6 Motivation Myths in times of Lockdown or Lethargy

During the current global health pandemic, there’s been alot of talk about how to stay motivated when you’re stuck at home but you still need to get things done, whether that’s working or spending more time with your kids, doing chores around the home or whatever it is for you.  So here are some well worn myths that will take away all your excuses not to get to whatever it is your meant to be doing!  If you want to stay on the sofa, don’t read this!

Motivation Myth #1: We need rewards or incentives to be motivated

The idea that we need external factors such as incentives or rewards to motivate us is one of the most common motivation myths.

Take the example of sales teams who get offered incentives to boost their performance and make them go that extra mile. But if it really was the incentive or reward that was driving a person’s motivation and excellence, then all sales people would feel motivated and inspired to do their best work when given incentives, but that’s not what happens. You’ll find three distinct types of responses.

Some people will tell yout the incentive motivates them to excel, some will be indifferent to it and it will have no bearing on how they perform, and the third group will believe it’s actually de-motivating.

And it’s the same in any performance area where rewards and incentives are created. You’ll always find a range of different responses to the same set of external circumstances because our motivation comes from within and is generated by how we think about the situation at hand, which is why we can all respond very differently to the same set of external circumstances.

Motivation Myth #2: Motivation is at the mercy of external factors

We live in a world where we believe our motivation or happiness is at the mercy of outside factors. People will say that they’ve lost their motivation or that their to-do list is ‘stressing them out’ but it’s not possible for a list or even a workload to stress someone out. It is only ever our thoughts about the list or workload that gives us feelings that we might describe as stressful. Thought creates our motivation and also reduces it.

Let’s take someone in a very busy work environment who feels that they’re not coping well. The common belief is ‘If the workload reduces, I won’t feel so overwhelmed’ or ‘I’ll get my motivation back’. Well maybe that would happen but there are also people who have a smaller workload or an easier situation and are still getting overwhelmed. So what accounts for the difference?

The answer is simpler than we realise. Whilst we’re taught to believe that a change in workload will make us feel better, what really happens is that we have a change of thinking about the workload and this gives us a different feeling and increased perspective. And it’s this fresh perspective which helps us to manage our work and increase motivation. It’s also true that in some cases, the workload may be too much. In this situation, having perspective is the greatest way to motivate clearer thinking so you can handle anything more effectively.

Motivation Myth #3: Setbacks cause de-motivation and discouragement

We all experience setbacks, difficulties or disappointments from time to time. For many of us, it will seem as though the setback itself is the cause of how we are feeling. How often do you hear people justify their mood or feelings with ‘because this happened’ or ‘because they did this to me’.

But if it really were the situation that could make a person think and feel a particular way, why doesn’t everybody get down or disillusioned when they have similar setbacks? Instead, we find that some people thrive and rise to the challenge whilst others want to hide away in a cave for a week.

You can probably notice a theme emerging! Every day we are being shown the truth of how motivation works. For example, how is it that we can get just as activated about a trivial thing as we do about the big important things?

While if often seems like the situation is governing your state of mind, it’s actually your state of mind that is shaping how you experience the situation.

It’s helpful to remember that in any moment, you are always experiencing your own thinking coming to life inside of you in the form of a feeling or emotion and this gets projected out into the world, just like a projector illuminates the image on a screen.

It’s this inner world of thought and feeling that creates a particular state of mind creating the lens through which you perceive life. It’s these moment to moment perceptions that are really shaping what you do.


Motivation Myth #4: Some people are just not motivated

The truth is that human beings have a natural unlimited source of motivation within them. So you could say that we are born motivated. Motivation is the impetus, will and energy to take action, to perform certain behaviours, to move through life.

The question is, what is motivating you right now? What inspires you to make the best decisions and choices and do those things that really matter? As I explain in my book, motivation is self-regulated – it doesn’t come from external factors. We just think it does! For example, there might be days when you wake up in the morning and you feel invincible, you want to jump out of bed and grab life by the horns and yet on other days you’d be quite happy to stay in bed and do nothing all day.

If you ask people the reason for their motivation changing, they’d probably give you a whole bunch of reasons. They might say ‘oh it’s dark out’ or ‘I didn’t get a good night’s sleep’, but in reality it’s got nothing to do with the external factors of our lives. It can only come from one place, which is how the power of thought is playing out through our minds in any given moment.

We often think we need to feel a particular feeling before we can take action – for example ‘I need to feel motivated before I can go to the gym’, or ‘I’ve got to feel confident before I can make that phone call’. This is a classic thought trap.

