David Strittmatter

Become outstanding – learn to work when work isn’t easy

What comes easy won’t last. What lasts won’t come easy


  • Outstanding people deliberately progress & are as consistent as possible
  • You cannot be great at something unless you love the process
  • It’s about the journey, not the destination

Practical advice:

  • Work in sprints & kill any distraction
  • Properly satisfy basic needs: Hunger, thirst, rest, and sleep
  • Create external motivators for yourself to sustain short-term lacks of motivation

Dear friend,

When I was in high school, I loved studying most for the subjects in which I achieved the best grades.

When I run faster than usual, I’m thrilled and don’t want to wait for the next run.

When I delivered great results, I was substantially more motivated to work.

Getting good results propels us forward. But what about when we don’t achieve our targets? What about when work isn’t easy? Or when you lose motivation because of dullness?

In today’s article, I want to contemplate the importance of self-motivation, discuss why it’s vital to fall in love with the process, and share my toolkit for pushing oneself forward when work isn’t easy.

High-achieving professionals

Some people achieve outstanding results for a simple reason: They’re great at something. And because they’re great at it, they do it better than anyone else. They stand out. It might be a skill, an approach, whatever, but they stick to it and it pays off. They improved their special skill and thus got better than most other people by deliberately progressing and being as consistent as possible.

Motivation is elusive. Some days you feel it, and on other days you don’t – no matter how hard you try. High-achievers, though, keep pushing onwards, even when they don’t feel like it and their motivation is at rock bottom. The ability to sustain deep levels of motivation and retain consistency is what distinguishes the winner from the loser.

Fall in love with the process

Goals are great, but you cannot be great at something unless you love the process. Here are some examples that I read on James Clear’s blog and illustrate this notion:

  • If you want to be a great writer, then having a best-selling book is wonderful. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of writing.
  • If you want to become significantly better at anything, you have to fall in love with the process of doing it. You have to fall in love with building the identity of someone who does the work, rather than merely dreaming about the results that you want.
  • If you want to be in the best shape of your life, then losing 20 pounds might be necessary. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of eating healthy and exercising consistently.
  • If you want the world to know about your business, then it would be great to be featured in Forbes magazine. But the only way to reach that result is to fall in love with the process of marketing.

The easiest way to deal with a lack of motivation and maintain consistency is to fall in love with the process. I will write an extensive blog article on this topic soon. Until then, here are crucial steps to consider and requirements to fulfill:

  • Have a strong why: You need to find purpose in the goal you set yourself
  • Focus on progress and find the right metrics to measure success
  • Adopt the right mindset: It’s about the journey, not the destination

Little hacks to sustain a lack of motivation

Those are some little tricks I make use of to push myself in times of poor motivation:

Work in sprints

I set a timer for 30-50 min. During this time, I do nothing else than focussing on work. 100%. No distractions. After this time frame, I treat myself. I do something completely different for a few minutes (5-10 minutes). And I get some physical activities involved (at least stand up and walk a few steps in my room).

Kill distractions

Productivity induces motivation. When you need to get something done and your motivation is at rock bottom, being unproductive makes the situation even worse. The most significant productivity killer is distractions. Thus, you need to kill any distraction:

  • Turn your smartphone off. Switch it on flight mode. Or at least, install a productivity app, such as Forest
  • Stop multitasking. One task at a time.
  • Reduce external distractions: Close your door when you have a flatmate; don’t have snacks laying around. Don’t listen to music when you have to choose the songs on your own from time to time

Properly satisfy basic needs

When you didn’t sleep, eat, drink, and rest enough, hard or tedious work becomes even worse.

Hence, take care of your body and set the right priorities. You may think sleeping less than 7 hours, skipping that lunch break, or not drinking enough water won’t be that bad – but trust me (or at least the vast amount of empirical research on this topic) – you will suffer, you will be less productive, and your results will be worse.

Treat yourself

Creating external motivators for yourself over the short-to-medium term can help you to sustain onerous tasks. A crucial mistake you need to avoid when you treat yourself is to base your reward on the number of completed tasks or speed when you actually care about the quality of your performance.

Treat yourself based on rather the time you worked on something (let’s say you worked 4 sprints of 40 mins each without letting something distract you) than the pages read in a book. This way allows you to optimize the outcome rather than the input.

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