The Motivation Trap

3 Things Wrong with Motivation

1. The over promotion of motivation and happiness is causing anxiety. The expectation to be “on” the whole time is unrealistic and research is now showing that this increases rumination in response to failure. [McGuirk, L., Kuppens, P., Kingston, R., & Bastian, B. (2018). Does a culture of happiness increase rumination over failure?]

2. Dumping on yourself for NOT being motivated. You start to doubt yourself and this….

3. Leads to inaction. How? If motivation becomes the prerequisite for taking action (cooking, cleaning, commuting, reading, learning, exercising, working hard, going on a date, being intimate….you know DOING LIFE) then you will put off doing something until you are motivated.

The combination of all three dysfunctional thinking, then leads you down a negative loop of Anxiety, Doubt and more Inaction, and even less ‘motivation’ because you start to feel bad about yourself. The negative talk kicks in: “I am not fit enough, I am not smart enough, I am not pretty enough, I don’t have enough time, my parents messed me up, I went to the wrong school, it’s in my genes.”

I am not saying motivation is totally bad. It is just transient, and we should not be relying on it to ‘do life’. Motivation is not what makes for progress. Even imagine if business ran on motivation and not workflow systems? There would be no consistency. Business runs on processes, systems, performance of essential tasks for customers. Business does not perform those tasks when it feels motivated.

So, we have systems for working, then why not have systems for living?

Systems For Living

Let’s hit the reset button. In fact, I suggest you STOP using the word “motivation” in sentences such as “I am not motivated to….” Or “I am waiting to get motivated….” Or “I need someone who is self-motivated…”. It serves no purpose and is a useless cliché.  

Let’s talk about what REALLY works. SYSTEMS. The theme at next years Upgrade Your Life event is 2020-VISION but what most people are not expecting is that this theme is NOT about getting pumped up on goals. Everyone has goals. Some people materialise them and yet others dont. WHY? Motivation? Definitely not. The key is CLARITY.

CLARITY not just for your VISION but for what you need TO DO on a daily basis to materialise your vision. You know, taking ACTION. WHAT type of ACTION? This is where systems come in. Rituals, habits, hacks, frameworks, tools, techniques.

The Biggest CON and MYTH: ‘Successful people run on motivation’

Successful people do NOT run on motivation. They run on systems. The moment you start appreciating this, is the time you will take all the anxiety and doubt off your shoulders. Successful people have rituals, habits and hacks that they follow every day, whether they are having a bad day or a great day, whether they feel energetic or not, whether they have had an argument or not, whether someone wronged them or not, whether they have eaten or not, whether they slept well or not, whether, whether, whether….. They show up and follow the process. Sometimes, motivation flows as a result of that, but motivation is not a prerequisite.

The Motivation Trap – Dont Become a Target

If you rely on motivation in your life, you will become addicted to positive meme’s and inspirational people/talks. You will need them like a daily drug to get you going. And you will get addicted to social media because it fuels this addiction. You will spend your energy chasing instead of doing. Please don’t. You will end up being an easy target for people trying to sell you stuff to keep you pumped. A friend recently confided in spending $10,000 on a program that did NOTHING for her. It angered me so much. Systems are FREE and there are many caring people in the wold today sharing systems that deliver. David Goggins is one of them.

Our Speakers Never Talk About Motivation

If you really listen to all our speakers who present at our Upgrade Your Life event, you will notice a common thread. None of them talk about motivation. They talk about principles, values, processes, rituals, habits, hacks and routines.

Even inspirational people like David Goggin’s snubs motivation. He talks ‘being uncommon among the uncommon’, ‘going dark’, ‘callousing the mind’, ‘the new norm’. He is sometimes labelled as motivational, but he tells people not to hero-worship him. In his book Can’t Hurt Me he tells us that if you follow your own system for living, you will become your own hero and not need anyone, or any course or any program. I share a video below of an interview he gave on London Real, which gives you an insight of the difference between motivation and ‘doing’.

BELOW the video I have included comments from people in our Higher Branch Community and how they have overcome REAL LIFE hardship and their TRANSFORMATION by following the systems that David Goggins espouses. Notice their comments say nothing about motivation! 

Click the thumbnail below or click here to watch the video >>>

Life Hack #5: Your 6th Sense

Are You Genetically Gifted

You could possibly have a gene that gives you a competitive edge in harnessing the power of visualisation. More on that later.

Nobody ever thinks of their 5 senses as superpowers but all the science shows that it is our 5 senses that determines how we experience the world, how long we live and the quality of our living. Now science is discovering a 6th sense that can create everything we ever wanted out of life. This is mind-blowing and one that we will be covering at Upgrade Your Life 2020. For now please read on to discover the miracle of this 6th sense.

Whether you believe in creation or evolution, you have to accept that we are never given a faculty by accident. Our taste buds are there for the sense of taste and smell for avoiding toxic food, eyes for seeing and finding food and water; ears for hearing your child cry at night and as an alarm for predators; and touch for intimacy and tactile creation. Every sense serves a purpose. So why are humans the only living creatures on the planet to ALSO have creative imagination. Why do we have the ability to envision goals and dreams and hold them as emotions?

Before you dismiss this as an article on nonsense such as “The Secret” I want you to know that I have a bias for action. I believe in hard work. I believe that hope without habit is futile. I don’t believe in motivation. I believe it is our actions that define our identity and hence our future behaviours. BUT what precedes our actions? VISION & THOUGHTS. We need to have a vision and CLARITY on where we are going and WHY we are taking action.

Creative imagination is a faculty just like our 5 physical senses… BUT this 6th senses is by far the most powerful! Most people use it to imagine the worst that can happen in life (I know this all too well. As a trained lawyer I am trained to pre-empt the worst-case scenario and draft contracts to help my clients avert it). BUT for those who know how to harness the power of imagination and visualise the best things in life (a healthy body, great relationships, material abundance to name the typical) then this is a faculty you need to know how to use. Please don’t waste it. It holds the key to a whole dimension so few know hot to step into.

Imagine it. Done.

Creative imagination or “Emotional Visualisation” as I call it has helped me manifest just about everything in my life. The person I am married to, the house I live in, my body and mind, the friends I hang with, etc… this is all a manifestation of the future visual I hold deep in my emotions. If you walk into my Sydney office at MSA National where we have over 100 people and look at every detail from floor to walls to furniture to layout, the smiles on people’s faces, the culture, the innovation, that was once and remains all in my creative imagination. During meditation I visualised it so clearly and held gratitude ‘in advance’ that my heart and mind believed it to be true ahead of time.

The first ever event of Upgrade Your Life is another example of that manifestation. Watch the highlights here and note that every smile, every tear, every experience, every speaker, every aha moment, every dance, was all once in my head. People asked me after the event: did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that the event could be so beautiful? A smile always appears on my face, because I visualised it in my heart and mind so clearly. I just had to show up every day and watch the magic of the universe reveal the path I needed to take. Sure, I did have to overcome all my doubts and fears. Who doesn’t have them??? We all do. But if you trust this “Emotional Visualisation” you can’t go wrong. I call it ‘emotional’ because you have to have that gratitude in your heart in advance. What does that mean?

A beautiful thing happens when you fall in love with your future. When you feel like your future has already happened there is a synchronisation between your energy and that potential in the quantum field. You start to draw experiences (or synchronicities) that help you manifest that visual because you are connected to that future energy. I am not proposing anything radical here. Dr Joe Dispenza recently wrote multiple books about this phenomena and his events, attracting hundreds of people, sell out within minutes of release. People have healed themselves from auto-immune diseases to arteriosclerosis using creative visualisation.

Do You Have A Genetic Competitive Edge?

I was extremely sceptical about this field of epigenetic for many years until I learned that Science had discovered a gene that is unique to ‘some’ humans that gives them the ability to tap into creative imagination at will, to manifest whatever is possible in the quantum field. This genotype known as rs4680(A;A) is in the coding region of the COMT gene. People with this genotype are associated with higher levels of dopamine in the pre-frontal cortex, a region implicated in the placebo and nocebo response. This phenomenon occurs when a person experiences a physiological response to what he or she thinks is happening. This is nothing new. People who use their creative imagination to imagine an illness have a psychosomatic response. The expectation elicits a response. Whether that response is positive or negative all depends on the individual using their imagination. People who use it to imagine the worst, end up attracting what they fear. People who know how to use it for good, usually are people who enjoy amazing success in their life.

