The Motivation Myth Summary

The Motivation Myth Summary: Jeff Haden’s book The Motivation Myth breaks the belief that motivation is a pre-requisite. Instead, motivation comes as a result when you make little progress. Motivation is not a spark you need before a start; it’s a side effect of your consistent action.

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Introduction: You Can Do and Be So Much More Than You Think

You watch the motivational video; you get the spark. You are inspired to learn a new language or build a new habit. It was a powerful urge, but it never produced any action!

We all run behind motivation. Is it a prerequisite? No, It’s the result of your progress.

Motivation fires when you break the resistance, push yourself in, start taking action and see yourself make progress. The problem with waiting for motivation is, it never comes with enough voltage to get you started.

How Successful People Go About Motivation

I have met plenty of successful people. Many of them were talented. Many of them were smart. Many of them were creative. But, none of those traits was crucial to success.

The real reason behind the success was they all started on the downside of advantage. They started at the smaller level. Humble beginnings create the perfect foundation of success.

Starting small creates endless opportunities to enjoy small success! Confused? It’s okay. The key is to understand how motivation works.

There is the only recipe for gaining motivation: success.

Jeff Haden

A not huge success, life-changing successes. They are rare. If you want to stay motivated, the key is to enjoy small, minor successes but regularly if you want to stay on track.

If you are trying to learn a new language, it’s fun to realize you can count till twenty. If you are trying to learn to code, it’s fun to realize your stupid code had worked! Small successes are fun and motivating.

That’s why you already all have everything you need. Motivation isn’t something you have; it’s something you get when you take action and see progress.

Success is a process. It is predictable & repeatable. Success is less about praying and hoping; it’s about doing the right thing in the right way over and over and over.

Every incredibly successful person I know never expected to achieve as much as they have. Why were they so surprised by their success? They were busy doing.

They didn’t focus on what they did not have. They focused on doing the work, day after, day after day, to get where they hoped to go.

The Relation Between Happiness And Success

The motivation myth makes people unhappy because of two reasons. First, it leads to the sin of commission. The person who regularly quits before completing the finish line is chronically unhappy.

The second reason is we aren’t enjoying one of the most rewarding experiences on the earth: slowly growing stronger, more skillful, wiser.

Why we do what we do? We all want to matter. But, if we focus solely on mattering in someone else’s eyes, the experience is often fleeting.

If your goal has been to get a job in a dream company, you feel fabulous the moment you achieve your goal- but the moment of achievement is just one moment.

The moment you complete a marathon is just a moment. The real source of lasting happiness lies in the process.

The successful people set the goal & then forget it. They focus on the process. They enjoy the small daily achievements. They are happy with small daily success and motivated for the next day. It is the process involved in achieving something that will make you feel happy about yourself.

Some people are happy. Some people are successful. If you want to become both, continue reading the first chapter of The Motivation Myth Summary.

Chapter 1 Summary:- Motivation Is Not The Spark

I used to watch motivational videos of Sandeep Maheshwari. I used to imagine I’ve achieved my goals. But when I woke up next day, nothing had changed. I was the same. Because I have really not accomplished anything, except wasting my 4 hours.

The source of motivation should not be external. Motivation is not a spark. It’s a feeling when you break the sweat, face resistance. It comes when you start.

How To Get Started When You Are 0 Percent Motivated

Getting started is often the hardest part. The running 5 miles a day is not difficult but getting out the home is difficult. That’s why fincancial planners often suggest to pay the small debts first, because it’s easy and it’s motivating.

The reason you feel good when you break the sweats & start is you engage in the process. So, the best way to get motivated is to break the sweat.

Shortcuts Never get you where you really want to go

Like motivation seeking shortcuts doesn’t work. Tim’s 4 Hour Workweek looks cool but he had extreamly worked hard to achieve it.

The hard earned success gives you feeling of improvement. It not only give a sense of accomplishment in one area but it makes you more confident in other area as well.

When you do good at work, it makes you confident in your relationship as well. The same doesn’t happens with shortcuts.

When you achieve a success with quick hacks or a shortcut, it doesn’t give you the feeling of improvement. It just fades. And it doesn’t improve other areas in your life.

You Don’t Need Other People Support You

We all think we should gain support from other people. That is the reason we share our goals with them.

When you share your goals, you start imagining the end result, you get the dopamine hit which makes you feel better, you think you have reached the halfway towards your goal even though you don’t have started yet.

You feel that you already achieved it and don’t need to do anything, and in reality, you don’t take action.

You may think that people will motivate or support you when you share your goals or future plans with them, but no one can really motivate you for a long time (you can be motivated for few moments, but that will not change anything).

Other people were not born with greater willpower

When we see our friend lose 20 Kg weight we think that what a willpower he has! Surely they are more disciplined but they have same willpower as you.

