TFD: Motivation Is A Luxury

#thefreelancediaries via @mollyjacques

Hey guys and gals!

Today, my twin sister (yes, I have a twin) posted a witty article on Facebook to her husband who is a freelance writer. The article was all about why motivation is NOT the key to getting things done and meeting goals.

Let me start off with a little background info... My brother in law (his name is Jon) and I have very different jobs, but we often find ourselves chatting about similarities we face every day as we work. Ultimately, we have a few things in common: we set our schedules, we monitor our productivity, and we set and achieve or fall short of our own goals. These are all important aspects of being self employed and can make or break it for you. We don't have someone there to hold us accountable for finishing up a hard day of work or making sure we meet a deadline.

And this brings me to today's topic... Why motivation is a luxury. You see, I can't tell you how many times I get people saying to me: "Man, I don't know how you work from home. You have to be REALLY self-motivated!". I think that people assume that to be a successful freelancer, one must be motivated to do their job. 

But, you know what? Motivation is a luxury and is based on unreliable emotions. I love my job, but it's a job. I don't always feel like working but I sure don't wait until I have a spark of inspiration to finish what needs to be done that day. To be a successful freelancer, one doesn't need to be motivated, one needs to be well disciplined in their approach to work.

Wisdomnation put it well when they describe the difference between motivation and discipline...

"Motivation, broadly speaking, operates on the erroneous assumption that a particular mental or emotional state is necessary to complete a task. That’s completely the wrong way around. Discipline, by contrast, separates outwards functioning from moods and feelings and thereby ironically circumvents the problem by consistently improving themThe implications are huge."

See what I mean?

I hate to be a Debby Downer and rant here, but I think it's an important topic. So, for those of you reading this who are talented artists but for whatever reason are not meeting your goals, not getting consistent work, not maintaining healthy business relationships with clients, I'm going to offer up three bits of disciplinary advice that I encourage you to practice this week:



For any artist on the face of the planet, this probably is an administrative goal. Maybe it is answering every email in your inbox that day. Maybe it's going through your credit card statement to itemize your expenses for that month. Maybe it is making sure that your desk is clean at the end of every work day. All annoying things to do, I know, but doing these things regularly, and most importantly, when you don't feel motivated, is a step towards disciplinary success. It shapes the way you approach each day of work.



Every day. Make a to-do list. Itemize the list with things that need to be done right away and things that need to be done by the end of the day. Do all of those things. Even if you don't want to.



Thankfulness propels discipline. I know this sounds weird, but it's true. We always have something to be thankful for. Unmotivated because you hate your job? Guess what... The unemployment rate here in the U.S. is still around 5.6%. Not everyone else has the means to pay their rent and feed their family. To work is a privilege, not a given. If you are self employed and get to create art for a living, you should be pretty darn thankful. When you're thankful, you do work because it needs to be done. Not when "you feel like it" or feel "motivated". When you're thankful for what you do have, you stop obsessing over what you don't have.


... And that's it for today. Did you find this post helpful? Maybe you're like me and are astonished by how many people think you need to be self motivated all the time to get work done. Maybe not. I want to hear your thoughts. Comment below and share your story.