Book Notes: The Motivation Myth

The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win, by Jeff Haden

[Disclaimer:  This is not meant to be a book summary or book review. This is just stuff in the book that I found personally valuable or interesting at the time of reading. Most of these “notes” are actually highlights, i.e. directly copied lines from the book, but some notes are personal adaptations or added personal insights.]

Motivation is really a result. Motivation is the fire that starts burning after you manually, painfully, coax it into existence, and it feeds on the satisfaction of seeing yourself make progress.

– The problem with waiting for motivation to strike is that it almost never comes with enough voltage to actually get you started.

– There is only one recipe for gaining motivation: success. Specifically, the dopamine hits we get when we observe ourselves making progress. Not huge, life-changing successes. Those come all too infrequently, if ever. If you want to stay motivated, if you want to stay on track, if you want to keep making progress toward the things you hope to achieve, the key is to enjoy small, seemingly minor successes— but on a regular basis…

– Consistently experiencing a genuine ‘sense of accomplishment’ is what’s really motivating — doing what you set out to do and feeling good about it. Stringing together a series of minor-but-significant accomplishments is what develops real motivation.

– Motivation [particularly for actually doing tasks that pertain to improving yourself or attaining your goals] isn’t something you just have. Motivation is something you get, from yourself, automatically, from feeling good about achieving small successes.

– Success is a process. Success is repeatable and predictable. Success has less to do with hoping and praying and strategizing than with diligently doing (after a little strategizing, sure): doing the right things [necessary goal-tasks], the right way, over and over and over.

The road to a target, to a goal, or to a finish line is filled with doing tasks . . . and countless opportunities to feel good about what you have accomplished, each and every day along the way.

-A slice of satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness can be found in the achievement . . . but the real source of consistent, lasting happiness lies in the process. The process is is where that real sense of accomplishment gets cultivated.

– Successful people feel good about themselves because they’ve accomplished what they set out to do today, and that sense of accomplishment gives them all the motivation they need to do what they need to do when tomorrow comes— because success, even tiny, incremental success, is the best motivational tool of all.

– Small successes in daily tasks are what’s ultimately motivating for goals. Successes naturally create a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of accomplishment increases self-efficacy. And the more genuinely efficacious we feel, the more motivated we become.

– ‘Sense of Accomplishment’ is at the core of psychological fulfillment.

– Hard work = consistently doing necessary tasks, especially when they feel burdensome or unimportant. Consistency and discipline are the ‘hard’ in hard work. Contrary to how we tend to conceive it, “hard work” doesn’t typically involve strenuous mental or physical effort. Rather, it involves repeatedly and regularly (consistently) showing up and doing tasks we would rather not do (discipline).

– Fire-walking is a one-off event. Fire-walking is like listening to a motivational speech: You go home inspired and excited and all jazzed up . . . but you wake up the next day, or realize a month later, you’re the same person you were before, because you haven’t truly accomplished anything.

– Most people are confused about the source of motivation. They think motivation is the spark that automatically produces lasting eagerness to do hard work; the greater the motivation, the more effort you’re willing to put in. Actually, motivation is a result. Motivation is the pride you take in work you have already done— which fuels your willingness to do even more.

[ I would say this is accurate for ‘developing one’s motivation’. Or rather for increasing one’s baseline motivation, or for sustaining “lasting motivation”. Otherwise, I think a better definition of motivation is simply a willingness to act, or the drive to do something to fulfill a need, desire, or purpose. But the book’s concept is a good one nonetheless, especially for ‘motivation to stay engaged and succeed’. ]

– On all those tips for how to feel more motivated: Most of that advice can be boiled down to “You can be more motivated. All you have to do is dig deep into your mind and find that motivation within.” [While the tips can be effective, and the advice may help sometimes, “digging deep” to employ some abstract concept is not reliably effective for day-to-day motivation. ]…

– The same is true for confidence, confidence being closely linked to motivation. The thinking goes, “You can be more confident. All you have to do is decide to be more confident.” It’s easy: Suppress negative thoughts, suppress negative perspectives, repeat some really cool self-affirmational statements, and . . . presto! No. This is not effective, or at least not reliable — it’s not real motivation.

– Real motivation [for improving conditions or working towards a goal] comes after you start.

– It helps to consider will / willingness / willpower as distinct from motivation. Those are more analogous to grit and self-discipline, at least in application. ‘Genuine’ or ‘real’ motivation is best conceived (and applied) as the drive that stems from a sense of purpose-in-doing and a sense of accomplishment from actually doing necessary tasks. It’s that deeper feeling of wanting to get engage, feeling effective and valuable as you engage, and subsequently feeling like you want to keep engaging.

– The key is to enjoy the feeling of success that comes from improving in some small way . . . and then rinse and repeat, over and over again.

– Improving feels good. Improving breeds confidence. Improving creates a feeling of competence, and competence breeds self-confidence. Success— in your field or sometimes in any field— breeds motivation. It feels good to improve . . . so you naturally want to keep improving.