They find ways to use what they have. They just don’t give in to the templation. Successful people are good at delaying gratification. Later in this book summary you will learn about how to not exercising willpower at all.

You don’t need to find your passion first

As author cal newport says in so good they can’t ignore you summary, you don’t need to chase a passion. You just have to put in the efforts, focus on your process & passion will strike you one day.

You will feel passionate about your work when you become good at it. And to become good at it, you have to put in efforts & practise the skill everyday.

Winning Medals Doesn’t Feel That Good

Author once asked lance armstrong what he missed about being pro cyclist. He said that he missed the process. He didn’t missed the money, the accolads. He missed the proces of putting in efforts to get at the point where he could win.

When you put in time and effort, you see the progress, you gained certain level of skill, you become a thing that you are trying to achieve for.

Say for example you start reading habit. When you read certain no. of books, you automatically start feeling you are a reader. You start belonging to reader’s community. When you become a manager, at first, you think about managing, but over time you think yourself as a manager. It becomes your identity.

When you strive to achieve for something becomes part of your identity, you don’t need motivation. I think i’m a book reader, so I don’t need motivation to read books.

You don’t start a business, you are a entrepreneur. You don’t just write, you are a writer. You don’t just strive for success, you are successful. Even though Becoming is motivating, when you transform yourself into a reader, entreprenuer, musician or what you want to become, you no longer need motivation.

Each little success is motivating. Each little success gives you confidence. When you get small success over and over again, it becomes process. Though it’s not fun, but it’s rewarding & it is what needs to keep going.

Over the time, you forget about following routine for three months or six months, you just think about day to day. You embrace the routine, not the goal.

Every day you feel good about yourself, you feel the sense of accomplishment, which motivates you to do it again & again. In short the process looks like this: Small Success- Motivation- More success- More Motivation- More success= Becoming

Chapter 2: The Greater Your Focus, the Lower Your Chances of Success

Let’s say you have got enough motivation to get you started. You do it for a day or two days and then you fall back to your old behaviour. Mostly it happnes with new year resolutions. But, why it happens? It’s the result of your fault process.

Following a process that doesn’t give short term and long terms results is demotivating. But there is another reason i.e myth of focus.

Myth of focus says you have to constantly remind yourself, coerse and constantly remind yourself on pushing yourself ahead. 

Let’s take one step back. Did you eat today? Did you bath? Did you worked? Did you sent your children to school. Yes, you did it. Because you have no other choice. It’s non negotiable. 

When it comes to thinks like doing exercise regularly, we have too many choices. Our willpower burns throughout the day that we can’t choose long term gratification over short terms gratification. We can easily negotiate it with ourselves.

On the other hand, when you create the routine, embrace the routine and see the results of the routine you stop negotiating with yourself. Because we don’t see routine as a goal, we see it as a task. Your routine isn’t something you choose to do it, it’s just you do.

To Reach The Goal Don’t Focus On The Goal

Problem with setting huge goal can be described in two words: “here” and “there”. The distance from here, where you start to there where you want to reach is so long, especially at the beginning that demoralize you. For ex. 

  • Your goal is to run a 26 miles marazon, you manage to run 1.5 miles a day in first week. When you look at goal, how demotivating it is!
  • Your goal is to lose 20 Kg weight in 6 Months. In the first month you lost only 2 Kg, how demoralizeing it was. The distance from here and there is too great!

To turn your dream into reality, the best way is to set the goal and forget it. And embrace the process. James Clear, author of book The Atomic Habits, describe it as- 

  • If you are a manager, your goal is to develop your employees. Your process is to identify areas for improvement, give the feedback, etc. 
  • If you are coach of cricket team, you goal is to win the world cup, but your process is to choose the right team, fitness, net pracice, etc.

Succefull people and failure both have same goals, process is what makes the difference. 

Process for building great relationships

Do you want to build great relationships? Building great relationships is a goal, but here’s the process to achieve.

  1. Don’t talk a lot.
  2. Don’t blame.
  3. Don’t try to impress.
  4. Don’t interrupt.
  5. Don’t control.
  6. Don’t preach.
  7. Don’t dwell on the past.

Chapter 3: Your Goal Must Always Choose Your Process

In this chapter Jeff Haden explains what you need to do to get success. Let’s say you want to write a book. Write thousand words every day. Stick to the plan and after seventy days, you have achieved your goal.

Let’s say you want to lose forty pounds. Create a plan to consume three hundred fewer calaroies tahtn you burn evey day. Don’t worry about total calories burned, just worry about each day’s calory burned.

Most of the people set the goal & then what they do is totally irrelevant. That’s why your goal doesn’t matter, what matters is the what you need to do to achieve your goal. You can’t eat a desert & lose weight at the same time. You have to pay the cost. So don’t start unless you are willing to pay the cost.

