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  • Writer's pictureSusan Tatum

Results Come From More Than Motivation

Do you feel like you’re just not motivated enough to get things done? Jeremy Hartwell of Peritus Consulting explains why motivation doesn’t equal productivity. He shares 4 important tips to create a framework of systems and structures to help you perform like a top-level athlete in work and in life.

Notes from the Show

At Peritus Consulting, Jeremy Hartwell uses a science-backed and evidence-based methodology to create toolkits to help you perform like a top-level athlete - no matter what you're doing. Today we’re talking about combating challenges that come with productivity in modern life and what it means to create “motivation”.

Many often blame a lack of productivity and lack of accomplishment on a lack of motivation. Jeremy says we often equate and define motivation with willpower. Willpower alone is not enough to get us results, it's more of an emotion, fleeting and unreliable. Where people often go wrong is not understanding the rewards, incentives, systems, and structures that have been set up around them. So when they aren’t present, perhaps in a switch to a work-from-home role or the creation of their own business they fail to set up these habits that will simulate “motivation”.

Jeremy covers four tips listeners should initiate in their own habits to create a framework that encourages productivity:


  • Define Goals (write down SMART goals)

  • Create Consideration (an investment of personal value that you could lose)


  • Get Accountability (Tell someone your goals and have them hold you to them)

  • Celebrate Success (find ways to reward yourself and cultivate a positive environment)

Jeremy explains the evidence behind these tips and how they can help anyone create routines and thrive in focus and productivity. You can find out more about Jeremy at Peritus Consulting, via email, or reach him on LinkedIn.

What's Inside:

  • How to perform like a top-level athlete at work and in your personal life?

  • What is the difference between motivation and willpower?

  • Can you create productivity without “motivation”?

  • What are the motivating systems and structures in place in your life that you don’t even notice?

  • 4 tips to create a highly productive framework.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:36

Welcome back, everybody. Nice to have you here. today. My guest is Jeremy Hartwell. He is the founder of Peritus Coaching and Peritus Coaching is a lifestyle performance and personal coaching business. Welcome, Jeremy.

Jeremy Hartwell 0:50

Thanks so much for having me, Susan, it's great to talk to you.

Susan Tatum 0:53

And I gotta ask what is a lifestyle performance coaching business?

Jeremy Hartwell 0:57

That isn't? That is an excellent question. And it's really bringing people in individuals ability to perform at their best no matter what they're doing. And I think that's particularly relevant in today's society, because modern society works against our even a baseline normal performance, right? inability to sleep, inability to think clearly inability to focus right? there, we are constantly battling the difficulties in modern life places and the stresses it places on us. So what I try to do is I try to bring science back in evidence based methodologies and toolkits to help people overcome these challenges and perform like a top level athlete at whatever they're doing, even if it's not athletic, or fitness, right, whether it's work, whether it's, you know, engaging in whatever they want to do.

Susan Tatum 1:43

So if somebody so you, do you actually help people to sleep better?

Jeremy Hartwell 1:48

Absolutely, yeah, that's actually foundational to what I do, because sleep is really at the core of everything else. If you're not getting enough sleep, it doesn't matter what else you're trying to do.

Susan Tatum 1:57

And the older you get, the worse it gets. If you miss a little sleep,

Jeremy Hartwell 2:01

yeah, yeah, I'm already experiencing. I am so habituated around my sleep routine, it's very difficult for me to get off of it.

Susan Tatum 2:10

So when we talked, when you and I talked before we got off on talking about motivation. And we were talking about, I think we're talking about transitions that consultants go through when they leave the corporate world and start their own consulting firms. And I think maybe you even said that you would struggle with motivation a bit. I know, I know that I can easily take a day on the beach instead of what I should be doing.

Jeremy Hartwell 2:37

Yeah, it's, um, motivation is a very interesting topic. And it's relevant to me personally, as as you said, when I left my corporate job to start my own business motivation was something that I didn't expect to be challenged with. I figured out pursue my passion. And that's what we carried me through. And I couldn't be more wrong. And I think lack of motivation or difficulty with doing what we think what we know, what we decided to do, right, is a common problem that a lot of us feel so then the question is, why is that happening? And what can we do about it in you know, meaningful ways that actually provide an impact. And it's one of the things I've investigated and applied to my own life with excellent success. And it's a framework that I work with my clients as well and helping them to achieve their motivation goals.

Susan Tatum 3:22

So what is the why you mentioned that? Why do we lose motivation when it's when we're on our own?

Jeremy Hartwell 3:29

Yeah, first of all, I want to sort of define motivation from a colloquial perspective, right? What do we think of when we hear the term motivation? And we generally equate it to willpower, right, I need to motivate myself to go do this thing, I need to have this motivation so I can get it done. That's actually willpower, right? It's this sort of desire or need, or some we feel like we have some sort of energy or capacity to tap into, that's our willpower, that we're going to use that then drive us forward. So with that defined, I think it's really important to point out that willpower does not work, full stop. And we it's not this, it's not this neuro is not a neurotransmitter. It's not a state, it's closer to an emotion, right? Willpower is closer to something like happiness or sadness. It's fleeting, sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. The problem is, we can't rely on it. And so most people approach challenges with this notion of I'm just going to power through, and that's not going to work. It might work sometimes, but it's not going to work all the time. And as we all know, results require consistency, and you can't get consistency with just willpower alone. And, you know, I can transition to the notion of why this is more difficult specifically for entrepreneurs or if you want to dive into that more, let me know.

Susan Tatum 4:46

Yeah, let's let's do it.

Jeremy Hartwell 4:47

Okay. Well, so one of the one of the reasons that we do things that we do in a work environment is because we don't have to rely on motivation. We have all these different things around us structures and systems. So motivation doesn't work, willpower doesn't work. What does work is structure and systems and when you're working for somebody, there are these structures in place for you, you don't have to search them out, you don't have to put them in place for the most part, right? If you don't do your work, you might get fired, right, or you might not get that paycheck, or you might not get that promotion, there's these rewards and incentives that other people outside of yourself are putting on you to perform. And so you have that external pressure that's on you. So you don't have to rely on that internal notion of motivation,

Susan Tatum 5:30

right. So that's where that's where the structure comes in, we need to create our own structure

Jeremy Hartwell 5:36

Well, right. So when you think about it, and you know, nine to five is kind of a joke now, but I'll just, I'll just use that paradigm for the purposes of this conversation. But when you're in the office, that's a structure. Right. And that was one of the biggest problems with remote work is because you lose that structure, that change of atmosphere. So when you go into the office, you all of a sudden, your mindset is more of a work mode, here, I need to do work, it was a clear separation. And not only that, there are other people who are expecting you to complete this work, you know, you're usually working within teams or with customers or clients. And so there are real, immediate consequences to not doing this work, usually close to our ego, which is very, very powerful. And it's much easier to let ourselves down than it is to let other people down. So even even if there is a productivity issue at work, it's usually not because you're not doing anything, right, there's usually a motivation to perform your work on some level. But the moment you leave that environment, and you leave those structures and systems that you have taken for granted, that disappears. And it's not usually something entrepreneurs planned for, they don't, they don't realize they have those structures in place. And so they don't recognize they need to plan for them to disappear. And that's an issue that I found immediately. And it was something I needed to resolve because I was finding that it was at least after the first two weeks of excitement, I found it very difficult to just sit down and do this work, because it wasn't super sexy, super exciting work. It was the nuts and bolts stuff I had to do to build my business. And I found I wasn't able to do it because those structures no longer existed.

Susan Tatum 7:11

So what did you do?

Jeremy Hartwell 7:12

That's a very good question. I am an intensely curious person. And it typically revolves around why we do the things the way that we do and how our biological makeup and our DNA kind of drives us into certain things. Right? So I started researching exactly what motivation is. And you know, that's where I came to the conclusion, after, you know, reading a bunch of articles, it's been good, some podcasts doing my research, that it's systems we need to put in place it's systems, and then it's discipline of adherence to those systems over motivation. So, you know, what, what do I mean by systems. So these are things that we put in place that we make a decision to adhere to whether or not we feel like doing it. And the systems are very important from a specificity perspective, they need to be time based, right. And I mean that by certain times in certain places, right, you need to create the structures around these systems. So as a really good example, one of my systems is a deep focus block in the mornings every day, from 9am to 11am. And it's exactly at 9am to 11am. It's in the same space, I have the same routine to get there. And I you know, I leave my phone outside of the office every single time, right? So even if I don't feel like doing deep work that day, I now have a system that I've done enough times that I'm habituated into it. So motivation doesn't matter. Right? It doesn't matter how motivated I am to do that. As soon as I step into that office at 9am, my brain is primed to do these things. And so I don't have to rely on willpower.

Susan Tatum 8:44

So so do you, I assume you would have picked nine to 11. Because that's a time when you you are at your best and thinking about stuff.

Jeremy Hartwell 8:53

Yeah. So that's the answer is yes. And also that's not coincidental from a biologic biological perspective. So when we think of focus and productivity, you know, productivity is the ability to do work over a set period of time, you know, and we typically measure output over time, which is productivity, we typically associate productivity with high levels of focus on a singular task. So with those definitions in place, I think definitions are important, because I'm specifically excluding divergent creativity. But with that definition in place, the neurotransmitters that you need for intense focus, dopamine, acetylcholine, and noradrenaline. Those are peak within six to oh, probably four to six hours upon waking. So if I want to be in a high focus state, I want to time that to win the neurotransmitters that allow me to be in a high focus state are already at their peak, and that way, I don't have to apply any supplements or external stimuli or other hacks to try to increase you know, those neurotransmitters. It's already there. And again, people have different timings around this, but depending upon what you know, if you want to be very creative, this is probably not a great time. After that, because focus and creativity are often I wouldn't say mutually exclusive, but they're close to it in terms of what you're trying to accomplish. But yeah, that was a long answer for the morning is no coincidence.

Susan Tatum 10:10

Oh, that's interesting, though, that focus and creativity, it would be sort of that opposition to each other?

Jeremy Hartwell 10:17

Well, this is a bit off. This is a bit off topic. And it's tangent. But I think it's, I think it's interesting, if you think about creativity, right. And specifically, diversion creativity, which is, is where you're thinking about a bunch of different disparate things, and you're trying to combine them into new and novel ways, right, that don't necessarily exist, it requires a very wide focus, right, you're trying to latch on to all of these different things that are all over the place. And if you're trying to like be super productive, and super focused on a single task, you actually put you know, blinders on. And actually, the visual system and your brain are intrinsically linked, they're actually your, your eyes are actually part of your brain, believe it or not. So you literally are, if you focus in a narrow spot, you can actually increase your own focus. But the point is, if you're super focused on accomplishing a single task, that's great for that task. But if that task is trying to be creative, or hate trying, trying to piece together all these you actually want your mind to wander to do that. Um, so if I'm, you know, if I'm creating content for a newsletter, or a LinkedIn post, I don't do that during my deep focus time, I do that while I'm walking the dogs, or where my mind is free to wander and think about different things. And then it becomes effortless.

Susan Tatum 11:28

That makes a lot of sense, actually. Well, so to get back on, get back on track here, because I am, I invited you to come here and talk to us or asked you to come here and talk to us about motivation. And yeah, how do we, how do we, how do we create the, I guess, the environment that keeps us motivated? And I know, you've got a framework that you use with your clients, and I'm hoping that you will share that with us.

Jeremy Hartwell 11:53

I'd love to. And I think first of all, the systems are important, right? So setting aside certain times and certain places to accomplish certain things. That's important for everything that we do not just motivation, because it strengthens the neural pathways that allow us to enter these different stages when we want to right now when we're feeling like it,

Susan Tatum 12:14

is that sort of like building a habit?

Jeremy Hartwell 12:15

Exactly, yeah. 100%. And we often, I want to point it out the term habit, because we often skim over that, but habit is a really fascinating thing, right? Because everything that we do, every movement we make every thought that we think is just a it's an electrical impulse, right? It's electricity, jumping, you know, chemicals, jumping across neural synapses in our brains, everything that we do. So when you create a habit, you are reinforcing certain pathways. And when the more you reinforce that pathway, the stronger that neural connection gets. So what a habit is, is you're literally strengthening the activity that you want such that it becomes effortless to fall into it. And difficult to fall out of it.

Susan Tatum 12:55

Yeah. Okay. All right.

Jeremy Hartwell 12:56

You're literally rewiring your brain.