Does this mean that people who don’t have this genotype, cannot tap into their 6th sense? No. It’s just harder. Just like you have some people who are gifted at running long distances or swimming or whatever, this does not mean you cannot do what they do; it just means you have to train harder (Exhibit A = David Goggins – he was negative buoyant and went on to complete navy seal ‘hell week’ 3 times – the most in history). So please do not give up on this faculty just because you discover you don’t have this gene.

I know this life-hack in the series is not as sexy and as easy as the usual diet and lifestyle hacks out there but just because it is a little difficult to understand it does not mean you should dismiss it. It is extremely powerful, which is why we will be teaching this superpower at Upgrade Your Life. Our faculty members from Alessandra Edwards (DNA-based performance expert), Mark Bunn (Ayurvedic Medicine teacher) and Tom Sullivan (meditation coach) will be stepping you through the system for tapping into your creative imagination at will and materialising the life you were meant to live. This is NOT a sales pitch. It’s just that this 6thsense is not as easy as the other senses to explain in one article. It needs to be taught in a workshop and practised like any other skill. But if you do master it, I promise you that your life will open up to a whole new level.

2 More BAD Habits You MUST Break

Today we will cover the remaining two bad habits you need to replace. I share these with you without judgement. We all drift in the direction of our bad habits, but by having a system for behavioural change, you can replace these habits with better ones. And so, I humbly share this content with you in the hope it will make a BIG difference in your life as it has in mine.

Bad Habit #4 – Doing things with haste for no apparent reason

In a fast world people are now addicted to speed. This is a destructive habit that will destroy your health and relationships. Eating, driving, working, making love, scrolling, reading, texting….everything done in haste for no apparent reason puts a lot of pressure on you and ironically makes you slow, sick and stupid. I say this with the utmost of respect. The science clearly shows that when you do things with haste the stress you put on your mind and body ironically slows you down and makes you ineffective. And the stress hormones (especially adrenalin and cortisol) surging through your system make you physically sick over time. It will impair your digestion, you will not absorb what you eat, you will have trouble sleeping, and it’s a downhill spiral from there. A lot of people use exercise as therapy to neutralise the effects of speed-induced-stress but the better method is to SLOW DOWN! There is usually no reason to speed up. Almost everything we do day-to-day can wait or be done in a slower, methodical manner. There is not one piece of research showing any benefit whatsoever from doing things quickly.

As the godfather of the slow movement, Carl Honore says, “I am not anti-speed but there is a time for doing things quickly and a time for slow living.”

How do you know you are addicted to speed?

· You get a rush from meeting self-imposed deadlines
· You find it difficult to sit and do nothing for more than 10 minutes
· You find it difficult to focus and listen to what the other person is saying
· You need alcohol to relax and constantly crave carbs/sweets
· You find it difficult to notice beauty around you. Or you are numb to it

The solution: Speed is an addiction. If you’re used to running on adrenalin, you will feel strange without it. Here are some tips to wean yourself off speed:

· Don’t do more than one thing at a time
· Don’t take call waiting – in fact you should disable this feature
· Don’t schedule too many meetings in a day
· Take at least 2 renewal breaks throughout the day to stretch, breath and meditate for 5 – 15 minutes
· Don’t take on too much work. Learn to say ‘no’
· Take a walk after work, preferably in nature. Go alone

If you’re interested in reading more about the dangers of speed I highly recommend the books: “In Praise of Slow” and “The Slow Fix”, both by Carl Honore.

Bad Habit #5 – Watching TV till late for no apparent reason

A surprising high percentage of adults get too comfortable in front of the television and mindlessly surf channels or binge. They use this to wind down and induce sleep. The problem with this is two-fold. Firstly, it delays your optimal going-to-bed sleep time, which depending on your chrono-type is between 9:30pm -11pm. (Don’t know your chronotype? Refer to my articles on sleep starting with: How to get The Best Sleep). Secondly, the artificial light from the TV may lull your eyes to get tired but it ironically delays the release of sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin; because the light tricks your body-clock into thinking it is still daytime. You need melatonin not only to get to sleep but to get deeper sleep; deep sleep is the most important part of your sleep cycle which detoxes your mind, body and emotions. It is the single most potent factor for you to look younger and live longer.

