My Wisdom On Motivation
Greetings and welcome to my blog. If you’re reading this, I want you to know that I immensely appreciate you and I feel honored that you want to know what I think and what’s going on in my life. In this post, I’ll be writing about motivation and the things I’ve learned about it. I’ll share my insights on what things work for me and what doesn’t. In recent times, I’ve achieved more success than I’ve ever had and I wanted to share this wisdom with others.
Ever since I was a teenager I experienced a lot of trouble with being motivated. I wasn’t extremely aware of it back then. I simply brushed it off like it was the most ordinary thing in the world. And frankly, it is. Truth is, we all procrastinate. Okay, maybe not all of us, but most. In my case, I never studied for any test until the day before. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have studied by then and simply tried to jam everything in my head in the breaks or other hours I had in school. In a way, I was fortunate to be able to do this. But in hindsight, maybe I wasn’t so lucky because I never learned the valuable lessons of what it means to work hard for the things that I want.
“Procrastination is like a credit card; It’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” ~Christopher Parker
Procrastination is one of the key signs of having a lack of motivation. Or so, I thought. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But before I debunk this statement we have to propose the question, what is motivation?
Let’s see what the Cambridge dictionary has to say about it. According to the dictionary, the meaning of motivation is: ‘The need or reason for doing something.’. Alright, that’s pretty straightforward, but we have to dive a little bit deeper to formidably grasp what it means. Therefore, I’m going to ask you the question; what does it mean to be motivated?
Think about this for a second.
Most likely, the answer you’ve come up with is something along the lines of the following;
‘A person who is motivated has a goal, and they work towards it.’.
We could include some words about having desires or emotions for doing certain things. And even though I would say that this is correct, most people when they try to be motivated they get it all wrong. Just like I did. Because what happens when we think about motivation is we try to observe the behavior of a motivated person and figure out what’s going on. Predominantly, we’re looking from the outside in. The problem with this way of thinking is that we’re looking at motivation like it is a behavior. Motivation might cause a person to behave a certain way, but it has nothing to do with behavior and all to do with what’s in the mind.
“Motivation is an inner force that compels behavior.” ~Denis Waitley
What Motivation Really Is
Very simply put, motivation is the ability to hold a thought in your mind. It is possible this is very obvious to you, but for me, it never was until recently. I’d constantly find myself trying to copy the behavior of a motivated person, but that didn’t work at all. I’d find myself feeling very bored and lost in this behavior since it wasn’t me. Then, anxieties and insecurities came looking around the corner and in no time I would be behaving the same way I was before. Perhaps I can partly blame this on my addictive personality. Either way, my perspective on this matter completely shifted once I discovered this statement. I also had to reshape my belief about procrastination.
Procrastination is one of the key signs of having
a lack of motivation.
It’s just the mind trying to hold on to that thought. This might sound a little counterintuitive, but allow me to give you an example. Picture a 16-year-old boy that has a test 2 weeks from now. The first thought that crosses the boy is; ‘The exam is in 2 weeks. I don’t have to study right now.’. At that moment he loses the thought of having to study, or in other words, he loses motivation.
A week later, a friend of his starts talking about how he has started studying for the test. At this moment, he receives a friendly reminder of what has to be done. But, another friend asks him to play some video games after school. And another day goes by. More days pass in the same way. Now the test is only 1 day away, and he still hasn’t studied. And as he’s playing video games, his mind keeps reminding him that he has to study. A lot of games have been played, and it’s evening now. The boy enters panic mode and starts studying as hard and as long as he can. He sleeps for 3 hours and barely passes the test the next day.
You could probably have guessed it, this boy used to be me. But you can see that every time the thought of studying for the test enters his mind, it’s a clear sign of motivation. Procrastination is not a sign of not being motivated, but merely a calculation of how much time he had to spend doing the task at hand. And he nailed it. His goal was to pass the test, and he did. It was also remarkably effective because by postponing the studying he invested less energy than he would have if he studied every single day for 2 weeks. But was this the best way to go about it? Probably not.
The thing that I’m trying to point out is that any time you have a thought in your mind about something it’s a sign of being motivated. We could look at our minds like it’s Newton’s cradle. And as we know our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. So, in this example, there’s the thought of studying. Then, another thought hits the thought in your mind like a cradle. *Bump* ‘You could play video games right now.’. And the motivation disappears. The day before the test his mind is reminding him more often and the entire time while he is playing games the thought of studying keeps bumping into the thought of playing video games. *Bump* ‘I don’t want to right now.’ *Bumps again* and again, and again. Until finally, the pressure got built up so high that now all his focus is on studying and the thought doesn’t get bumped out of the way anymore until he’s had the test.
“Success is not final; Failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” ~Winston S. Churchill
What Kills Motivation
If motivation is the ability to hold a thought in your mind then all we have to do is not to let the thought slip away. Someone who we think of as being very motivated to become very fit and healthy. Someone who goes to the gym every day does not actively think about becoming fit and healthy. What’s in his mind is simply; ‘Got to go to the gym.’. He might know that these goals are a result of going to the gym, but it’s not what he thinks about.
Ergo, if I want to be a successful writer, all I have to think about is to write. And the more I do so, the more successful I become. But if I think about becoming successful more than about writing, I’m destined to fail. Anxieties and insecurities would take this thought of; ‘I have to write today.’ and bump it out of the way with the thought of; ‘What are people going to think about me?’ and ‘It’s not good enough.’.
Anxiety is an extremely good motivation killer and a strong bump of the cradle. And if you let the fear bump the original thought of wanting to do something out of the way, the motivation is dead. Because now it has no place in your mind.
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” ~Suzy Kassem
How To Unlock Your Motivation
The secret key to unlocking your motivation is understanding this principle of the cradle. The more distractions or anxieties you have in your life and the easier you give in, the harder it will be to hold a thought steady in your mind.
In the world we live in these days, it can be very hard to practice this effectively. Every moment there could be someone sending you a Whatsapp message. And at every moment there is entertainment available that allows you to scroll endlessly for the next funny video or post. It’s incredibly easy to lose the thought that is most important to you. So, how do we go about it?
A very effective strategy for me has been meditation. I told you in the previous post I use meditation to become less insecure, but it can also help with focus. Generally, these are two different types of meditations and are not recommended to be combined. But both meditations have the principle of holding a thought steady in your mind. If I use meditation to become less insecure, I focus on the anxiety first and then focus on what it would look like if I wasn’t insecure anymore.
If I want to practice my focus, I simply sit down and focus on my breath. Every time the cradle hits the motivation of focussing on my breath out of the way, I redirect my attention to my breath. If I lose myself in thinking about something else, there’s no harm done. The reason I was doing it was to become aware of all the times I lose my attention. And over time, the duration and intensity of my awareness become stronger. Practicing this for 15 minutes a day can have remarkable results in your life. Especially, if the cradle keeps knocking the thought you wanted to focus on out of the way.
“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” ~Buddha
What I’ve learned is that motivation has nothing to do with wanting to reach certain goals in life. Goals can however help strengthen the connections made in the brain, but ultimately it’s about holding the activity that you want to do steady in the mind. Over time discipline becomes a habit and goals become milestones. I’d love to write more about ways to practice this, but that’ll be in a different post as this one is getting quite long.
Let me know what you think about this way of looking at motivation. Have you always known this intuitively? And what are the thoughts that bump your motivation out of the way?
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!