– You feel good because you’re engaged and involved. You feel motivated because you took action. Motivation is a result, not a precondition.

– Wait for a sudden burst of inspiration and you’ll never get started . . . and if you do manage to ride that initial sugar-rush wave, you’ll never stick with it, because sugar rushes never last.

– To experience motivation, you must see the necessity of tasks — you must see tasks as services for your long-term goals. You must consistently engage all necessary tasks. You cannot inconsistently engage tasks, or consistently half-ass tasks, or consistently engage ‘some’ necessary tasks when you feel like it. You must consistently engage all necessary tasks to establish the genuine sense of accomplishment that sustains motivation.

– Confidence comes from preparation. Hesitation, anxiety, fear . . . Those feelings don’t come from some deep, dark, irrational place inside you. The anxiety you feel— the lack of confidence you feel— primarily comes from feeling unprepared. …

– [ Unprepared, at a minimum, means not having realized your own competency of execution under uncertain conditions, or in not realizing your competency of resilience should your execution fail. If you can practice ‘realizing’ your competency of ‘execution under uncertain conditions’, meaning you explicitly understand your own basic ability to act properly, and you remain aware of your ability as you act, and if you practice realizing your competency of resilience, meaning you understand how you would handle the situation appropriately if something went wrong and you remain aware of this ability to mitigate, then you will be prepared and subsequently confident. ]

– Hacking is great when you need to perform a simple task. Hacking is worthless when you need to acquire a complex skill or accomplish a huge goal.

– Other people were not born with greater willpower. [We all essentially have the same basic needs and desires at the start.] Sure, some people may be more self-disciplined than you. But it’s unlikely they were born with something significantly special inside them— instead, they’ve found ways to make decisions that don’t require willpower and determination. Some people seem to have exceptional innate willpower, but that seemingly exceptional willpower is probably not actually exceptional, and if it is, it’s almost definitely not innate. Instead, these people have simply realized their basic sense of willingness (will), and they’ve figured out how to activate it on a consistent basis (power). Exceptional willpower is not innate, it’s developed. And you can develop it too.

– [The author’s] definition of “grit” is: the ability to work hard and respond resiliently to failure and adversity; the inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals.

– [ My personal iteration of Grit, the Grit that I wish to subscribe to:

Grit = “hardy determination + stick-to-it-ness”, including the ability to override the urge to not start or quit. It’s the developed ability to initiate & sustain controlled effort despite the presence of torpor, discomfort, challenge, & difficulty; it’s the inner quality that enables individuals to make a controlled effort and commit, and continuously re-commit, to the task at hand, precipitated by clearly understanding the purpose of the task as it pertains to their meaningful long-term goals

~~ I liken Grit to Hardiness, which involves a healthy approach to Challenge, Control, and Commitment: embracing challenge as opportunity, knowing what you have control of and only putting your attention and efforts those elements, and making clear commitments and staying committed

Hard Work = Focused Engagement (on Tasks)
To “work hard” means (to me) to “remain focused on consistently engaging necessary tasks”

Passions = Deeply Meaningful and Enjoyable Pursuits or Purposes
Being passionate should involve deep personal meaning and a sense of purpose]

– Successful people are great at delaying gratification. Successful people are great at withstanding temptation. Successful people are great at overcoming fear in order to do what they need to do.

– Somehow, without noticing when it happens, you embrace the routine and not the goal. Every day you get to feel good about yourself, and that sense and feeling of accomplishment motivates you to do it all over again the next day. Every day you get to feel good about yourself, and that sense and feeling of accomplishment motivates you to do it all over again the next day.

– Forget the fire-walking. Forget the self-talk. Forget searching for, or paying for, the right kind of motivation. Tony [Robbins] is right in one way: All the motivation you need is already inside you. But you won’t tap into it by seizing a single moment of inspiration. You won’t stay motivated because you experienced one “aha!” moment.

– You’ll stay motivated when you find a process you trust and commit to working that process for as little as a week. Forget how far you need to go to reach your goal; just commit to following the process for a week.

– Wanting something badly isn’t enough. No matter how badly you may want to achieve something, what matters more— a lot more— than the power of “why” is the power of “how.”

– Know that as you follow the right ROUTINE and gain a small— even very small— measure of skill, your motivation grows, your confidence grows, and your happiness grows, and those qualities make it easy to keep following the right routine, to keep improving, to keep gaining skill and confidence and motivation . . . because you will have earned those feelings.

– Did you get the kids to their activities on time? Of course you did, because you didn’t see it as a choice. … Choices are a problem, because choices force you to decide what you want to do. What happens when you turn “I want to” into “I have to”? You make it to work on time. Punctuality is nonnegotiable. Getting to work on time is not a goal; it’s an imperative task. So is making dinner; you have no choice. So is taking care of your kids; it’s nonnegotiable.