The simple solution: We set an alarm to wake up, why not set an alarm for sleep. My meditation app Headspace has a feature which prompts you with a notification to go to bed and listen to a sleep cast, which is the equivalent of a bedtime story. Don’t laugh, it works! Plug in your ear phones in bed and I guarantee you will nod off in record time!

5 BAD Habits You MUST Break

Before we continue the series I’d like to first bring your attention to the top 5 BAD HABITS you need to be aware of. Today I will cover three of them. I will cover the remaining two in upcoming blogs.

Please don’t hate me for pointing these bad habits out to you. I do it without judgement whatsoever. I sincerely wish you the best life, which is why I write these articles. I always come from a place of love and if you decide to take action I know it will make a BIG difference in your life as it has in mine.

I don’t believe there is a secret to life nor do I believe in waiting for inspiration or motivation before doing something. I do believe however in a number of incremental changes that you can make to your habits that compound over time to build a great life, brick-by-brick, day-by-day.

BAD Habit #1: Snacking on food all day

Your body has an intelligence where it naturally heals itself and constantly regenerates and repairs, not just when you are sleeping but also when you go hungry. If you are constantly snacking, you never allow your body to enter this state. Scientists are now discovering that our bodies are not genetically designed to continuously eat. We need to go hungry and this has been our way of life for thousands of years. We ate, we rested and then we hunted and gathered, but in between we went hungry, often. Today we call that ‘fasting’. 

We have a primal switch to consume food when it is available. The problem is that food is available everywhere at any time. Look, don’t get me wrong, I love my food experiences. I am not saying abstain from food but allow yourself to go hungry by not eating between meals. You should allow 3-5 hours between each meal depending on how large the previous meal was. Instead of setting a time period, it’s best to not eat until you actually feel the hunger in your stomach.

BAD Habit #2: Snacking on Technology/Social Media 

Having your phone on you the whole time, checking texts, emails, posts and getting constantly distracted by other notifications is an extremely poor habit that you MUST break. It has dire consequences on your cognitive performance and your relationships, especially if you have children. I have been talking about the harmful impact of pop-up notifications since 2010 but now the impact is a lot worse because it is overlaid by the highs and lows of social media ‘likes’ and the inevitable social comparisons people make. It is very damaging to your physical, mental and emotional health on so many levels. I recommend the highly acclaimed work of Georgetown University Professor Cal Newport called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distrated World.

The Solution: 

·     To do deep work you need to do a digital detox twice a day not once a year. Leave your phone behind whenever you get the chance. I do this when I am jogging, in the gym, shopping for groceries, attending meetings, cooking and in the bedroom. You need to make a point of detoxing for 20 mins twice a day, every day. And switch off your phone after 9pm at home.

·     Disable your email notifications on your laptop. In her research paper titled Why is it so hard to do my work?, Professor Leroy from University of Minnesota, found that people are less productive when they are constantly moving from one task to another instead of focusing on one thing at a time. She called it ‘attention residue’ and it is a real problem if you are trying to be effective and efficient. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of precious time trying to re-focus after the interruption and this reduces your ability to finish the task quickly and effectively. Which means you need to work longer hours for a sub-optimal result. This is time that could be spent socialising with family and friends.

BAD Habit #3: Shallow Breathing

Why is this a bad habit? Shallow breathing triggers your sympathetic nervous system because it tricks your body into thinking that you are under attack, i.e. fight or flight response. The problem with this state is that you cannot digest your food, sleep or do good work. The other problem with shallow breathing is that it builds up toxins in your body. How? Next time your naturopath talks you into a detox program of herbal tonics and juice fasts, you may want to remind them that 70% of the toxins in our body are expelled by the lungs during proper exhalation. The other 30% through sweating and elimination (number 1’s and 2’s). Breathing deeply is easy and its free!

These are the usual triggers for shallow breathing:

·     driving in traffic
·     at your laptop or pc
·     on your iPad or iPhone
·     sitting for long periods especially in meetings
·     when you are doing things in a hurry
·     when you are focusing on external things
·     whenever you are stressed
·     watching dramatic movies

The solution: It can be very difficult to catch yourself shallow breathing because you will usually do it when you are deep in thought. The next best thing is to set an alarm reminder every hour to stop, revive, survive. Revive by breathing in through the nose for 4 seconds, holding it for 5, and breathing out for 6 through your mouth. Do these 4 times every hour. It only takes 60 seconds every hour and is a whole lot cheaper than buying detox programs.

