Have you ever tried to motivate yourself to take action? … What happened?  If you are typical, the motivation might have worked for a short time, but probably didn’t last and didn’t work in the long run.  Did you then ask yourself: What’s wrong with me?  Why am I unable to motivate myself to do the things I really want to do?

MotivateI’d like to present a heretical notion about motivation: It’s not your fault if you are unable to motivate yourself.  Motivation is a spurious concept, because it actually cannot work in the long run.


What is motivation?

First, let’s define motivation.  Here are three definitions I found on the Internet:

  1. Providing with a reason to act in a certain way.
  2. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
  3. Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge.

To begin with, the primary source of what people do and don’t do is their beliefs, not “reasons,” whether given by themselves or others.  Moreover, the “process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors,” is beliefs, not anything we say to ourselves or others say to us.  Finally, motivation is not the process that “causes us to act”; our beliefs are the primary cause of our behavior.

In the long run people cannot be motivated by others (or even by themselves) to do anything using the promise of reward or the threat of punishment.  If you want to do something and the necessary behavior is consistent with your beliefs, no motivation is necessary.  You will do it naturally.  If what you want to do (or what others want you to do) is inconsistent with your beliefs, your beliefs will trump your motivation in the long run.

If you have any questions about the impotence of motivation to drive behavior consider the tens of thousands of people who are told by doctors annually that they will die if they don’t start exercising, change their eating habits, stop smoking, etc.—and who make no changes at all in their behavior.  Almost all of these people want to live and don’t want to die, and yet those reasons do not “motivate” a huge percentage of them to take the action necessary to live.

How to get yourself to do what you need or want to do

If you aren’t doing with you want to do, don’t try to motivate yourself.  In such situations you will usually notice anxiety just preceding the need to take action, which is what prevents you from taking action.  So the real question is: What do you believe that would cause you to feel anxious about taking action?

Some of the most common beliefs causing this anxiety include, mistakes and failure are bad, if I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected, what makes me good enough and important is doing things perfectly, what makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me, and many of the core self-esteem beliefs, such as I’m not good enough, I’m inadequate, I’m not capable, and I’m not competent.

These are the beliefs that cause the anxiety that frequently stops us from taking action.  Yes, with sufficient will power you can do anything in the short run.

But if you have beliefs like these, “motivation” (in other words, reasons for acting, be they threats or promises) rarely will be sufficient to overcome them in the long run.  On the other hand, if you eliminate the beliefs that prevent action, motivation will be unnecessary.

Banish your frustration and disappointments

It really is possible to be what you want to be, do what you want to do, and have what you want to have.  Life does not have to be a series of frustrations and disappointments.  The tools exist to remove your barriers to true happiness and satisfaction.   Don’t try to motivate yourself.  Use the tools I’ve told you about and create the life you’ve always wanted.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Please share below your thoughts and questions on the role of motivation in human behavior and the possibility of having the life you’ve always wanted.  Your comments will add value for thousands of readers.  I read them all and respond to as many as I can.

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If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to http://www.recreateyourlife.com where you can eliminate one limiting belief free.

Copyright © 2013 Morty Lefkoe

Use this information to improve your life

The next time you notice yourself avoiding doing something you want or need to do, don’t waste time by trying to motivate yourself.  Instead, see if you can get in touch with the anxiety you are probably feeling that is the source of your failure to act.  Then ask yourself: What do I believe that is the source of the fear?

The best way to identify the beliefs is to notice the thoughts that accompany the anxiety.  They are the best clues to the beliefs, which are the source of the anxiety.

When you eliminate those beliefs, notice that the anxiety is gone. And when it goes you will notice how easy it is to be, do, and have what you’ve always wanted.  Without needing any motivation.



  1. Sue April 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Should have said “upcoming parents” – just so you know.

  2. Sue April 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    So, Morty, your blogs and info are always top on! Now, when are you going to create a “parenting” course and/or group so upcoming individuals won’t have to make the same mistakes that I made and that my daughter was making? Looking forward to reading and hearing more from you. Also, I read and put into practice (as well as I can – getting better with more practice) what you share. Thank you.

    • Morty Lefkoe April 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Sue,

      My wife Shelly who is a certified Lefkoe Method facilitator has created an incredible parenting course. Check out her material at http://parentingthelefkoeway.com.

      Love, Morty

  3. rima March 19, 2013 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    Thanks for the post, it’s really interesting, and I can confirm really see it from my own behavior.
    When I am motivated about something, it becomes “personal”, then I lose all motivation about it. for example when someone tells me about his problem (anything, project, searching for solutions about anything, research things, I am in the operations research department of a university), asks me something, it’s easy for me to provide solutions, help, and I could work without stopping until I find the solution. But when it comes to preparing my papers, my work, I can’t help procrastinating, having head aches and lose motivation about it. I thought because I didn’t work on something I liked (lack of passion), but it’s not the answer, it is not about motivation or passion, it’s about seeing objectively things. When they are not personal, I can see them objectively(and easy for me to try to find solutions), but as long as they become personal, I lose any objectivity about them, I turn hating them and not wanting them anymore (talking about my projects, especially professional and scientific projects).
    I know now (thanks to you) that my beliefs are the real problem, and I have to work on them.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Mitch August 9, 2013 at 8:44 am - Reply

      I feel the same way. I have to put together a presentation for work, that I will have to present in two weeks. I really cant get myself to start. I cant figure out what is holding me back. I am even being judged by a panel on how I present and that doesn’t even motivate me. Could it be because I have the belief “Work shouldn’t be so difficult” or “I am not being paid enough to do this” or “It is a lot of work to put a presentation together”. I have eliminated most of the 19 core beliefs so what could this be?

  4. Lindy February 11, 2013 at 6:02 am - Reply

    Hi Morty
    It is so true that motivation doesn’t work. I’ve been trying to motivate myself to get an important job done (that I don’t want to do) but the consequences of not doing it are escalating, but I can’t seem to force myself to do it, and it’s just not happening. Yet…
    I’ve been approaching it from “Why don’t I want to do it? What do I need to have happen first, in order to feel comfortable and safe and get it done easily?” That seems to be working out well – it’s great to give myself permission to set those things up that I’ve been needing for years. It’s a bit of a slow way round, but I believe it will happen in time, “in order and with ease.”
    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  5. Irma February 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Absolutely nailed most issues; however, the one issue you missed is that most people have anxieties about motivating themselves to accomplish certain tasks (etc.) because what they are focusing on does not bring joy. For example, I have worked since I was 16 and now, at 59, every job I have had is going against my grain. I work because I am a responsible individual and have always taken care of myself financially, as well as supported my daughter (as a single mom). Unfortunately, I am one of many who work because it is necessary. I never found my purpose. As I am aging, my anxieties worsen because I HATE what I do for a living. I get nothing out of it and the older I get, the drudgery is intensifying. This daily grief spills over into all other chores, responsibilities and (now) even extra-curricular activities. My motivation has become defined as “can I make it through another day”! If you took a poll, I bet more people feel like this than you could ever imagine. Sad, don’t you think?!

    • Linda February 16, 2013 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      Irma just wanted to let you know that you are right, you are not the only one that feels this way. The only difference between you and me is 4 years.

    • Julie L June 5, 2013 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Irma, this is EXACTLY how I feel. Exactly. I feel i have so much potential if i were to have discovered “my purpose”. And now i feel precisely this. I feel like no matter what i am doing it isnt what i SHOULD be doing, but i do it every day to feed myself. And it’s like “just another day” Sigh!

    • Heather October 17, 2016 at 5:56 pm - Reply

      Amen, I am in my mid 30’s with 2 young kids and had all the OCD motivation in the world. When I had to quit my very good job to let my husband prosper in his new position, practically home schooled my sick child while I was sick as well, I fell into a black hole of disappointment, resentfulness, sadness and so much more realizing that it is me. I’m dissatisfied with myself and can’t pull it together because of knowing I’m tied down to everyone in this house and can not create the life I’ve waited for myself. I’ve always been independent and felt worthy of my accomplishments but no more… It seems like everyone/everything is falling in this mode as well. Its very scary and unreal that I’ve become my own worst nightmare. God has his reasons and I thank him for me being able to stay home and take care of everyone else but that’s becoming scarce in itself these days. Thank you for posting my thoughts just in a different aspect. To feeling normal again in time.

  6. asaf February 9, 2013 at 1:21 am - Reply

    Hi Morty
    In the book think and grow rich Napoleon Hill say
    that if you want to achieve something you need to create
    a burning desire and than you(and your subconcious) will find the way
    to achieve it. you cant know what belief stands between you and your
    objective in my opinion.
    Nice Day

  7. kk February 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    I have always felt that I didn’t need little games or rewards to make me do something I already wanted to do. You see it in the business world all the time – do this & you will win this. It never did motivate me & people will get so dissappointed in you for not grabbing the bait & tell you that you need to do that to be motivated. Thank you for your work. You’ve helped me on my self-worth, self-esteem projects.

  8. sachi February 8, 2013 at 11:10 am - Reply

    It is hard for me to find the “motivation” to start watching your series. I’ve watched one of the free samples and it worked like charm. Now I am facing my fears of changing- which I cannot even understand; why should someone be afraid of being better? So, it is nearly impossible for me to watch another video of yours… Not sure what to do.

    • Yuri February 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Wait until you get more comfortable with the idea of using The Lefkoe Method for other beliefs. That’s what helped me eventualy – I was moving very slowly with this process, like only letting myself eliminate some new beliefs once a week. Of course I have tried to do it every day – but I have always found some reasons to avoid it. And with this slow progress it took me about few months to eliminate virtualy all the beliefs I had. And now I feel fantastic! So give yourself time – let your subconsiousness get ready for it step by step.

      Note that I was eliminating my beliefs in batches – writing down from 10 to 20 beliefs concerning the same problem and treating them as one belief to process unsing TLM.

  9. TG February 8, 2013 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    Like many of your posts, this one is very timely. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

    My question is this: If I’ve eliminated the general belief “I’m not good enough,” could there be any benefit to eliminating the same belief related to what I want to do? For instance, I’m an attorney, and I still get anxious when thinking of presenting in court. This causes me to procrastinate on occasion. I’ve already eliminated the “I’m not good enough” belief from most of my life. Would it be beneficial to rephrase the belief as “I’m not good enough to present in court” and eliminate this particular strain, so to speak?


  10. Dean February 8, 2013 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Excellent post morty. I never thought of problems with sustaining motivation like you described. I’m looking forward to using this idea.


  11. James February 8, 2013 at 3:14 am - Reply

    Thank you for the guidance and the importance of countering anxiety to support motivation to do what I want to do. I can see that I would rather live with self confidence than anxiety with regard to important life tasks or goals. I wondered how this fit with other related issues – such as representing values that you are moving away from in NLP or attentional bias towards threat in anxious people in experimental and clinical psychology. It seems that people do have a tendency to feel anxious about stimuli that trigger their amygdala to respond but there are still a lot of gaps in my understanding of the attraction of doing something, being convinced its worth doing, deciding to do it, being motivated to continue and being reassured that the effort was worthwhile. It seems that there are a range of factors that influence the outcome (including how feasable it is to carry out the task – Theory of Planned Behaviour) and that anxiety about engaging in a particular behaviour is only part of having the motivation to continue with a difficult task. However, point taken, that if I listen to my anxiety rather than my understanding or self confidence – I might not do many things that carry an element of risk. If happiness depends on that confidence – then its a cause of happiness – and thank you for supporting that. If happiness depends on knowing my limits and being content to play it safe – less bravado – less need to challenge parental controls – less invulnerability – and learn something useful from the anxiety. Confidence protects my happiness or fear protects my happiness – its not always clear.

  12. Randy February 7, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    When I’m trying to eliminate a belief, I say the words of the belief out loud and I feel like it’s true. I say it again but it doesn’t feel true. Or, I’m looking at an event that I think the belief is in but sometimes my mind creates events out of thin air and makes the meaning appear to be there. Sometimes, I’m trying to decide if I saw the belief in an event, I’m seeing it and then I don’t see it.

    What is wrong with my mind ? It’s as if it deliberately tries to contradict itself so I don’t get what I want. Going back and forth.

  13. Randy February 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    Is it possible to have two survival strategies both starting by “The way to survive is to…”

    I think I have : The way to SURVIVE is to avoid conflict, The way to SURVIVE is to only count on myself.

    I also have other belief that cause me to worry about what people think because I want to avoid conflict. Conflict is a scary thing to me.

  14. Venkatesh February 7, 2013 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    There is a very powerful way to dissolve disempowering beliefs.
    It is through the use of sacred sounds which carry cosmic energy.
    These sounds penetrate the subconscious and disintegrate those beliefs.
    Beliefs and thoughts are also sounds, which are non-verbalized.
    You may want to use one such sound revealed by Dr. Pillai.

  15. bruce February 7, 2013 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    I love your method but I wonder if it really help in the long run.
    Why? Because I’ve read that we have thousands of thougts every day.
    Is it possible to notice all the negative thougts that can surface in our mind
    in order to eliminate them? I think that it’s a never-ending run.
    The method would have been very powerful if it dealed with feelings rather
    than thougts.

    • Morty Lefkoe February 7, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Hi Bruce,

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

      People in my Freedom Course discover they give meaning to events 20-40 times a day. As they dissolve the meaning more and more, they start giving meaning less often.

      It is possible to get tot he point where we have relatively few meanings and those we have are dissolved automatically. Because the thoughts cause the feelings, when we stop the meanings, the negative feelings stop also.

      Hundreds of people have been able to do this.

      Love, Morty

      • bruce February 8, 2013 at 1:29 am - Reply

        I’ve done the natural confidence course once. I’ll do the conditioning exercise for some times and see how it goes. Thanks

  16. You can call me Al February 6, 2013 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    You’ve now made it clear that beliefs prevent us from taking action most of the time, not lack of motivation.
    It’s great to know that we really don’t have to motivate ourselves to do anything, if we learn to control our own mind.
    Thank you for sharing another great post :-)

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