Canadian Lawyer

May 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 53 FEATURES MOTIVATION Ayetkin Tank offers three foolproof ways to get things done without relying on motivation I'M NOT highly motivated. I don't have amazing willpower or self-control. I don't get up at 6 a.m. to read, meditate, drink a green smoothie and run a 10K. That's because I don't believe in motiva- tion. Instead, I've built systems and habits that remove my internal drive from the equa- tion. So, whether or not I feel 'motivated,' I can still be productive. I realize that systems and habits are not a glamorous topic, but honestly, they work. They've fuelled every step of my entrepre- neurial journey over the last 12 years. If you create reliable systems and continue to improve these systems (instead of your willpower), you don't even have to think about motivation. Let's break it down a little. First, what the Why you don't need motivation to succeed heck is motivation, anyway? In the simplest terms, motivation is your desire to do some- thing. It's a sense of willingness that exists on a spectrum, from zero interest to a burning desire to take action. When your desire is strong, motivation feels effortless. But when you're struggling, just about anything sounds better than starting the assignment, making a tough phone call or hitting the gym. Procrastination takes over — until the agony becomes overwhelming. As Steven Pressfield writes in The War of Art, "At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it." I love this quote because I suspect we've all felt this painful moment — when it's harder to stay on the couch than to get up, put on your sneakers and go outside. In his 2011 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, author Daniel Pink splits motivation into two different types: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is external. It's money or praise or trying not to look clumsy on the tennis court. Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It's the desire to act, even when the only reward is the activity itself (or completing a task). Intrinsic motivation implies that you're acting for authentic, honourable reasons. For example, you start a business to help people or solve a problem, not because you're dazzled by visions of fame and fortune. Motivation gets in the way, though, when we rely too heavily on it. No matter how much you love your business, there are prob- ably moments when you don't want to take action. Maybe it feels scary or impossible or the task at hand is downright boring. That's when systems can do the heavy lifting. Here are a few strategies that have helped me to build sustainable systems so I don't have to rely on motivation. Choose your focus areas – and ignore the rest Focus and motivation might seem like two different topics, but they are closely intertwined. For example, last year I had three work priorities: hiring really great people, creating quality content and equipping our users to work more product- ively. These themes informed everything I did. If a project or an opportunity didn't fit into one of these three buckets, I said no. Distractions slipped away, and I could make real progress. For example, I spend the first two hours of every workday writing out my thoughts. It might be a problem I'm trying to solve or a new idea. I don't book meetings during

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