Motivation is only part of the equation. We all love motivational stuff.

We read motivational books. We listen to motivational podcasts. Hell, I write motivational books and record motivational podcasts.

The truth, however, is motivation alone will never be enough to accomplish your goals.

The reason is simple. Motivation doesn’t itself produce or nurture good habits — those bricks with which we build the foundation of success. Motivation doesn’t illuminate the best way to practice, and it doesn’t give us the logistical tools we need to perform excellently in high-pressure situations. That’s why we forget motivational quotes just days after we read them.

What you really need even more than motivation is a commitment to self-education.

A commitment, in other words, to bettering yourself — and more specifically, to identifying your bad habits, determining the best way to go about ameliorating them, and then enlisting tools and support to help you do that.

This is what the world’s smartest and most accomplished people — from Bill Gates to Barack Obama — are always doing.

They’re always reading, always teaching themselves new things. They’re always investing in ways to acquire new skills. And they’re always working to correct what bad habits may be holding them back.

Committing to this kind of self-education ultimately amounts to holding yourself accountable.

Generally, accomplished people also have a habit of holding themselves accountable. Part of the reason for that is because truly committing to bettering yourself and educating yourself requires accountability.

But there are also more tangible ways self-education forces you to be more accountable. Consider, for example, how much more inspired we generally are to stick with an online course that we’ve paid for, or to keep attending that night school class for which we’ve sacrificed both money and hours of our time.

Committing to self-education, in this sense, really increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with something — whether it’s a class or a goal to lose 20 pounds.

Ultimately, this can have tons of positive effects.

For example, the more educated you are, the more you pay attention.

When you’re aware of what areas of your career or profession you’re lacking in, you keep your eyes more purposefully peeled for ways to improve or signs that you’re improving. And when you understand what habits of yours are bad and why, each time you catch yourself doing them, you feel guilty.

And when our actions produce such a physical reaction inside of us, we listen closer. We commit more completely to change.

It’s in this way that investing in self-education creates within us a more holistic commitment to improvement. We equip ourselves with the tools we need to grow, and we encourage new habits which themselves encourage us to keep going.

Success comes from motivation supplemented by tactics and action.

At the end of the day, this is why motivation alone is never enough. Plenty of aspiring actors, athletes, entrepreneurs, and scholars are motivated. But the ones that rise to the top of their respective profession are those who practice correctly, study other great people, and operate with strategic purpose.

The good news is, there are a ton of resources out there and available case studies of those who came before you to help.

You want to get in better shape? Invest in classes and resources to help you eat right and exercise correctly. You want to become a better writer? Read lots of great writing, style books, and invest in a workshop community.

It’s not enough to want to get better. You have to learn and work to improve the right way.

Originally published on Medium.

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