– [HUGE POINT] The power of routine is SO important. When you create a routine, embrace that routine, and see the results of that routine, you stop negotiating with yourself.

[If you put your focus on routine, and make an effort to adhere to a routine, soon enough you will naturally feel less of need to exert willpower. Routine ultimately makes doing tasks feel much less effortful.]

– Routine is the core task — it enables all other tasks. Deny routine, and all your tasks will continue to seem much more effortful than they are. Embrace routine, and watch how much easier tasks become — watch your motivation increase exponentially.

– The best use of a goal is to inform the process you will follow to achieve it.

– Everyone has goals. The people who actually achieve their goals create routines. They build systems. They consistently take the steps that, in time, will ensure they reach their ultimate goal. They just do what their plan says, consistently and without fail. They forget the goal and focus solely on the process.

– Telling ourselves, “just focus on the goal” is not reliable. Successful people don’t actually focus constantly on their goal on a daily basis. Of course they have their goal in mind, but instead they ‘focus’ on the process. If you focus only on the goal, you will continue to feel overwhelmed and stuck.

– Do not worry about “losing sight of your goal”. If your goal is meaningful and worthwhile, you definitely will not forget about it. Instead, do not lose sight of the process — do not lose sight of the tasks that are necessary that keep you moving in the right direction.

– ‘Task orientation’ feels more difficult than goal orientation. But if you think about it, focusing on tasks (focusing on the process) is actually much easier. Goals are distant and tasks are not. Achieving a worthwhile goal is difficult. Accomplishing a task is not all that difficult. So just shift your focus to the process — orient yourself with the tasks — and notice how much easier it all starts to feel upon making that perceptual shift.

– Commit to your huge goal. Create a process that ensures you can reach your goal. Then forget about your huge goal and work your process instead.

– What matters is that you consistently work your process and do what you set out to do, each and every day. If you dedicate yourself to working your process, you will make progress. And when you keep making progress, success is eventually inevitable.

– Process is everything. And maybe just as important, creating a successful process is hugely motivating in and of itself. By the time you’ve mapped out your process, you’ll be incredibly motivated to get started. If you struggle with procrastination, the boost of motivation you will feel from successfully creating a successful process (I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true) will leave you itching to get started.

– Steps for Creating a Successful Process:

1. Set your goal.
2. Choose a reasonably promising routine.
3. If necessary, customize your process to be extremely specific.

A good process tells you precisely what you need to accomplish at every step along the way. That way you know exactly what to do, and you know when you have actually accomplished what you need to do.

4. Rework your schedule.
5. Map out your daily plan.
6. Work the process.

Consistently working your plan is the only performance standard that matters.

7. Fix your schedule problems.

No matter how hard you tried to predict the future, your reworked schedule probably didn’t always work in practice. Trading off a few household responsibilities may not have worked. Leaving work early to get to the gym may not have always worked.

Something won’t work, and when that happens, what usually gives first? Your new process. Instead of giving up, fix whatever schedule problems have arisen. There is always a way. Just keep in mind that sometimes you may have to go for a run at 11: 00 p.m. or bring work home or get up early to finish that project . . . because you don’t miss workouts, and you don’t let coworkers down, and you don’t let opportunities slip away.

8. Your results may vary, so adapt accordingly.

But don’t make changes to your process because you’re tired or lazy or bored— make changes because those changes increase your likelihood of ultimate success.

– What you decide to schedule is up to you . . . but you need to do whatever you decide to do.

– Inevitable success is the best success of all— and it will happen when you set your goal, [essentially] forget your goal, and focus on working your process.

– How do you achieve a lifelong objective? Let’s say your target is, oh, $ 50 million. Totally unrealistic? Nope. The goal isn’t unrealistic. Genetics don’t play a part. Experience, education, and connections are all important but not required. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life achieve that level of wealth. The goal isn’t unrealistic . . . but for the millions of people who hope to achieve significant wealth, the approach is what is unrealistic— and what ensures that they never come close.

– Entrepreneurs enthuse about the challenges, the responsibility, the sense of mission, the sense of purpose, the sense of fulfillment and excitement of working with and for a real team, the amazing feeling of empowerment and control over their own destinies. Every entrepreneur lights up when we talk about being an entrepreneur, because as entrepreneurs they feel alive. They feel free to chart their own courses, to make their own decisions, to make their own mistakes— to let the sky be the limit not just financially but also (and almost always more importantly) personally.

– Say you want to amass tens of millions of dollars in wealth. If you aren’t willing to work to create something new and different, if you aren’t trying to do something Zuckerbergian, your goal isn’t the problem. Your approach is the problem. If you aren’t willing to find a new way to fill an ongoing and nearly universal need, if you aren’t willing to do something Netflixian, your goal isn’t the problem. Your approach is the problem.

– Which of the following sound more powerful and affirmational? “I can’t skip my workout today” or “I don’t miss workouts”? “I can’t give you a discount” or “We don’t discount our products”? “I can’t make time for that, so sorry” or “I don’t have a single open slot in my calendar”? “I can’t” sounds tissue-paper thin because it’s a decision based on external reasons or causes…

– “I don’t” sounds like a brick wall because it comes from deep inside you. It’s part of your identity. It’s who you are.

– YOU ‘DON’T’ MAKE EXCUSES FOR YOURSELF.  Take “I don’t miss workouts”. If we say “I can’t miss my workout”, we tend to automatically start to find excuses — we start to rationalize why this occasion may be an exception, why it may be actually be better if we skip it. But when you “don’t” miss workouts, period, you don’t start to rationalize. It’s just not who you are.

– Pick something you want to do and try it. As Seth Godin says, once you had to wait: to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected . . . to somehow be “discovered.” Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can publish your own work, distribute your own music, create your own products, or attract your own funding. You can do almost anything you want— and you don’t need to wait for someone else to help you.

– A quote often attributed to Jim Rohn goes, There are two types of pain you will go through in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.

– When you’re sitting in that rocking chair at 80, you’ll think about the things you wanted to become. That’s why personal goals are important not just to set but to achieve. Achieving personal goals, no matter how silly, how frivolous, or how impractical, is rewarding. And as you pursue those goals you meet new people, make new connections, build new friendships, and, best of all, feel better about yourself.

– You can’t have it all . . . but you can have a lot. But first you must know what you really want. Be honest with yourself. What do you want to achieve for yourself and your family? What do you most value spiritually, emotionally, or materially? What do you most want to do? In what setting, or what pursuit, are you happiest?

– If you’re not happy, rethink your definition of success. The one you have is not working for you. You can’t have it all. You shouldn’t want to have it all because that’s the best way to wind up unhappy and unfulfilled. But you can have a lot more than you currently do, whether what you want more of is professional or personal success. So start pursuing the goals that will make you happy.

– You must fulfill your basic needs first and foremost. Otherwise you will not be able to sustain motivation for anything you want to do…

– If you currently aren’t healthy, don’t feel good about your primary relationships (or the people with whom you are in those relationships don’t feel good about you), and aren’t making enough money, then you have no business taking on any goal that does not make one of those areas of your life better. It’s impossible to feel fulfilled and happy if you aren’t taking care of your basic needs.

– Happiness requires evenly balancing your multiple nonnegotiable goals, blending in a negotiable goal where appropriate . . . and never, ever forgetting to self-evaluate along the way to ensure the balance never gets out of whack. For brief periods of time it’s okay if that balance is off, but do that for long, and everything falls apart: your motivation, your confidence, your small successes— and ultimately, your happiness.

Make Maslow happy and you will definitely be happier. [Fulfill essential needs first.]

– Your goal must be unquestionably measurable.

– The best goals are binary: They’re so specific you can’t help but know whether you have achieved them or not. They’re also based on an activity, not a hard-to-quantify state of mind or state of being.

– You will never achieve your goals if your approach is to wait. Don’t just have a bias for action. Be active— be active doing the things that are most likely to help you achieve your goals.

– To Gain Incredible Willpower . . . Need Less Willpower

– Start small. Success → Motivation → More Success → More Motivation creates an awesomely virtuous cycle, so why not gain some immediate successes that will motivate you to knock off even bigger goals? …

– Do ANYTHING worthwhile that you’ve been meaning to do. Empty a trash can. Pick up clothes off your floor. Go buy shampoo. Anything will do. Then do another little thing. Ride that success cycle. Little accomplishments lead to more little accomplishments, and before you know it your collective little accomplishments become a BIG accomplishment.

– On Planning: Don’t create a plan based on “I’ll work as long as I can” or “I’ll work as long as I feel productive.” Set a concrete target. Commit to working for twelve hours, or however long a time frame you choose.

Totally commit to how long you decided to work.

– Delayed gratification is always better gratification— and better motivation.

EPD: Extreme Productivity Day. [Allow these to happen!]

– Momentum is everything on an EPD (and on every other day).

– Don’t stop until you’re done— even if finishing takes longer than expected.

– Finishing what you start, achieving what you set out to achieve, also produces a fun side benefit. Accomplishing more than you may have thought possible unconsciously resets your internal limit on your output. We all have a little voice inside that says, “I’ve done enough” or “I’m exhausted. I just can’t do more.” But that little voice lies. We can always do more. Stopping is a choice.

– [Recall the ‘Million Dollar Technique’ to prove to yourself you’re not literally too tired or in too much pain to keep going: if someone appeared and said, “I will give you a million dollars if you finish this”, you would finish it! You choose not to keep going because it’s uncomfortable. You almost certainly CAN keep going.]

– Here’s the thing about being ‘done.’ When you truly have nothing left in the tank, you either black out, pass out, or die. That’s it. Otherwise you have more in you. It’s all about getting past your comfort zone. We always have more gas in the tank. We just don’t think we do because no one wants to run on reserve. They don’t want to go past what they think is their limit.

