Most of the advice I see pandered about on the internet treats motivation as the step zero of any kind of personal development. Motivational videos, articles, stories -- they all serve to push you into action. Undoubtedly, feeling motivated is awesome. When you're caught in the wave of motivation it feels like you can do anything and that you will do anything. When you feel motivated it usually seems like it won't ever go away. That this feeling is the new normal. But you know that it always fades. The motivation you felt to change your life last week quickly becomes a distant memory.
You cannot let such a fickle force be the difference between meaningful personal development and being unhappily stuck where you are. It's too unpredictable and too fleeting to be responsible for something so important. Instead, let's think of feeling motivated as a happy coincidence. Its presence isn't required to make the changes you want to see in your life, but if you happen to feel motivated then perhaps it will be a little bit easier for you.
With that change in mindset, your energy can be focused on developing the discipline and habits necessary to make the changes you want to see in your life and not on generating feelings of motivation. It's usually possible to generate increased feelings of motivation but I think it takes much more energy and time than just getting out there and doing what needs to get done. You can sit down and psych yourself up to go for a run, read some success stories, watch an inspirational video or two -- or you can just put your shoes on and do it.
It's very freeing in a way. No longer do you have to be on a constant search for motivation before you can do what you know needs to be done and you don't need to try to bottle it and save it for later. If you have it, great. If not, you were going to move forward on your goals anyway because that's what you do as somebody who cares about personal development.
You do not operate at the whims of motivation. You are not motivation's prisoner.
Photo via mjzitek