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Why Motivation Doesn't Last And What To Do Instead

Do you know why most information is given away for free? Because it’s meaningless.


You could optimize your workload, but you (most likely) won’t. You could start following a diet and workout routine you saw on IG, but you (probably) won’t. You could wake up a changed person tomorrow, but you won’t.


The online world is overflowing with info on how to do pretty much anything short of surgery, but people are still fat, business-less (I’m inventing words now) and unhappy.

So why is it so hard to change?


Who is you?

If we were to picture what we call me on a diagram it’d look something like this



  • Me (Self-concept - the story you tell yourself about who you are)
  • State (Familiar emotional patterns/states which ingrain themselves in our brains in the form of neural pathways)
  • Action (Automatic behaviours, habits - things we do regularly without much thought)


These are in a constant feedback loop, forming a continuous cycle. For instance, seeing yourself as a runner influences your daily activities, impacts your feelings and strengthens your identity as a runner.

Likewise, experiencing depression affects your behaviour, leading to decreased activity and contributing to a negative self-perception.


Even simple actions, like listening to music, can change your emotional state, making you feel more motivated, such as when music energizes you at the gym.

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There’s something in the middle of this, keeping it all together. It’s called the Black Hole.




The Black Hole is an unconscious phenomenon, representing our brain's tendency to favour familiar patterns and resist change.


Kind of like neural inertia—our brains optimise for energy efficiency, which often manifests as a resistance to altering established behaviours and thought patterns. So whenever you attempt to change, this Black Hole pulls you back to familiar ways of being. Even on a biological level, the cost of change is too high.

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Your usual thoughts, feelings, and actions, held together by the Black Hole, make up the comfort zone. It's a space of habitual patterns where we feel at ease because it's what we’re familiar with, even if we don’t like it.

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When we engage in self-development, be it therapy, reading a book, coaching, meditation - anything new that activates the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity, we temporarily step outside our comfort zone. It’s exhilarating at first—motivation surges and we feel primed for change. There’s a sense of progress.


However, the outside of the comfort zone is still under the influence of the Black Hole (whose sole job is to keep the status quo), so it draws us back into old patterns. Essentially, the established neural pathways are more robust than your desire to change. That’s when we experience a loss of motivation.


That’s why:

  • Any immediate change coaches promise is BS - run away as fast as you can.
  • Motivational speakers and YouTube videos don’t work.
  • Reading books doesn’t work either.


Consistent small action > consistent information gathering is the only thing that works.


How to change?

Real transformation lies beyond the familiar and in a place where we've completely disentangled from the pull of our old self. Achieving this breakthrough requires more than just stepping out—it requires DISCIPLINE.


Namely, being disciplined over a long period of time to gather enough momentum to escape the Black Hole.




Breakthrough or real change lives outside of the outside of your comfort zone

  1. Discipline and commitment equals freedom.
  2. Long-term mindset over short-term hopes.
  3. Pick a lane and stay on it. ← this is the most underappreciated


Discipline and commitment are what carry you through when motivation dissipates. Select one aspect of your life you’d like to change and a single strategy (CBT, for example) for improving it, then commit to this approach consistently for at least six months.


Avoid jumping from one method to another, chasing new mentors or that next life-changing book you saw on Instagram. For real, lasting change, give it at least six months. The common 90-day advice doesn’t cut it, in my opinion. It leaves us too close to the edge of our comfort zone, not far enough from the Black Hole to lose its grip on us.


You can begin by picking one element within the loop to work on, since these elements—how you view yourself, your emotional state and your actions—are interconnected, altering one aspect will lead to changes in the others.


TL;DR

  • Gathering information is an ineffective strategy for change, action is.
  • The way to change is to garner enough velocity to break through the outside of your comfort zone to escape the pull of the Black Hole.
  • Avoid quick fixes. Choose one life area, one improvement method and focus on one part of the feedback loop. Commit for at least six months.


The above applies to any area of your life, not just self-development.


Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash