Stop chasing techniques that will make you productive and motivated

A reader on Quora asked me “How do I avoid losing focus on my goals after waking up?” and told a cornball story:

“I’m keen on the idea of moving out of my parents house and becoming self-sustaining. However, I find myself loosing all focus and motivation after going to sleep (ie, I wake up and fall into the same bad habits as before).”


Here goes my answer:

In my opinion, you need to stop being delusional first. We are all experts in lying to ourselves, and you seem to be the real master of this art.

Your deeds speak louder than your words

You are not keen on the idea of moving out of your parents’ house and becoming self-sustaining. You are keen on declaring that you are. Declarations satisfy your need to ‘do something’ about this situation.

Had you been verily keen on that idea, you would have acted upon it.

Stopping your own lies and facing the truth is hard. It’s tough. It’s inconceivably painful to rob yourself of your mental image of a self-righteous, not-entirely-bad-person of yourself.

But it’s a small price for winning back your life. It’s like violently tearing out a patch — it hurts, but only for a few moments. However, if you try to peel the patch away millimeter by millimeter, the pain lingers and usually makes you stop altogether.

All goal-setting techniques in the world will not help you if you cheat yourself that you will take action “someday.” Now is the only time to act.

Thus, I urge you to start a self-analysis habit, or a few of them. Journal, meditate, force your imagination to exercise future alternatives or play in your mind past scenarios and write down what they say about you.

Set priorities on paper and track them on paper. That way, you will quickly detect a discrepancy between your words and deeds. You cannot lie to yourself and keep your sanity when you see proof of your self-dishonesty.

Commit to your actions. Make a bet with your best friend. If you don’t follow your declarations, you obligate yourself to do something really unpleasant or pay your friend an insanely huge amount of money (like 80% of your savings).

By the way, don’t try to change all by yourself. Find support: a mentor, accountability partners and/or a mastermind. Join online communities. Start following on social media a few people you admire and want to be like.

If you need more convincing about being ruthlessly honest with yourself, here is my blog post. (Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart!)

This article was originally published on Quora.