You all know the times when you wake up – and then you say to yourself – this is a great day! I am going to do great things! – and you cannot even get up. Then you excuse yourself, “okay I got up late”, but I am going to make up for it for the rest of the day. And at the end of the day, you have not done much, you feel shitty.
“I will do it tomorrow” – “I will make up for it tomorrow”. You can’t wait for it to be the morning. Lying in your bed, you are planning in your head the best execution plan and how you are going to do it the next day.
That never happens. Instead, the cycle repeats!
You all know what I am talking about?
There is just not enough motivation to be NOT LAZY and do something.
The safety of familiarity and the challenge of your competence – the perfect yin and yang
Sometimes I feel like doing things. Sometimes I don’t. For this reason, I think motivation comes and goes.
I don’t want to do things, sometimes, because I am uncomfortable attempting new things – it is a great challenge for my ego – I might not want to put my belief about my competency in line to be tested – especially when I don’t think I have enough of it.
We would rather believe we can do certain things, even we don’t accurately know if we can do it.
Or you don’t do shit because of the boredom that comes with the repetition of a certain task. Where the task is almost monotonous and automatic – you are like a cog in the machine. There is no surprise of newness.
There were times when I used to hate my old programming job, not motivated do anything…
…not because it was the unknown, but because I was so used to it. It was uncomfortable doing a repetitive task, The same thing over and over again. There were no intellectual stimuli for me.
You don’t know how to do something – is it what putting you off? Learn about it. So, you have the confidence to attempt it. A task is too boring for you, introduce challenge to the equation.
You need both. The safety of knowledge and the challenge of your competence to motivate you. It is the perfect yin and yang.
So, you need these in order to do the uncomfortable things that you want to do.
But, is the answer in doing uncomfortable things?
It depends on what you want. It will grow you in the sense that you will be better equipped to “stay in the room”. You will be better equipped to stay in the discomfort.
Doing things that you don’t like grows you, but the kind of growth depends on the activity. A better question would be, “In doing this activity – Is this the direction I want to grow towards?”. If the answer is “no”, then you should not be concerned about getting motivated in doing that.
Mindlessly doing something is stupid and is a waste of time.
Knowing the purpose behind an activity is important in getting motivated.
And by purpose, I mean, the purpose for you. You don’t want to be the sheep following a common narrative of what people “should be” doing. That is a sure-fire way to feel depleted and miserable. Know your “why” – before doing something, “Your” being the keyword.
Knowing your whys and having clarity of your purpose naturally calls in the required motivation and drive to carry out the steps necessary.
“If you really want to do it, you will do it” – Really?
There is some truth to it. If you are in survival mode, may be that is more valid. When you are thinking of how to stay alive when a sabre tooth tiger is hiding behind the shadows to devour you – may be the, it holds valid. Or you need to think that starting a business is at the same level of important as getting eaten by a tiger.
When you have all your basic needs met – you feel safe in there. Anything you desire – or “want” – so to speak – is not really “if you really want to do it, you will do it”.
People are moved by desperation or inspiration. More often from desperation and inspiration.
Your brain is wired to protect you, meaning it does not want you to be doing activities that it can’t control. And as for most new activities, you are not familiar with them, and that is a source for fear. People find safety in misery; can you believe it? Well I can, I do it very often. Being happy is not a feeling that I am usually accustomed to, that is a reason for fear. My brain is not used to it.
Our minds always try to protect our identities.
Your concept of yourself is one that of a person who is afraid of the unknown. Well, that plays a role in how much fear you are experiencing.
Do you believe in yourself enough that you can complete the task at hand – do you have trust in your abilities? Can you figure out how to execute a certain task, even if you don’t know how right now? If you say yes to these – that is the sense of self-confidence.
How much you believe in yourself plays a role in how much you are motivated to take action. Your trust in your competence and being resourceful – figuring things out as you go – more precisely.
Is motivation garbage or does it really work?
Some say motivation is garbage, have a look at this video from Mel Robbins.
There are times definitely that I have felt motivated, those were the times when I was feeling good. I was in a good state. I was rather happy in these states. Sometimes reading a book inspires me, watching Avengers inspires me, new knowledge inspires me. Something in the movie touched some places in “my soul” – let’s say – and I was moved enough to act.
So, state affects you. When you are in a resourceful state you are naturally motivated. So, how can you be in a resourceful state when you are not? if such a thing is possible.
And when I am learning something new – like learning a new way to write a bit of code, or a new way to coach my clients – I can’t wait to implement them.
But these are rather natural I think, I never thought about it like, I want to get motivated, so I am going to watch a movie. Something hooks my attention and then I am naturally curious about it.
You can see a correlation here, between these things, if you pay attention to yourself. To me, everyone is motivated differently though you can recognise the collective ways in which people normally behave. Pay attention to the ways in which your natural motivation spurs up. Also know the collective ways.
What I have found is that if you have a strong need to get motivated, if I am forcing myself to be motivated, it never works. It is like demanding sex from a woman. It is a bit like we are demanding something from our own feminine, but she revolts. Your feminine is has its own directive and you can’t force it – (Feminine – don’t confuse it with “female”).
Just like creativity, you can’t force motivation.
What I do believe is that though, you can set the right conditions. Get the soil right, get the nutrition right – for the seed to grow – the seed for motivation that is.
If your future is predictable it is already the past.
Your brain is wired to protect you and whatever you want to learn new – your brain is going to say – Nah – uncharted territories. Be careful. You can’t control the outcome. So, don’t do it.
So, if you can’t control the outcome then you are not going to do it. Basically, you want to live in the past. You don’t really want a future. You want to have the same experiences.
If you don’t know whether your business is going to be successful – you are not going to start it. You need a guarantee. You need to know whether it is worthwhile to do something. After all you don’t want to waste your time and money.
It is a risk indeed, to try out something new. But you can’t because your brain is protecting you. You believe all the voices in your head as your own. You are so strongly attached to those thoughts – you believe that these thoughts are you.
But, is it sensible? If you only do the things for which you are sure of the outcome and know how to execute it, you are not learning anything new.
So what to do when you don’t feel like it?
It is important not to listen to your mind sometimes, often times these voices are those of doubt – fear and insecurities.
This is where something like the 5 second rule can help us. We need something to get started. Short circuit that brain. Count 5..4..3..2..1 and go. Check out Mel Robbins’ book “5 second rule” – or “The 5 second rule”.
It will get you started and will put you in motion.
Mark Manson in his blog – (I’m a big fan Mark, if you are reading this) talks about the do something principle.
Make your bed, may be? Is not that also a trend these days? I have to agree with this as I have tried this out myself and have found it works for me.
It is a small enough task when you get out of the bed – that you can do and feel proud of. It gives us a small sense of accomplishment. Small! – but an accomplishment nevertheless.
We want to feel like we are accomplishing worthwhile things. What you need is that sense of achievement.
Making your bed is worthwhile because when you come back home – you can just jump onto your bed and watch Netflix.
Do something worthwhile even if it is small.
If you want to take things to a next level, beyond making your bed, device yourself a nice routine in the morning. Mine is meditation and journaling – what I want, what I am thankful for, what my fears are. It is a good practice to be self-aware.
Your fears, desires and what I you are thankful for, they change. They change constantly for me. A year after now I can pick it up and read them how they changed for me.
Sometimes it is fun reflecting on where I was and where I am now. Progress is an amazing motivator. So, keep a journal.
Some fears are still there – in this case, it is not that comfortable to know that.
Have a routine every day and that will set you in motion.
Reward me – give me that double patty burger with cheese and bacon.
The theory about internal and external motivation suggests that people do things because they expect rewards.
People do things to get a reward from the external environment – approval from parents, siblings, teachers, friends, spouse – money – status etc. That is extrinsic.
“Love me, love me” I am following the rules, approve of me. I will do anything for you – approve of me. I have not been bad – approve of me. Give me that praise. Reward me with your love.
“Look at that hot one – if I make enough money and can provide security I can have that one. Let’s get to work. If I work 40 hours a week then I will have enough money to be attractive enough”. It is not a very good kind of motivation – but you see how it works.
Wanting good grades motivates a student to learn more because that way they get the approval from their parents and peers.
Feeling something is a reward, not feeling something is a reward. Expecting something moves you to act, the inevitability of an unpleasant situation unless you act – moves you – depending on whether or you can take the intensity of the unpleasantness.
“You are such a good boy for eating all your veggies.”. “Make sure you have that report on my desk first thing tomorrow, or you are fired” – these sort of things.
Also, people are motivated to do things internally. They enjoy doing certain things – playing a musical instrument – for knowledge – to feel self-worth – for the fun of it – mastery of a certain skill so one can feel good about it – pleasurable physical feelings. The motivation and the rewards are within. It does not depend on an external entity – anyone outside, any external situation etc. The motivation is intrinsic.
Work on your intrinsic motivation, that will form you into an individual. You will be able to think for yourself when you are by yourself and when you are in a group. Set up a reward system for yourself. No external entity in the reward equation? Even better.
Don’t you validate me with praise for something that I already want to do.
Something that I really hate is when a woman tries to praise me for doing something, because she wants more of what I was doing – not because she genuinely appreciates it. It is almost like they read about this in a magazine as a formula or something and they are trying to implement it. I don’t know! Did you?
Men are suckers for acknowledgement and approval – and that is our doom – that is what makes us stupid.
Parents do it to their children, not because the child enjoys doing it – but the child will do to get the approval. The praise is in favour of parents’ agenda.
That is not the point I was trying to make, went slightly on a tangent.
Research has found that, and also my experience – suggesting an external reward for an activity that we are already interested in doing leads us to feel forced in doing it, even if we enjoy it.
I enjoy washing dishes – (sometimes at least) – and if someone says – “Thanks Hash for doing this” I’m like – “get the fuck outta here. I did it for myself”
It can also be as simple as asking for something from someone that they want to do already.
This is also why women – even if they want sex, as soon as a man asks for it – they don’t want to do it. She thinks that she is obligated to do so now. People don’t really want to give what others want. They want to give others what they think what others want.
This is called as the undermining effect or the over-justification effect.
Suggesting external rewards for already intrinsically motivated actions can have the opposite effect.
We want to feel we are self-directed – not directed by someone else.
Autonomy is important for getting motivated – meaning we don’t want to feel forced to do things. But we always force us to do things, internally – is that working? Your “should-ing” to yourself is stressing yourself out. That is how you kill your own autonomy and thus your motivation.
Where to go next?
If you keep worrying about the basics of your survival you cannot quite focus on what you desire – or “want”.
See if your basic needs are being met.
No-one is coming to rescue you. Don’t wait around for someone to motivate you. Don’t wait around.
If you continuously worry about not being motivated, it will never happen. It is like forcing an orgasm – that won’t happen.
Forcing motivation is like trying to force an orgasm.
Create the right conditions so that you can feel inspired. Pay attention to your environment, your emotions – how you feel.
Remember your whys, take that next small step. Put yourself in motion. Be autonomous.