Susan Tatum 12:58

I believe it. Yeah. And I distracted you. So we were talking about setting up systems.

Jeremy Hartwell 13:03

Yeah, I'm very, I'm very nerdy. So if you ask me questions like this, I'll deep dive do you have to cut me off?

Susan Tatum 13:09

Well, alright, so let's go back to your framework for for creating the structure.

Jeremy Hartwell 13:13

Yeah, for sure. And most of you know, everything that I recommend to my clients, I have also used myself, and it's all a science backed and evidence based, right. So for me, there's kind of four main things you can put in place to help you stay motivated within these systems, right without without having to worry about willpower. So I like to think of these break them up into two categories. There's the internal, and there's the external, right, stuff that you call debate from within. And then other things that you rely on external pressure to help you create this motivation. So starting with the internal, it's very, very important to define your goals. And I think we often don't do this, and it's a it's a major problem. So if your goal is just to start a business that's really ambiguous. And how do you know you don't even know what success looks like there? Right? What we really need to do is we need to write down our goals. And a lot of you know, a lot of your listeners may have heard of this framework before. But SMART goals, right? specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time based. And it's it sounds like a tired framework, but it is very, very, very effective. And it's something that needs to be written down on paper. So for every goal you have using that framework to really define what your goal is, because a lot of procrastination, or a lot of lack of motivation, actually has to do with the fact that you haven't defined your goal yet. And if you don't have a defined goal, it's really really hard to work towards that no matter where what else you put in place. So I would say that's the first step completely.

Susan Tatum 14:46

When you're working with your clients. How, how far out are you setting these goals? I mean, I'm sure you can have one month goals, three month goals, whatever. I mean, what if sometimes it feels like I don't know what I'm doing. Next month, how can I think about? Well, maybe that's an indication that Susan should do better goal setting, but

Jeremy Hartwell 15:06

I think it depends on the individual. And I'll just say what works for me and what makes sense to me. But that can obviously be tweaked, right is, what is an outcome that I'm looking for? Maybe it's too I think, a really easy one to think of is losing weight, right? I want to lose 20 pounds. So you don't want to like one, you have to start with the specificity. Right? Not just lose weight. So I want to lose 20 pounds, right? And then it becomes Okay, well, if the goal is 20 pounds, what is a realistic timeframe to lose that by? Because if you say next week, I'm going to call it and you're gonna say like, no, that's not, you know, you might be able to do that. But that's really, really unhealthy, right? 20 pounds is more like a six month journey. So, you know, it depends on the goal. But you really, yeah. Or like, if it's to be able to if it's to get better sleep, maybe it's in a week, right? You could pause, you could probably achieve better sleep if you're really good about the routine within a week. So it really depends on the goal. But what I what I ask clients to do is think about what outcome do you want, and then I work with them to help them understand what the timeframe should be based on that outcome. But you have to define the outcome first, not just this ambiguous notion of what you want to do, what is the outcome that I'm after?

Susan Tatum 16:17

Okay, that makes sense. So that are so that's, that's the first of four of the

Jeremy Hartwell 16:22

Yeah, so I'll I'll shift to the external pressure next. And, you know, one thing that's really, really important, and Psychologists call this the Hawthorne effect, and it's the notion that we work harder when other people are watching, right. And you can think of watching in a literal sense, I just read this article about this guy. I think his name is Simon, he works in tech, but he he was paying someone $5,000 a month to literally watch him all day. Which sounds sounds crazy, but but it's not because presumably, Simon has decided that the value he gets by someone literally watching him do his work, right, the extra productivity he gets far exceeds the $5,000. He's paying this person. So it's actually it's a, it's a high ROI for him, it's a high return on investment, because he's getting more out of this relationship. And he's giving away. But I think that's a pretty extreme example. But again, when you're in a corporate environment, there's always someone watching you, whether it's physical or virtual, or just, you know, in theory, someone is going to be evaluating your work, someone is going to be checking in on you, someone's going to be you know, reading your emails, someone's going to make making sure you're not just on Facebook all day, or, yeah, that's now I'm dating myself as an older millennial on Instagram or Tiktok. But um, you know, if, and that's something I struggled with a lot early on, is I would just turn on the TV in the morning, and then I would get stuck on the couch just watching Netflix. And it's because no one was watching. Like, if someone was in here watching me, I wouldn't do that. That's embarrassing.