If you ask experienced actors or comedians if they still feel nervous or anxious before going on stage, many will tell you they do. If they waited for their nerves to subside they’d probably never get on stage.

We can spend our whole lives waiting and believing that ‘I’m not ready’. Yet many of the most successful and inspiring people who make things happen in the world don’t let their feelings hold them back. They are not waiting for some perfect moment or some particular feeling.

My friend once told me that if she waited to feel motivated, she’d never go to the gym on a Saturday morning. She isn’t waiting to ‘feel motivated’ to get out of bed. She just makes a choice to go running and she does it. Her actions aren’t based on a temporary state of mind. They are based on her intentions to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

What are your intentions? What are you inspired and called to create?

Motivation Myth #6: It’s all about positive thinking

Being motivated and inspired is not about forcing ourselves to think more positively. You don’t need to trick yourself into being motivated. You just have to see what is getting in the way.

If we think that something other than thought in each moment can make us feel a particular way, then it’s going to give us plenty to think about and manage. Yet when you realise that how you think and feel is not governed by other people or situations, it will free your mind and motivation or inspiration will show up without any help.

It’s really helpful to realise that any state of mind is like the weather. It’s just a temporary experience of your own thoughts and feelings.

In summary – feeling motivated is instantly available to you when you recognise what gets in the way

The key to being getting sh*t done is to understand what gets in the way of that! And all that gets in the way is a simple yet widespread misunderstanding about where our motivation and all feelings are coming from in any given moment.

It’s how we think motivation works that determines our experience of it. And this is really good news because it means that it’s far easier to get motivated than we realise.

(If you like this and want more, try my bestselling book Instant Motivation – click here to get your copy).

Authentic Leadership Online Summit Interview

In March 2017, I was interviewed by the lovely Judi Glover as part of an expert panel regarding Authentic Leadership.

We talked about some of the following;

  • What authentic leadership really means
  • The biggest misunderstanding in the personal development world 
  • How we can bring the best version of ourselves to our lives and our relationships without complex strategies or ‘mind tricks’.
  • Recognising the difference between fact and fiction and why that matters as leaders
  • Why we don’t have to work on ourselves in order to experience clear thinking or get perspective on the things that matter to us
  • The ONE thing that we need to know in order to truly get out of our own way

FREE YOUR MIND #5 – The ultimate question and the ultimate barrier to success

We all tend to have something we want to change in our lives.

For some it’s re-connecting with passions and hobbies, For others it’s spending more quality time with those people we care about or accomplishing a long held ambition.

The great news is that there is only ONE true barrier to pursuing our dreams or making the changes we need to make.

Here’s a question that I asked a group of 160 business leaders at a conference a few months ago;

If you knew (truly deeply knew) that you will always be safe and secure no matter what happens and regardless of any particular circumstances or situations, what would that mean for you as you go about your life?  How would knowing this (as a fact) make a difference for you in how you live your life?

FREE YOUR MIND #4 – Achievement isn’t what you think it is

Gratitude, compassion and clarity are not accomplishments. But you could easily think they are when you read books, blogs and articles or listen to podcasts.

For example, I often hear people say that compassion is a skill we have to learn and that gratitude is a feeling we have to practise and cultivate.
But the truth is that these feelings are natural human qualities that arise effortlessly when our minds are free and unburdened.

Surely it’s not that easy I hear you ask! Some people are impossible to work with right?  Some situations surely require the patience of a saint.

Business Growth Summit talk by Chantal Burns

Towards the end of 2016,  I did a talk for 160 leaders for the Business Growth Summit conference. 

Here are some of things I reveal in this 45 minute talk below;

  • Some key findings from my groundbreaking ‘state of mind’ research
  • Why we are in the dark ages when it comes to understanding what drives leadership
  • How all the essential qualities of great leadership are not skills and therefore do not need to be acquired or learnt  
  • why being unhappy at work is like being afraid of bridges

I hope you enjoy it – let me know what you think.



Last week, Suzanne Redford and her co-host Jo McKibben interviewed  me about my book Instant Motivation on their radio show, Voices of Diversity on Dubai Eye radio.  I really enjoyed our conversation. We really delved into the nature of motivation and thought in our lives in terms of wellbeing and performance at work.

You can listen to the podcast here.


Want to feel instantly happier at work? Wish that people would stop being so irritating? Fed up of putting on your ‘game face’?