How to create a successful process

Process is everything. Here are the steps for creating a successful process.

  • Set your goal

Let’s say your goal is to run a marathon. Set aside decision anxiety and choose a reasonably promising routine.

Initially, just pick a process that matches your current fitness level. Don’t worry about best training programm because you don’t know what suits you in the beginning.

If necessary, customize your process to be extremly specific.

“Go jogging for three days a week” is not a specific goal. Which days you will be going?How far? How fast? Instead you can set following process-

  • Monday- Run 1 Miles
  • Tuesday- Stretch for 20 minutes (List the different stretches)
  • Wednesday- walk at pace of 3 miles per hour
  • And so on…….

Good process tells you preisely what you needs to do each day. Setting a clear and specific target for each day helps you in getting clear feedback- either you did it what you planeed to do or you didn’t!

  • Rework your schedule

Your schedule might get interrupted because of many reasons. Maybe you start waking up earlier or you can go to gym by completing work earlier. Look at the process you created and determine what changes you need to make so you can reliable work on process.

  • Map out your daily plan
  1. Put the training plan on your calendar. For example-
  2. Sunday- 30 mins walk
  3. Moday- rest
  4. Tuesday- 1.5 miles run and so on.
  • Then check your plan against your daily routine to make sure it works
  • Work the process

Maybe the first three mile run was too hard to do and you had to walk some portion of it. Tha’s okay, just make sure you complete the three miles. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. What matters is you check off the each day’s activity & put a pat on your shoulder.

  • Fix your schedule problems

No matter how hard you try to predict your future actions, you reworked schedule didn’t always work in practise. Instead of giving up fix whatever schedule problesms have arisen. There’s always a way.

  • Your results may vary so adapt accordingly

Your results may vary. Take the decision on the basis of data. For example with 3 days of rest, you might not run efficiently. After running for few months you realize that you can run efficiently with only 2 days rest.

“I DON’T” Are The Magic Words For Staying On The Track

Now, you know how to set the process. But how to stick with it when you can’t change your diet for a single day?

To change any behavior you have to say no to yourself. That’s the hardest part. To lose the weight you have to say no to yourself when you see the desert.

To write a book you have to say no to wasting time on social media. So what is the best way to say no to yourself? It’s easy: Stop saying “can’t” and start saying “don’t”.

In a scientific research, one group of people gived a simple templation & asked to say “I can’t” & another group was asked to say “I don’t”. Here’s what happneed?

  • “I can’t” group gave in to the temptation 61 percent of the time.
  • “I don’t” group gave in to the templation 36 percent of the time.

Why this happened?

Because “I can’t” sounds like “I could do, but this time I’m choosing to not do.” It sounds thin & external. Whereas “I don’t”, souds like it’s not part of your identity. It comes deep within you.

Chapter 4: Happiness Comes to Serial Achiever

It’s trendy to say that you have to become good at one thing. According to author Jeff Haden, the current world prefer the generalists than specialist. It’s because the world is changing at faster pace.

Manager’s job is not only managing cetain things but to lead the employees & do other things as well. In current world, if you try to become good at the one thing, you will suffer in other thinks.

That’s why author suggest to learn many skills. For example, Author Jeff Haden is a ghost writer, photographer, speaker, consultant.

The more you expand yourself the happier you become. But how can I do many things?

According to Malcom gladwell, author of the book Outliers, to become good at any skill an average person needs 10,000 hours of practice.

But you don’t have to be really good at everything, you just have to become good than 95% people. To do that it will take 40 hrs a week for 5 years. Even if you are at 30, you can learn 7-8 skills untill you are at 80.

Probably you can learn more skills than you think.

Why You Must Be A Professional Serial Achiever?

Success is never assured. Plans are never pefect. When you try many things, fail at many of them, succeed in many of them, learn from the failures and successes …..and along the way they seize and create opportunities to advance themselves so they can live the life that makes them happy.

Why You Must Be Personal Serial Achiever?

At the deathbed, you will not regret for not sitting in office fore more hours. You will not remember your work but what personal goals you had not done things you really enjoy.

There are two types of pain you go through in your life. The pain discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounses while regret weighs tons.

Jim Rohn

Write down things that you would regret if you will not achieve them. When you become a personal as well as professional serial achiever, you will gain confidence and fulfillment. Your identity will not be limited to only one thing.

Chapter 5: To Gain Incredible Willpower …. Need Less Willpower

Choices are the enemy of willpower. The more choices or decisions you have to take throughout the day the less willpower you have by the end of the day.

So, design your life in a way that you won’t need to make more choices. Here are the 6 steps to have willpower without needing willpower.

Step 1: Eliminate as many choices as possible

We have to protect our finite mental energy. Else, we will run out of willpower to do the harder tasks. We look for shortcuts, we get impulsive. So here are examples you can apply in your life.

  • You want to drink more water & less soda- put the three bottles on you desk.
  • You want to stop the habit of checking email constantly- turn off the notifications & check emails 3 times a day for 2 mins or 3 mins.
  • You want to limit your financial choices- Put your credit card in the drawer.

Design your life in such a way that you don’t require willpower at all.

Step 2: Make decisions tonight so you won’t need to make them tomorrow

Make the easy decisions tonight so that you don’t spend your mental energy tomorrow. We make the smart choices when the task is not right in front of us.

Fo ex. What will you wear tomorrow, decide tonight only. Maybe you will decide what time you will workout tomorrow. Pack your gear tonight.

The goal is to keep as many decisions off the board as you can. The one decision you should definitely take the night before is to decide- what will you do the first when you go to work. That way you can………

Step 3: Do the hardest thing you need to do first

You have the greatest amount of mental energy in the morning. Science says so. Study on judges shows that they are more likely to take favourable decisions early in the morning.

Just before the lunch odds of favorable decisions dropped to almost zero. Make use of this energy to do your most important tasks of the day.

Step 4: Refuel Often

Although the judges have the most willpower in the morning, the graph of their decision making is like a roller coaster: up and down, up and down. Why? Because they take periodic breaks.

Just after lunch, their decision making was as good as in the early morning. That’s why refuel often. Take a good meal.

Glucose is one of the foundations of willpower. Although your brain doesn’t stop working when glucose is low, it just starts responding more to immediate rewards & stops making hard decisions.

Step 5: Create reminders of your long term goals

When you are mentally tired, it’s easy to give in to impulses. Create the tangible reminders of your goals that will pull you back from the impulse brink.

For example- you can put you photo on a refrigerator when you were 50 pounds weighed more, so that it will remind you that you don’t want to become that again.

Step 6: Remove templation altogether

The best way to save the willpower is make your environment in such a way that you won’t use the willpower at all.

For example, if you stop the habit of not checking mobile constantly, you can turn off the notifications & keep your smartphone in another room.

Or on the other hand if you want to read a book before bed, keep it on your bed.

Everytime you have to decide not to do certain things you would like to do it, that’s why the best way is to removing the temptations all together.

Chapter 6: Why Work Smarter When You Can Work Your Number

If you need to call 10 people & out of 10, 1 is becoming your customer, then you know your number. If your business needs 5 customers every month to run it then you have to create a system that can help you to reach 50 people & get 5 clients.

Often entrepreneurs think that it’s not feasible to reach 50 people & try to convert at higher rate. But if you are starting out & you know your number then you should work on your number in meantime optimize your work which will help to convert 1 out of 7 or 8 people.

Like the founders we also calculate our number. Success is result of rolling the dice certain number of times.

The more shots you take the more chances you have of hitting the target. Working your number helps you predict how much failure you can expect on the roal to success.

Chapter 7: You Don’t Need a Coach; You Need a Pro

The difference between coach and pro is that coaches make the process fun & uplifting. They tell you what you want to hear. Coaches motivate you, make the little tweaks here and there but the pros tell you exactly what you need to do to succeed.

Pros will help you to stop believing that you have to do little more than what you did and minor changes can make all the difference. If you want to achieve what the pros have accomplished, you don’t need a coach, you need a pro.

How to pick your pro?

Your pros is the person whom you admire. If you are a tech person, you might admire steve jobs. Or if you are a digital marketer, you might admire neil patel.

Whom you choose only matter in a way that their approach to success will help you achieve your goals.

Then know everything about them, by reading biograpies or watching interviews. Adopt their habits, routines. It’s not easy to emulate pros, but it’s not really hard as well when you embrace the pain and realize how well it works.

Chapter 8: Do More By Doing Less

In this chapter author Jeff Haden suggest to remove unnccessary thing from our life. Substraction can be helpful to streamline the process.

We often say yes to ideas, opportunities. Say no to things that don’t make any difference.

Eliminate one permission, kill one report, kill one sign-off, fire one customer, cut one expense, drop one personal commitment.

You can do a lot more by actually doing less. How? Just take the small step every single day. When you make the 1% improvement, it compounds over long period of time.

And to do improve 1%, you don’t need motivation at all. You can do it easily.

With this, we come to end to book summary of The Motivation Myth by Jeff Keller. Hope you enjoyed it. I highly recommend you to buy the motivation myth from the following links. Also, Let me know your thoughts on motivation in the comment section.

Links to Buy The Motivation Myth book- Free Audiobook | Amazon India | Amazon USA

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave is the founder of He is an avid book reader. After reading 100+ book summaries and 80+ books, he realized book summaries can help him choose better books. He writes about interesting book summaries, reading tips, the best books to read, and everything related to books!