Susan Tatum 17:55

Right. Yeah.

Jeremy Hartwell 17:56

So but but you know, we laugh, but that's it's an incredibly powerful motivator, right? So, okay, if you're an entrepreneur, how do you do that? Well, the best way to do that is to reach out to your network, tell people what these goals are, right? But you can't just stop telling people what these goals are, you actually have to ask them to hold you accountable, you have to say, Hey, I'm planning on losing 20 pounds within six months, I want you to ask me, you know, I'm going to set up a, I'm going to set up a calendar invite. And I want you to ask me how my progress has been after one month, two months, three months, right? Because the trap that so many people fall into is if we tell people our goals, right, hey, I'm going to make a million dollars, or I'm going to lose 50 pounds and just stop there. That's a dopamine hit. So that actually stimulates the reward center of our brain to make us feel like we've accomplished something, but you haven't accomplished something. So you've, you've gotten the the feeling of satisfaction by telling someone without having to do anything. And I see this all the time. Unfortunately, it's usually with potential clients who never pull the trigger, right? Because they want to tell me they're interested in working with me and improving their lives. And that's all they need. That's all they're after. They just want someone to think that they're going to do this.

Susan Tatum 19:10

That's it. I just go ahead.

Jeremy Hartwell 19:12

I'm done. I think

Susan Tatum 19:14

I have a great question. Here. I was about to get just get a stone even bigger rabbit hole are what so Alright, so we've got, we've written out our smart goals. Yep. We've told our network, what we're going to do, and we've asked him to hold us accountable for it. Or I suppose you could also get an accountability partner of some sort.

Jeremy Hartwell 19:32

Yeah. just just some sort of accountability. But again, the key is not just telling somebody, it's asking them to hold you accountable. Right. And maybe that's getting a co founder for your business.

Susan Tatum 19:40

Yeah. Okay. And then what comes after that?

Jeremy Hartwell 19:44

Yeah. So the other thing that's really important, this one is a bit more difficult, sometimes, but it's consideration and what do I mean by consideration? Consideration can be anything that you value. Typically, it's easiest to think of this in monetary terms. Because it's easy to objectively understand what that is. But if you put something on the line that you'll lose, if you don't do something, you're far more likely to accomplish that. And this has been studied in psychology for decades and found to be true in almost every single case. And it's, it's why if you if you get free coaching, or if you get something free, you're, you're less likely to follow the advice. So you're less likely to apply these things to your life, or you're less likely to follow through, because you've definitely lose, right. But if you're, if you're working with a personal trainer, and you're, you're spending, you know, $300 a week for five sessions a week with this person, if you're sure as hell, you want to show up for those morning sessions, right? Because you're putting a lot of money into this, no matter how uncomfortable it is. And you can use this to your advantage, right? And you can tie this into the personal accountability thing, where you could if you trust someone enough, you could potentially set up an escrow account, right? To where, if I don't meet this goal, I lose this money, right and will donate it to a charity or something. But it's it's finding some way to put something that you value on the line that you will lose if you don't accomplish this.

Susan Tatum 21:09

So it's yes, yeah, it becomes painful if you don't do it. Yeah, financially

Jeremy Hartwell 21:14

psychologically, we're wired to respond better to or respond more intensely, more emotionally to loss than benefit. And this is a survival mechanism. Because, you know, there's, there's a really big downside to, you know, seeing seeing a face in the bushes and thinking it's not a face and mistaking it for you know, a saber toothed Tiger and getting eaten. Right, there's, there's a really big downside to being optimistic. There's not a big downside to being pessimistic, right to seeing the bush thinking it's a saber toothed Tiger running, and it just being a bush, right? That's not much of a downside, as opposed to being eaten. So we're biologically wired to respond more emotionally to downside.

Susan Tatum 21:57

So we might as well use it.

Jeremy Hartwell 21:58

Yep. So again, it's all about and this, this goes back to what, how I try to apply things for my clients in my own life is understand our biology, and then use that to our advantage. Right? Stop working against our nature.

Susan Tatum 22:09

Oh, that'd be a good book. If we knew you're gonna write that

Jeremy Hartwell 22:12

next week.

Susan Tatum 22:16

While you're losing 20 pounds or not that nothing, yeah. All right. So we got one more

Jeremy Hartwell 22:22

we do. And I'll move back to the external part here. And I put these in order for a reason. So the last one then is, you know, it is the upside, right? It's celebrating successes. And it's especially as an and this is really, particularly for an entrepreneurs, because there's going to be no one coming around shaking your hand saying, hey, great job in that presentation, like you blew the board away. No one's gonna be doing that, right. So you have to find ways to reward yourself and express gratitude towards yourself and cultivate that positive environment. And it's not enough to just do the things, right. So every night, I have a practice where I write down three accomplishments for the day, I write them down on a physical piece of paper as part of my journaling. And it's a really, really important reinforcement, because you'll be shocked the first time you do this, when you actually write down the three to five accomplishments you made today, the top three to five things, you'll be blown away by how it makes you feel, it totally changes your mindset. And it gives you that well deserved. It's actually more serotonin at this point, but that well deserved feeling of accomplishment. And like you've done something today. And it's it's an addicting feeling. And so, if you're providing yourself with that emotional reward at the end of the day, for following through on things, that's going to continue to strengthen those same neural connections that are going to help you do the same things the next day, so that you can have that same reward when you write down the accomplishments.

Susan Tatum 23:45

You know, I think I think I've mentioned this to you. And we were talking about in a previous conversation that we had, but I always have trouble journaling. I know the value of it I logically I get it. But then I started writing down every at the end of every day, I'd write down what I learned that day. Or what new ideas came along. And then I found that that does the same thing as well.

Jeremy Hartwell 24:07

Absolutely. Well, so did you did you feel like it motivated you the next day to continue learning?

Susan Tatum 24:12

I think I'm always motivated to continue learning because that's just, you know, like you I'm very curious. And I like to do that. It. It made me feel good. It made me feel good, because I felt like I'm not going to lose this. I have written it down. And this is something that's going to be useful for me. So yeah, it was definitely a positive result from it.

Jeremy Hartwell 24:33

Yeah, I think that's, that's awesome. And I think with journaling, this is something I learned way later than I wish I had. The problem with advice about journaling is it's too rigid, right, you'll get a book about journaling, and it's going to have this specific framework and prompts. What I've found is journaling is very unique to every individual, right? So something that really resonates with Person X might be a total turnoff for me where if I try to force this I just get frustrated and annoyed. Right. But when you find when you find that thing that does resonate with you, that's when you find journaling really helpful. And I think that's when you can start building on it for other prompts, other things to write down. But in general, you know, the starting with accomplishments or starting with learnings at the end of the day is a fairly universal first place to start. There's very few people that won't resonate with.

Susan Tatum 25:21

Cool. Well, this has been extremely interesting, Jeremy, and we could probably sit here and talk all day, but I think I think we might lose the listeners. But I this is helpful. I think there's lots of tips. I've got a whole bunch of notes here. And a lot of things that consultants can do to just get that motivation going, you know, even when it lapses over time. So I thank you so much for starting by stopping by

Jeremy Hartwell 25:48

Absolutely. Yeah. And will all your listeners have an ability to reach out to me or

Susan Tatum 25:54

yes, please tell us

Jeremy Hartwell 25:54

that information.

Susan Tatum 25:54

Yeah. Tell us how to do that.

Jeremy Hartwell 25:56

So you can find me on LinkedIn. First Name, Jeremy J E R E M Y. Last Name Hartwell H A R T W E L L, if you want to email me directly, you can go it's And that's P E R I T U S consulting dot net. Well, I'll have a we have a website coming up soon. But that's as of yet that's still in a draft form. So I can't I can't give a URL.

Susan Tatum 26:24

But you get your LinkedIn profile if we can get to it. So that's cool. All right.

Jeremy Hartwell 26:29

And if you Google me, you'll see that I was also on reality TV, but that's a whole different story.

Susan Tatum 26:34

That's why you look familiar.

Jeremy Hartwell 26:37

I hope not.

Susan Tatum 26:37

All right. Well, thanks again, and hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

Jeremy Hartwell 26:42

All right. Thanks so much, Susan. It's been a pleasure.



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