Review: The Motivation Myth

The Motivation Myth Book Cover

Among all the personal development books I’ve come across, I must say that the title of this book perfectly aligns with my preferences about motivation, which is why I chose to read it. Despite not being a fan of motivation and motivators for quite some time, I couldn’t articulate the reasons behind it until I came across Jeff Haden’s book, “The Motivation Myth,” where he candidly explains them.

There is a common belief among us that motivation plays a crucial role in attaining success and reaching our objectives. We often seek out motivational speakers and inspirational books to inspire and energize ourselves. Still, the motivation derived from these sources tends to be short-lived, as we may forget the uplifting spirit we experienced the day before. In reality, motivation is an outcome of personal accomplishments, and it does not necessarily have to be a significant achievement. Each small success we embrace daily serves as a long-lasting fuel that propels us towards accomplishing the ambitious goals we set for ourselves, which may have been established quite some time ago.

The first half of the book is captivating, as it primarily focuses on taking action and appreciating the process. However, as I read further into the pages, I noticed repetitive sentences and advice that became overwhelmingly tedious. In the latter half, the book veers off-topic and goes into areas like entrepreneurship, which I didn’t anticipate finding in a book that claims to debunk the myth of motivation. It’s a double-edged sword, really. Some readers may find it refreshing, but as someone who specifically sought out a book on motivation, I found it lacking in that regard.


Success first, then you’ll be motivated. Not the other way around.

  • Success is the only recipe for gaining motivation
    • Making progress → dopamine hits → motivated
    • Enjoy small, seemingly minor success on a regular basis → you’ll stay motivated.

Motivation isn’t something you have. Motivation is something you get, from yourself, automatically, from feeling good about achieving small successes.

Jeff Haden, The Motivation Myth

Happiness and success

  • The real source of consistent, lasting happiness lies in the process.
  • Incredibly successful people set a goal and then focus all their attention on the process necessary to achieve that goal. They set a goal and then they forget the goal.
    • What they care about most is what they need to do todayand when they accomplish that, they are happy about today. They feel good about themselves today 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 comesbecause success, even tiny, incremental success, is the best motivational tool of all.

You don’t have to wait for “someday” to feel good about yourself; if you do what you planned to do today, you’re a winner.

Jeff Haden, The Motivation Myth

Motivation is not the spark

  • They think motivation is the spark that automatically produces lasting eagerness to do hard work. Actually, motivation is a result. Motivation is the pride you take in work you have already donewhich fuels your willingness to do even more.
  • Real motivation comes after you start. Motivation isn’t the result if hearing a speech or watching a movie or crisping your soles.
  • 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, breed confidence, creates a feeling of competence → breeds self-confidence
    • Success → breeds motivation. To feels good to improve so you naturally want to keep improving.
  • Once you get started, active, and doing somethingdoing not just anything but something you know will get you one step closer to your goal → the process gets easier. Motivation kicks in because you’ve gotten started.
    • You feel motivated because you took action.

You don’t need other people to support you

  • Research shows that people who talk about their intentions are much less likely to follow through on those intentions.
    • Identity-related behavioral intentions that had been noticed by other people were translated into action less intensively than those that had been ignored.
    • When other people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioral intention, this gives the individual a premature sense of possessing the aspired-to identity.
  • Declaring what we want to be and how we will get there causes us to feel we are further along the path of becoming who we want to beeven though we have in reality done nothing but talk.

Other people were not born with greater willpower.

  • Some people seem to have exceptional willpowerm but not because they actually have more. Instead, they’ve learned how to best use what they have. And as a result, they have what Angela Duckworth calls grit.
    • She says that what really drives success is not “genius” but a combination of passion and long-term perseverance.
  • 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 passion and goals.
    • Mental toughness builds the foundations for long-term success. Successful people are great at delaying gratification, withstanding temptation, and overcoming fear in order to do what they need to do. they don’t just prioritize; they consistently keep doing what they have decided is most important.

Happiness comes to a serial achiever.

  • Think about what you do well, and, most important, would really enjoy doing. Don’t choose an “and” you feel you should choose. Pick a side hustle your inner 20 year old will love. Being a serial achiever is a chance to explore, to delve, to expand, even to indulge–but with a purpose.
  • 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.

Success isn’t truly success.. unless you’re happy.

Jeff Haden, The Motivation Myth

Author: Jeff Haden

Publication date: 9 January 2018

Publisher: Portfolio

Number of pages: 288 pages


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