Essential Habit #5: Review & Reflection

This article is in a series of 4 rituals, 5 habits and 6 hacks that will revolutionise your life. You will find the series at A Higher Branch Blog Page.

What is Reflection and Review?

I touched on this habit in Ritual #1 on Journaling. When you develop the habit of reflecting and reviewing throughout the day, you flip any failures and rejections that inevitably happen into opportunities for LEARNING and GROWTH.

Why is this Habit Important?

Without a process for reflection and review, you will indulge in toxic thinking throughout the day. By the time the day is over and you arrive home, your feelings will be littered with negative beliefs about yourself. But when you ask yourself two simple questions in that moment you will avoid ruminating, you will feel better and you will sleep better that night ready for growth the next morning. The two simple steps/questions are:

· NOTICING: How am I feeling right now?
· LEARNING: What can I learn so I can do it differently next time?

Here are some examples of how we process rejection and failure without reflection and review and then with Reflection and Review:

Health: You did exercise and you feel rundown after it.

Without reflection and review your subconscious negative self-talk might sound like this: “I am not fit enough” or “I should wait until it gets warmer” or “I am just not cut out for exercise” or “I must be coming down with a cold”.

With reflection and review: “What can I learn from this? Did I eat too much before exercise? Do I need to get more sleep? Did I need to stretch? Did I over-train? Was I dehydrated? Should I train at a different time of day that suits my chrono-type?” What can I do differently next time?

Love & Relationships: You initiated intimacy and was rejected by your partner. Single? You initiated conversation and you were brushed.

Without Reflection and Review: “My partner does not find me attractive. My partner does not love me. I am dull and boring. I am ugly. I have nothing interesting to say.”

Now With Reflection and Review: “What can I learn from this? Did I choose the wrong timing to approach my partner/that person? Did they have a bad day? Were they feeling tired and self-conscious and not in the mood? How can I approach it differently next time?”

Work & Clients: Customer doesn’t call you back after a consultation.

Without Reflection and Review: “They don’t like me. I’m not good at my job. Others are better than me. I should try another job.”

Now with reflection and review: “What can I learn from this? Do they fear making a decision and a commitment? Was I coming on too strong? Did I listen enough in the meeting? Are they just not ready? What can I do differently next time?”

Notice from all the above examples, ALL reflection and review starts with step one: noticing and acknowledging your feelings and step 2: starting with the question: “WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS?” and finishes with the question “HOW CAN I DO IT DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?”

WHY Do We Dump on Ourselves?

If I can be honest with you, the major reason is that it is easier to indulge in negative self-talk (as much as it hurts) than to confront the pain. It gives us the excuse to fail and stop trying. It is much harder to stop, feel the pain, and reflect and review what you have learned. Why? Because your learnings require action and a lot of the time, the action requires you to pivot and step outside of your comfort zone. So review and reflection is tough. Step 1 requires you to feel the pain (you need to feel to heal). Step 2 requires you to learn, grow and do something different.

How do YOU cultivate this Habit?

To cultivate this habit, you need to practice mindfulness meditation. I know you have heard that word too many times but the truth is that mindfulness works. It helps you realise that you are not your thoughts. You need to step outside of your thoughts and notice (step 1) and take different action (step 2).

Just like Habit #2 on Situational Gratitude, this Habit #5 on Reflection and review must happen in the moment. It cannot wait until you get home and journal. By all means still do that, but for it to be most effective, it needs to be practiced right there and then, straight after the interaction that led to the sinking feeling from a fail or rejection. You need to process it on the fly. I often take moments out of my day in between meetings to do that. Now it’s a habit.

This is why this series of articles starts with the 4 rituals, including the ritual of daily meditation. It is meditation that helps you to notice your thoughts and feelings (being mindful). Without the ritual of daily meditation, you will find it difficult to develop the habit of Reflection and Review in the moment.

(Our meditation coach, Tom Sullivan, is an expert that can help you and your organisation learn the practice of mindful meditation. Please reach out to him by emailing our team on enquiries@ahigherbranch.com He coaches our team every two weeks and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.)