a work deadline, or a hardcore weekend of DIY repairs to mend a house is necessary to get over the proverbial hump.

But life (hopefully) is a long-term endeavor.

Over long periods, motivation alone doesn’t work. Your motivation will wax and wane like the lunar cycle, but the habits you develop will keep you chugging forward and making progress.

My biggest tip? Set mindful, incremental benchmarks along the way to stay encouraged.

Consistency is key. Building positive behaviors slowly but surely is vital to your success.

Let’s say your main goal is to lose a beer gut. Set deliberate strength goals such as lifting an additional five pounds on your squat and bench press each week until you plateau. Then sincerely celebrate those achievements when you hit them. Acknowledge other collateral accomplishments during your journey, too, like having more energy, getting better sleep, or experiencing fewer cravings.

Or maybe your primary ambition is to get promoted. Outline an action plan with subtle tasks you can do to shine more light on your value to the company. And again, celebrate each of these steps as you climb them. After you venture outside your comfort zone to get a mentor, volunteer for a challenging project, or attend a training session, pat yourself on the back — and then get back to work.

Most people want to hit goals at lightning speed. Often they try to microwave their dreams instead of letting them simmer in the crock pot.

Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity ·