Book Summary: The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden

The Motivation Myth Book Summary - Jeff Haden

Title: The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

Author: Jeff Haden


The problem with motivation is that many think it’s something that will happen to them – like a jolt that will bolt them out of procrastination and into action. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In The Motivation Myth, author Jeff Haden says the only way to gain motivation is through success. “Specifically, the dopamine hits we get when we observe ourselves making progress.” He’s not referring to major, life-changing success as that happens too infrequently, if ever. Rather, it’s the minor successes we enjoy on a regular basis. (For example; learning a new language and being able to string two sentences together, or practicing yoga and being able to do a handstand after a few months.)

“Small successes are fun— and motivating! That’s why you already have everything you need. That’s why motivation isn’t something you have. Motivation is something you get, from yourself, automatically, from feeling good about achieving small successes,” Haden writes.

Is there a relationship between happiness and motivation? Yes, a clear one Haden argues. A sliver of satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness can be found in the achievement – but the real source of consistent, lasting happiness lies in the process.

The motivation Myth by Jeff Haden book summary

Incredibly successful people set a goal and then focus all their attention on the process necessary to achieve that goal. Instead of focusing on the goal, they focus on what needs to be done today and work at it. Everyday, when they achieve their daily task, they feel proud and enjoy the feeling of success. That sense of accomplishment gives them all the motivation they need to do what they need to do when tomorrow.

Key Quotes:

“You can do – and be – so much more than you think”

“The paths to both happiness and success are one and the same.”

My Reading Notes:

  • Two joys: Momentary joy after achieving a goal OR consistent, lasting happiness lies in the process.
  • Incredibly successful people set a goal and then focus all their attention on the process necessary to achieve that goal. Instead of focusing on the goal, they focus on what needs to be done today and work at it. Everyday, when they achieve their daily task, they feel proud and enjoy the feeling of success. That sense of accomplishment gives them all the motivation they need to do what they need to do when tomorrow.
  • Savor the small wins as part of your daily process towards the end goal. That is where you will find motivation to keep going.
  • To accomplish anything worthwhile, be prepared to work hard. There are no shortcuts. Tremendous effort and dedication are required.
  • Even though you have to put in the long hours, make the process fun. “The paths to both happiness and success are one and the same.”
  • What is motivation? It is not a spark that ignites eagerness to work, but motivation is a result. It’s the pride you feel in great work you’ve already done and it fuels your drive to do more.
  • Real and lasting motivation comes after you start.
  • Motivation isn’t something you get after hearing a powerful speech or reading a book. Motivation isn’t passive, motivation is active. How do you get motivated? Just start.  The key is to enjoy the feeling of success that comes from improving in some small way – and then rinse and repeat, over and over again.
  • You feel motivated because you took action. Motivation is a result, not a precondition. You don’t need motivation to break a sweat. Break a sweat and you’ll feel motivated.

Actionable Items:

  • Key Takeaway: Success → Motivation → More Success → More Motivation → More Success = Becoming
  • So what’s the formula for motivation and happiness? And how can you use this today?
  1. Dream big.
  2. Set a huge goal.
  3. Commit to your huge goal.
  4. Create a process that ensures you can reach your goal.
  5. Then forget about your huge goal and work your process instead.

Enjoyed this Book Summary? Inspired by Bill Gates Notes, together with my personal pursuit of continuous improvement – I’ve started the Book Summaries blog mini-series. Here, I share some nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned along the way.

~ Persist and Grow Forth ~