Are motivational videos a sustainable source of success?
Like many of you, I have been on the side where I have spent a lot of time watching motivational videos on loop. They made me feel energised, as if I was ready to accomplish all my goals, except that it never happened. It took a substantial amount of wasted time to realise that these videos are not beneficial for me. Therefore, I crossed to the other side and stopped indulging in such content. Am I suggesting that these videos can sometimes be counterproductive? Yes! Am I suggesting that motivation in itself is of no good? Not at all! Read along to understand better.
The internet is full of motivational videos, stories, and quotes. They can be helpful only if we take the right advice and act upon it. The real problem occurs when our focus, perhaps unintentionally, shifts from implementing the guidance to binge-watching one video after another, only thinking we have been very productive. When we can’t invoke our inner motivation, we try to find external motivators. These videos succeed in giving us a short-lived kick of encouragement to do our tasks.
“You are greater than you think”, “you can’t fit in if you want to stand out”, and “big things happen to those who dream big” — sound familiar, don’t they? We all recognise the feeling these sentences invoke in us. They lift our mood and validate us, which pushes us to watch more and feel even better. Continuously watching them creates an illusion of learning, invoking instant gratification and psychological highs. Therefore, such videos keep us hooked without creating any real value. Ultimately, we end up thinking that this is step one to success. The truth remains: we keep indulging in the videos without taking the actual first step.
Every person has unique characteristics based on which they knit a unique life story. “Get up at 4 am and see how your life will change” — but what if I am a night owl? Will I never be successful? Motivational speakers develop their views based on their individual experiences. Just because it worked for them, it’s not necessary it will work for us too.
Because Steve Jobs could build Apple the way he did, it’s not that everyone will be able to build something equally big just by following the same steps. Skills, thought processes, environment — physical and financial, teams, attitude, luck, and many more factors influence a person’s journey. Without a proper contextual understanding of the speaker, such videos will only feed into the feeling that a fail-proof plan to success is to replicate someone’s journey to success.
Success gurus would often say, “never give up”, “don’t stop trying”, “give it your all”, which is all true but such oversimplification of problems does not account for the complex challenges and circumstances that a person faces. They often promote the idea that success is easily achievable by hard work. They often do not consider any other factor needed for success, especially time, luck, or the plethora of challenges one might face in their journey to success. This makes us set unrealistic expectations for ourselves.
We get fixated on the shiny end result, and every small problem appears to be a huge inconvenience. One roadblock comes our way and we end up feeling frustrated and inadequate. All this is because though we’re putting in the hard work, we haven’t been able to quickly reach the level of success that’s talked about in the videos. Milestones are as important as the final destination of success. We will have to earn 1,000 bucks before 10,000 before finally earning 100,000. Do not forget that our small wins ultimately make a big success.
Motivational videos sometimes also rely on shallow and easy-to-follow messages, like the ones mentioned above. They will always say, “be determined and motivated” but they will hardly talk about how to recognise if one is genuinely low on motivation and how to recognise the root cause of it, let alone how to rectify the issue. Motivation can’t be lastingly induced by just listening to someone. It is a multi-faceted concept depending upon various internal and external factors, such as interests, beliefs, value systems, goals, and suitable environments. I don’t reckon these videos factor these in. Hence, they fail to keep people motivated for long spans.
The messages are good to go for quick inspiration but are not going to fetch results in the long run. To be successful in the long run, we need sustainable habits, strategies, and plans. These things should keep us motivated, not a 10-minute-long YouTube video. We cannot keep watching them for five or 10 years, can we? People are the most motivated when they genuinely believe in their ideas and have a sense of relatedness and competence.
While it’s possible that the motivation videos give you motivation, there is nothing better to reach your destination of success than having an intrinsic attachment to your goals. If you are someone who has immense passion and attachment to your goals, motivation will always flow from within and you will not have to seek it from an external source.
Motivation is an important feeling. We need to have a certain level of it to start something new and to take that first step towards our goals. But it should come from within, and we should not rely on other speakers for it. In one of the articles for New York magazine The Cut, the famous author Melissa Dahl rightly said, “The only motivational advice anyone has ever needed: you don’t have to feel like getting it done to get it done.”
Focus on sustainable strategies, find mentors, and continuously work on personal growth, even on days you don’t feel like it. When the focus is on these things, internal motivation will automatically step up its game and you won’t have to rely on external motivators. To set achievable goals and a plan of action is no secret. We all know our strong traits and weaknesses. Also, we know what we want from life and what our skill set is. We need to use all this knowledge and start the journey to success. There will never be a perfect time. Now is the best time to get-set-go. Let’s formulate our own formula for success. When we truly put our hearts and minds into it, magic happens!