Motivation is a powerful, yet tricky beast. Sometimes it is really easy to get motivated, and you find yourself wrapped up in a whirlwind of excitement. Other times, it is nearly impossible to figure out how to motivate yourself and you’re trapped in a death spiral of procrastination. Scientists define motivation as your general willingness to do something. It is the set of psychological forces that compel you to take action. The author Steven Pressfield has a great line in his book, The War of Art, which I think gets at the core of motivation. To paraphrase, “At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”
In other words, at some point, it is easier to change than to stay the same. It is easier to take action and feel insecure at the gym than to sit still and experience self-loathing on the couch. It is easier to feel awkward while making the sales call than to feel disappointed about your dwindling bank account.
This, I think, is the essence of motivation. Every choice has a price, but when we are motivated, it is easier to bear the inconvenience of action than the pain of remaining the same. Somehow we cross a mental threshold—usually after weeks of procrastination and in the face of an impending deadline—and it becomes more painful to not do the work than to actually do it.
One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes after starting a new behaviour, not before. We have this common misconception that motivation arrives as a result of passively consuming a motivational video or reading an inspirational book. However, active inspiration can be a far more powerful motivator. Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration that naturally produces momentum. You don’t need much motivation once you’ve started a behavior. Nearly all of the friction in a task is at the beginning. After you start, progress occurs more naturally. In other words, it is often easier to finish a task than it was to start it in the first place.
Inevitably, your motivation to perform a task will dip at some point. What happens when motivation fades? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here’s what I try to remind myself of when I feel like giving up.
Consider every thought you have as a suggestion, not an order. Right now, as I’m writing this, my mind is suggesting that I feel tired. It is suggesting that I give up. It is suggesting that I take an easier path. If I pause for a moment, however, I can discover new suggestions. My mind is also suggesting that I will feel very good about accomplishing this work once it is done. It is suggesting that I will respect the identity I am building when I stick to the schedule. It is suggesting that I have the ability to finish this task, even when I don’t feel like. Remember, none of these suggestions are orders. They are merely options. I have the power to choose which option I follow.
Life is a constant balance between giving into the ease of distraction or overcoming the pain of discipline. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives and our identities are defined in this delicate balance. What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up? This moment when you don’t feel like doing the work? This is not a moment to be thrown away. This is not a dress rehearsal. This moment is your life as much as any other moment. Spend it in a way that will make you proud.
Author : Rtr. Dipanjan Das
Rotaract Club Of Barasat Central
RID No. 3291