[REMEMBER: if you set out to do something, and you decide to stop, you are almost certainly either:

1. Being weak.


2. Bullshitting. (Which is also being weak.)

If you’re internally complaining and making excuses about something you’ve decided to do that needs doing — “I’m so tired” , “I’m too sore” , “I can’t work under these distracting conditions” — you are being weak. Period.

If you’re coming up with reasons why it’s best not to keep going, you are bullshitting yourself. Rationalizing is bullshitting. Bullshitting is making excuses: “It’s better to do this later” , “I don’t want to injure myself”, “I don’t want collapse from exhaustion”. All bullshit. 

You can rationalize all you want about wanting to stop, but you don’t need to stop — you CAN keep going. You almost never actually have to worry about over-doing it.]

– “Winning is a mind-set. Refusing to give up is a mind-set. When you learn that you can do more than you thought in one aspect of your life, you can apply that to every other area of your life.

– Every Sunday, map out your week.

– The key is to create structure and discipline for your week. Otherwise you’ll let things happen to you instead of making things happen. Otherwise you’ll let “urgent” push aside what is truly important.

– Actively block out task time. If you don’t proactively block out that time, those tasks will slip. Or those tasks will get interrupted. Or you’ll lose focus. Whatever the reason, important tasks will never be completed.

– Follow a realistic to-do list [and treat those to-dos like confirmed, nonnegotiable appointments.]

– Norman Mailer said, “Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.”

– If you want to succeed, you can’t make excuses. Forge ahead. Establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort. Success and achievement are habits, and it’s incredibly easy to instantly create a bad habit by giving in, even just once.

– Stop letting disapproval, or even scorn, stand in your way. … Work too hard, strive too hard, appear to be too ambitious, try to stand out from the crowd . . . It’s a lot easier, and much more comfortable, to reel it in so that you fit in. Pleasing the (average-performing) crowd is something you simply can’t worry about. (You may think about it, but then you have to keep pushing forward. And yes, I know, that’s hard. I struggle with it too.)

– To succeed, hear the criticism, take the shots, endure the laughter or derision or even hostility— and stick to measuring yourself and your efforts by your own standards.

[Do not fear success. Success does not mean you have to become a new person. It doesn’t mean you’ll all of a sudden have constant responsibility. Objectify success — don’t think of it as something so transformative, as if it’s a new identity. …

Don’t let yourself perceive success as if it’s a heavy crown. Your level of success will almost certainly NOT come with a crown, let alone one that’s too heavy for you to handle. Don’t fear ‘getting crowned’ – it ain’t gonna happen, and if it did, it would be worth it and you could handle the weight.]

– Stop waiting for inspiration. Occasionally, great ideas do just come to us. Mostly, though, creativity is the result of effort: toiling, striving, refining, testing, and experimenting. The work itself results in inspiration. Don’t wait for ideas. Don’t wait for inspiration. Big ideas most often come from people who do, not people who dream.

[HUGE. Stop waiting for the perfectly inspiring book, or article, or podcast, or whatever. You can’t always rely on inspiration to get you doing. It is impractical and inefficient, and it perpetuates instability. Your inspiration tank is generally plenty full – you don’t need to start every day with a full tank of gas of the best possible quality, nor do you with inspiration. You will know for sure when your inspiration is low – it will prompt you to refill. Otherwise, if your low inspiration light isn’t on, assume you have plenty to get you by and don’t worry about finding the nearest filling station.]

Stop stopping! Successful people finish— unless there’s a very, very good reason not to finish, which, of course, there almost never is.

– You can do a little more, somehow, and make it go a long way. Figure out what that is. You can do the extra research. You can help customers before they even think to ask. You can go beyond just telling your employees what to do; you can show them what to do and work beside them.

– You’re only as good as you are today, right here, right now, in this moment, and that’s why detail matters as much as, or more than, ideas and execution. A great idea is great only when you execute that idea incredibly well.

– Willpower isn’t something you have or don’t have. Willpower is sometimes a function of necessity. (There are lots of things you can do when your back is against the wall and you feel you have no choice.) More often, willpower is a function of success. It’s easy to stay the course when you feel good about what you’re accomplishing.

– The process of accomplishment starts with designing your daily life so it supports your goals.

[DESIGN your life. Think of ‘establishing structure’ as designing, and think of adhering to structure as an exhibition of your own design.]

– Choices are the enemy of willpower. So are ease and convenience. Think of decisions that require willpower, and then take willpower totally out of the equation.

[You must modify environmental conditions to your advantage as much as possible if you wish to maximize focus and conserve willpower.]

– The goal is to make certain actions automatic rather than continuously have to make decisions about what to do, because decisions require willpower. The power of routine not only will make you more efficient but will also make it a lot easier for you when the time comes to make important decisions.

– Regardless of what decisions you decide to make, here’s one thing you definitely should decide: what you’ll do first when you get to work. That way you can do the hardest things you need to do first.

– Generally speaking, the best time for us to get important things done is in the morning. Embrace this. [For many reasons including biological, psychological, and social]

– Create reminders of your long-term goals.

‘Tangible reminders: reminders that are clear and effective — reminders that you know will work

– Remove temptation altogether. Why keep it around when it’s so easy to remove?

Rework your environment so you eliminate your ability to be impulsive. Then you don’t have to exercise any willpower at all. [This is HUGE. Barriers work. If you never keep junk food in your kitchen, you will not eat it as often.]

– OR take the opposite approach: Put your running clothes on the floor by your bed so you’ll have to put them away if you decide to skip your morning run.

– As you know by now, the key to accomplishing your goals is to build the right HABITS and follow the right ROUTINES. When you control your environment, you make building those habits easy— and you make following the right routines as close to automatic as possible.

[HUGE. Core lesson of the book.]

– Always choose to see your life and future as within your control.

– SEALs, Army Rangers, Green Berets: Their training is designed to identify people who can stay the course, no matter what. Yet tenacity is not their most important quality. Take it from Tyler Grey, an Army Ranger: ADAPTABILITY is the most important quality [along with making a nonnegotiable commitment where quitting is literally not an option.]

– “Adaptability is the ability to recognize the construct and working mechanisms of a system, figure out how it works, adapt to it, and then adapt it to your needs and goals.”

– So how do you get past the pain, the struggle, and the occasional failure? “Discomfort is growth,” Tyler says. “To constantly improve, and to be more resilient and adaptable, whenever there is a fork in the road, choose discomfort over comfort and you will grow.

– Resist the Temptation to Complain, Criticize, or Whine. Period. [Complaining and whining have never really helped solve anything, nor will they ever. They are majorly destructive to goals.]

– [True gratitude should motivate. If you’re truly grateful for your freedom to act, you should be motivated.]

– One Question Provides Nearly Every Answer:

“Will this help me reach my goal? … If not, I won’t do it.”

Indecision is born of a lack of purpose: When you know what you truly want, most of your decisions can— and should— be almost automatic.

Would a person saving money to buy an investment property buy a new Jaguar? Nope. Easy.

– What do you want to achieve? Whom do you want to become? Place yourself there. Say, “I am fit.” Say, “I am a CEO.” Say, “I am a millionaire.” Say, “I am a great parent.” You’ll get the answer you need— and you’ll stay on course to becoming the person you want to be.

[Operate as if you’re already there. Don’t fake it, just take action as if it’s easy. If you’re a champion, and you have the mindset of a champion, practice isn’t a big deal. But if you’re not a champion and don’t mentally relate yourself as a champion, practice can seem like a big deal — it can make it seem like becoming a champion is too far off and practice won’t help. But if you have the mindset of champion — if you can get yourself to where you can genuinely identify with that state of mind — then practice is no big deal. Practice is easy for a champion.] …

[Make decisions not only relative to their direct service of a goal, but also make them as if you’re already at your goal and can’t go back: Say ‘I AM’, not ‘I want to be’… I am an involved parent, I’m a very fit person, I’m a successful investor. Deciding from those vantage points helps to ensure that you’re deciding properly.]

– Create the right environment so that willpower isn’t even necessary.

– Process is everything. Routine is everything. Let nothing stand in its way.

[And remember: this allows you to Create and Design, and that’s fun. Create your own routine. Design your own process.]

– [Grinding: Consistently DOING all the tasks, especially all the little tasks, necessary to advance you closer to your goal.]

– Routine is UP-FRONT effort, and it’s a lot LESS effort. Effort towards routine is PROACTIVE effort that turns effort on tasks into PASSIVE effort. ROUTINE effort is also EASIER than TASK effort. You know exactly what actions to take and how much energy they will require in a routine, which makes the effort investment much smoother and more reliable.

We adapt to routine much more easily than we adapt to repeated unknown hard work.]

– Highly accomplished people gain superior skills not by bursting through the envelope but by approaching and then slowly and incrementally expanding the boundaries of that envelope.

– Reaching and Repeating: Practice should require you to operate at the edge of your abilities. In short, you have to consistently reach and constantly repeat.

– Engagement: Practice must command your attention and make you feel emotionally invested in striving for a goal.

– GO SIGNIFICANTLY SLOWER, but DON’T STOP. Deliberately go slower while engaging a top priority. Allow yourself the entire day to finish…

The perception of needing to do something efficiently is often counterproductive to getting started. Instead of imagining the task as something that you can and should do pretty quickly, take the opposite approach: anticipate it as if you’ll go about as slowly as possible.

In consideration of longer-term conditioning for doing tasks: If you think, “Ok, I can (I should be able to) get this task done in 30 minutes.”, and then when the time comes to do it you rush it and still only get half of it done, then the next time you have to do that task or a similar task, it will seem undoable. If you set a time expectation for yourself, and you rush to meet that expectation, not only does the quality of the task tend to suffer, but it adds a sense of difficulty to the task:  not only do you have to do the task, but you feel like you have to do it under a time constraint, which is a second task in itself.

If you go deliberately slow — not in an extreme manner, but rather in the sense of taking your pace down a level from your average pace, as if you’re sort of purposely ‘anti-rushing’ — then you will remain focused and ensure completion of the task.

When task completion is imperative, GO DELIBERATELY SLOW. (Again, not extremely slow, but a full step slower than your moderate speed. You really don’t need to worry about going too slow because your body will naturally steady itself.)

Going DELIBERATELY SLOW relieves all pressure: removes the added task of beating time and in turn motivates you to get started with ease AND stay doing until it’s completed. And all the while — while you’re not experiencing pressure — you will be significantly improving the quality of your efforts.

– “Success is based on people first and strategy second. Build a great team and you will accomplish things beyond your wildest dreams.”

– Few things are more stressful than not knowing what is expected from one day to the next.

– Challenges work best when you impose structure, helping you stay on track and reducing the temptation to lose resolve and rationalize that you should change your goal midstream.

– Once you have structure, knowing what [tasks] to do is easy. All that’s required is that you remember to actually do it.

[This is the ultimate. It doesn’t matter WHAT your routine is, it matters that you FOLLOW THROUGH with it: Form your routine, and establish your daily tasks, ONLY in consideration of what you WILL do. Not what you want to do or should do. But what you definitely will do.

Once you get used to the routine, and build momentum on ‘doing’, then you can add to your routine or make it more disciplined. And then you can add priorities & other important tasks. But starting out, only schedule what you will do.

Make your routine as easy as you want. But keep the routine. Still focus on your goal and what’s important to achieve it, and keep your priority schedule worthwhile, but make it easy enough that you can’t fail, then build off that.]

On seeking inspiration and guidance:

– Whom you choose to admire— and it is a choice— says more about you than about that person. We tend to admire certain people because we see something of ourselves in them. We like to think that what they do and how they do it indicates what we would do if given the chance.

– It doesn’t matter whom you admire. It doesn’t matter whom you look to for inspiration; you’re seeking more of a blueprint for success. Whom you choose is important only in that their approach to success will help you achieve your goals.

– How to approach a group effort when you feel incompetent or when feel like you don’t belong: Start quietly and just do the work. Show up every time. Contribute in small ways but otherwise lie low. Show that you recognize you’re new and currently less able. Keep showing up.

– Some limits are physical. Some are mental. Some we simply can’t do anything about. But in most cases – THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME – our limits are self-imposed.

– It’s easy to rationalize that we’ve done enough. It’s tempting to think we’ve done all we can, especially when we’re tired. And so we stop. But that little voice lies: With the right motivation, or under the right circumstances, we can always do more. Stopping is nearly always a choice. We don’t have to stop; we choose to stop.

– Once you reach a certain level of expertise, your rate of improvement typically slows . . . and it’s natural to assume you’re near your limit. But you really aren’t. You just think so because you’ve started comparing your present self with your past self instead of with what is actually possible. You’ve started to look back at how far you’ve come instead of looking forward to see just how far you can still go. You assume you’re as good as you’re likely to ever be.

[Huge. Most likely case: You’ve only done ‘enough’ relative to what you intended to do. You reached a goal or a variation of a goal, and maybe even surpassed it. But the reality is you’ve only maxed out an approach and completed an aspect of the limited goal you set out for yourself, and there are typically numerous other approaches and aspects for you to develop that will not only grow you overall – that not only will expand your abilities on the subject or field – but when you revisit your initial goal accomplishment, the one you figured you couldn’t get any better at, or weren’t willing to go any further, you will find that you now have a new potential threshold, for both ability and willingness.]

– Start comparing your present self— regardless of how far you think you have already come— with what is actually possible. Stop looking back. Start looking forward to see how far you can still go.

– You may never be as talented as the absolute best in the field or pursuit you choose, but you will definitely achieve much more than your self-imposed limits allowed you to think was ever possible.

[Huge. You really do have to BELIEVE in your ability to grow. Without continuous belief in yourself, achieving your goal is a long slog.}

– (Guest anecdote) — “When things aren’t going so well, you simply do whatever it takes. When I was struggling, I had no pride in terms of what jobs I would take: I drove vans, passed out things on the street, waited tables, did bar work, cleaned houses. . . . The mortgage doesn’t pay itself. That was motivation enough. “On the flip side, having kids gives you less time to devote to putting food on the table. …

When you have kids, you think you’ll have less time, but I actually find more time. We waste so many hours in the day procrastinating. Nowadays those hours when the kids are at school are the ones that I make sure I use to get the work done. (I don’t want to take away from time with the kids.) I don’t waste it; I use that time. I find myself getting far more done as a parent because I seize those opportunities. Ultimately, I do everything for my family. Even if means staying up all night, you make the time.”