There are thousands of books dedicated to showing us how to be happy or fulfilled. But what if our obsession with happiness is what stops us from feeling happy? What if there’s a much easier way to feel great and do our best work?  click here to read the full article 


On the 2nd of January 2015 my book ‘Instant Motivation’ was published and I was thrilled when it was selected as WHSmith’s Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Then last week, after interviewing me about the book, The Irish Times published a piece in their Business Innovation section and I was glad to read the following:-

The market for self-help books aimed at those wishing to improve their performance and motivation at work is a crowded one. Those looking for quick-fix techniques are likely to be disappointed by one of the latest contributions to this genre by UK author Chantal Burns.

Click here to read the full article.  And I would love to know what you think so please post your comments below.


People often hunger for new and unfamiliar experiences.

Some of  us get bored easily and crave exciting or different things. We say we want more variety or we describe ourselves as having a low boredom threshold. But in truth, the experience of new that most people crave or desire is a feeling and all feelings come from the same place – from our own thinking and the perceptions that thought creates.

Thoughts of boredom create feelings of boredom.  Thoughts of wonder, create feelings of wonder.

And whilst it seems like it’s the situation (something ‘out there’) creating our thoughts and feelings of boredom, it never is because it doesn’t work that way.

I remember standing looking up at the beautiful and imposing sight of my local Abbey. I’ve admired this building many times. What was unusual on this particular day was that I felt I was seeing it for the first time. I had a sense of wonder and awe.

In that moment by the Abbey, I realised with absolute clarity how we are always creating the experience of new via our own minds, which means we are also creating the experience of old in the same way. And this has some fantastically helpful implications – especially if you’re a ‘new’ junky. Here are a few of them…

1) If the experience of ‘boring’ is purely a matter of perception and perspective, this means that something you’ve been perceiving as stale or boring can become fresh and interesting in a heartbeat. This includes your partner, colleagues, job or hobbies.

Just noticing how your own thinking is the architect of your perceptions and perspective, is enough to land you into the present moment. In the present moment, there is no old or new because old and new are constructs. We make them up. That’s why you can feel bored in a situation that you’ve never encountered before and feel excited or interested in a situation you’ve encountered many times.

For example, have you ever watched the same film many times or read the same book more than once and still enjoyed it? Or perhaps you’ve visited the same place more than once and still found it fresh and exciting?

2) Things you may have written off as ‘past their sell by date’ may actually have plenty of life left in them after all. This includes your own ideas, a job, hobbies, places or people. There is always the potential to see something with new eyes or hear with new ears.

3) We can choose to give up the sometimes relentless and often exhausting pursuit of the next new and exciting thing. Instead, you can continue to enjoy what you have right now. Every moment is fresh and new – only our thinking makes it old.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek a thrill or try new things. I’m as partial to wanting new and exciting experiences as the next person. I’m just offering an alternative way to understand where the experience and feelings of new really comes from, so that you can have more of that feeling NOW without having to do anything different – i.e.,without changing your partner, job, furniture or hobbies.

Now wouldn’t that be a new experience?!


I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to have peace of mind and feel content within themselves.

Many books and teachings will have us believe that peace of mind or contentment are something we must strive for – that they are somehow the result of doing and achieving.

They are portrayed as rewards for accomplishing results in the world.

We grow up being taught that feelings like contentment, peace of mind and happiness are outside of us.

For many years, I believed that doing well at work, being successful and being a nice person would bring me contentment and peace of mind.

Every time I set my goals, I innocently attached my happiness and self worth to my achievement of them.

I subsequently spent years wondering why I never felt quite ’good enough’ or ’happy enough’. And for many years, I tried various personal development approaches to help me find that elusive ‘inner peace’ and contentment and then a few years ago, I had the realisation that all the feelings we yearn for, are much closer than we think.

Peace of mind isn’t a by-product of adding, achieving or accomplishing anything. It’s a process of deleting, of reducing the noise, of taking away what gets in the way and ignoring what isn’t relevant. And what gets in the way is our own thinking.

Contentment with ourselves and with life, is what’s already there inside you when you stop thinking that you’re not enough or that you need to be more, have more or achieve more.

Peace of mind is what’s always there behind those thoughts of inadequacy and self doubt.

The ability to feel peaceful, happy or content is effortless. It’s simply a matter of seeing all the thinking we engage with and the ideas about ourselves that we’ve innocently been holding on to that keep us from feeling great and enjoying life unconditionally.

And the best thing is that we don’t have to engage with our conditioned and habitual ways of thinking. We don’t have to listen to the insecurity and self doubt. It’s just passing weather and behind it is pure blue sky. That blue sky is your natural wellbeing and whilst we are constantly being told otherwise, it isn’t dependent on any accomplishments or achievements. It travels with you and it provides everything you need to achieve optimal success and fulfilment at work and at home.