– Do you have a choice? If your goal means enough to you, then you don’t. Act that way. Hanging in there and staying the course will help fuel your motivation to continue.

[This may be the essence of fundamental human motivation in an evolutionary sense: we may only be technically motivated to do what we HAVE to do – to fulfill REAL, imminent needs. We have a natural sense of ‘having’ to do something, as if to survive, and when we have that sense of ‘have to’, we do it, and it feels relatively easy. This sense of necessity allows us to do very difficult and very inconvenient or disruptive things. And it’s why when that sense isn’t activated we cannot bring ourselves to do very easy tasks. The good news is, with expanded awareness, better understanding, and consistent practice, we can develop our sense of ‘have to’ and apply it as needed so that we stop perceiving as if we just should do it. So practice mentally re-framing tasks as have-to.]

– Confidence is earned each and every day . . . and the process often starts when you dive in and do what you’re most afraid to do.

– As long as you keep going [in the direction of your goal], you’ll keep getting better. Period. Keep going — keep showing up, go through the motions, and you’ll steadily be getting better. And as you get better, you gain more confidence.

– We all have our sweet spot— yet most of us spend a fraction of our day actually working in our sweet spots. The key is to find ways to delegate or streamline all the tasks that distract you from doing what you do best, because when you do more of what you do best, you achieve more— and your career or your business or your personal life naturally flourishes.

– In fact, if you want to achieve a huge goal, as well as succeed at all your other responsibilities, you need to learn how to say no to most things that come your way. Otherwise other people— and other choices— will place incredible demands on your most valuable resource: your time.

– Prune Your To-Do List: A twenty- or thirty-item to-do list is just a wish list. A twenty- or thirty-item to-do list is not just depressing, it’s impossible. Why start when there’s no way you can finish? You don’t— and you don’t. …

Instead, create an actual wish list. Write down all the ideas, projects, tasks, etc. you can think of. Make it a “would like to do” list. Then choose the three or four items from that list that will make the biggest difference. Pick the easiest tasks to accomplish, or the ones with the biggest payoff, or the ones that will eliminate the most pain. Make that your to-do list. Get it done. Then, and ONL Y THEN, you can go back and choose three or four more items from your wish list.

– Think about the things (eg hobbies or social activities) you do that once were fun or purposeful but now they only feel like a counterproductive chore, and they’ve felt like that for quite awhile now. … If you haven’t made a formal commitment to yourself or someone else, and it really pains you to keep going through with whatever it is, end that thing. End it on a good note, but end it, at least for now. Especially if you have more meaningful engagements you’d rather pursue. If it’s really important and worthwhile, you can pick it back up in the future, Everyone has to drop these type of things at some point. Those things drain your motivation. They’re different from formal goals. It’s not quitting if you haven’t actually made a commitment to doing it. If the main point of doing it in the first place was for enjoyment, and now it’s entirely unenjoyable, fade it out quickly, and your motivation will immediately reinvigorate. Just make sure to fully engage the more meaningful thing you’re wanting to do in place of it.

– The “1 percent advantage” works incredibly well for one simple reason: Small improvements add up to a major overall improvement. Ever so slightly streamline your morning routine, the way you handle e-mail, the way you handle voice mail, the way you schedule appointments . . . and soon you can free up thirty minutes of your day so you can (you guessed it) do more of what you do best.

[Go the extra step. Then go another step. Then another. Eventually you’ll have gone the extra mile.]

– The 1 percent advantage focuses on breaking down all the component parts of a pursuit and then making a marginal but meaningful improvement to each one of those parts. You don’t have to become phenomenally better at one task— you can just get a teeny bit better at a number of tasks. [Especially good for exercise/fitness.]

– You can do anything one percent better. (And really when you try to apply 1% more effort it will probably end up creating much more than a 1% improvement — you can probably do most things at least 5% – 10% more effectively if you just try to improve by 1%.)

– Everyone starts at the bottom. Everyone starts out insecure and hesitant and uncertain. The only difference between incredibly successful people and the rest of us? They found a way to put aside their uncertainties . . . and try.

– Don’t tell me your goals. Don’t tell me your dreams. Tell me your plan.

To Establish and Develop Genuine and Consistent Motivation:

Create a routine (and above all stick to that routine). Design your plans & schedules (your longer-term plans; your weekly plans, your daily schedules). Engage the most important tasks first, and go deliberately slow if necessary. Embrace your sense of accomplishment as you complete tasks.

With this process, you get to create. You get to design. You get to focus on one important thing at a time until it’s done, and you get to feel accomplished, over and over, upon doing the tasks you intended to do in service of your most meaningful goals. That’s how you get motivated and stay motivated.

This process is much more sustainably motivating than the myth of trying to continuously recall abstract goals, psyching yourself up, and forcing yourself to constantly do stuff despite not having any real direction.