MOTIVATION IS A MYTH!

MADDY
8 min readApr 20, 2021

Today, Motivation has become the millennial word of this generation. Digital and social media flooded with articles, blogs, TED talks , videos on self-help , productivity and lifestyle change speak loads of the same. But did you ever wondered why this word gained so much relevance in the first place?

As per my opinion , this word always existed , however it was never discussed over a prolonged period of time. Well, thanks to the Internet era, people have started discussing about things which actually bothered them.

If I give a very bookish answer of the same, the word 'Motivation' would pertain to the affective component of our system that influences our attitudes. And more than anything it directs our attention and action.

Let’s just see what Google has to say ( you see sources add credibility 😊)

Motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal oriented behaviors. Different disciplines be it management, psychology, culture and behavioral science talk about this very concept in their own ways, however the core meaning remains the same.

In short and simple, it’s an impulse , a feeling that has both positive and negative connotation. Well, you might think now, why am I iterating the concept when the intended meaning is pretty obvious to everyone?. But, if it is so obvious then why we not been able to figure how to deal with the same? (considering both its absence as well as its presence)

So, let’s take a divergent route to understand it. You see, there are multiple ways to get to an answer and I am taking the back route. Let’s start with how does the subject ‘motivation’ arise in the first place!

Have you guys ever heard of the word ‘slack’ ?. If so, well then you must know what I have to say, and if you are still figuring out, hold on……

Slack is a state of being too loose or not too tight enough. It is generally characterized by slowness, sluggishness or lack of energy. This can be due to lack of interest in whatever you are working on or just excessive burnout !!!!.

I am sure all of us must have faced this sort of behavioral impulse within our body and mind. People who look from outside often term slack as ‘mood swings’, while those who face the same credit the same to ‘lack of motivation’. Now, I would like to intervene in to both these approaches and say it is nothing , but just a ‘state of mind’.

But, why I am saying so?.

These are some facets of understanding that I would like to share:

  1. Doing too much at once or doing nothing at all: This is the most common tendency we all have developed within ourselves consciously or subconsciously owing to our interaction with the world on internet 24*7. The objective here is not to push the entire blame on the media at hand, but our pattern of consumption of the same. And do note, this is not just restricted to the internet world, it is prevalent in to some common habits of individuals.
  • Take an example here. Just think, How many times you scroll your phone? . You enter in to your digital space with a pledge ‘ I am just going to take 15mins’ & then you end up taking more than an hour. You first start on your Instagram & then end up in YouTube getting so hooked to that one video which makes you go through the entire list of that youtuber( say PETER MCKENIN, just check out his videos are incredible!). You feel that fantastic drive within yourself , you thought you got the right pulse & now you will have full energy when you start your work as you feel driven, but the time to actually take action gets deferred by the time to seek that pulse more. Ultimately you end up spending so much time & energy on that pulse that you hardly have the focus to actually work upon when you intend to start.

The extreme of the other situation is when you shut yourself completely & end up doing nothing at all , just busy spending your time scrolling newsfeed. In the first situation you know how much you ought to do, whereas in the second situation you know what you not ought to do to spend time wisely. However , in both these scenarios , you do fail to keep up with your belief and consistency.

At the end of both this situation, the two things that you sacrifice the most is your time and energy. The interesting part of it is you knew it, yet you couldn’t control. Now I do understand the scrolling must have been appealing in both the scenario. Especially in the second one, when you actually don’t know what you need to do, so it may count as a good excuse.

The solution is not what is already suggested multiple no of times , which is 'Set Goals’. Well, the idea seems very lucrative, however the frequency to which it really resonates with people differs. So let me give you a simple solution, which is ‘Prioritize’. Rather than setting long term goals, which gets lost in oblivion set priorities for the day or even the hour. The more duration you give to it, it feels a far achieve goal, the more you keep it close to you makes you act instantly.

  • This will be helpful as it will give some sense of direction in your timeline. Say you can scroll over , spend as much time on social media, but when you care for the work that needs to be done, you will tend to make time for it somehow. Overworking and underworking doesn’t really help. There needs to be a balance in between , and that can be your criteria of setting priorities.

2. Deadlines are the birth pill to sustain growth: You must have heard about the word ‘Procrastination’ a lot. It is like the monkey in your head that constantly tricks you in to believing there is tomorrow to complete the task. If one properly notices, the one factor that plays here the most is ‘time’. Having an pre-conceived thought of having ample time the next day causes you to remain in your day dreaming world. One of the consequences of this kind of mindset is that it provokes you more to overthink than required.

Now, you must have come across ‘Paralysis of Analysis’. The point I am making here, is the more time you give yourself to think is the cost you bear to take less action. The end result of which is anxiety, depression and in a state of dilemma.

So how do you combat so?

Have deadlines!. They are very useful for those who are not self-driven. It acts like an external pressure on the back of your mind , which makes you think how to finish the task , rather than making you think how to start the same. Deadlines limit the time one actually would have given themselves in an otherwise not in a very normal setting. An interesting law to back it up, is The Parkinson’s Law.

According to this law, work stretches itself to the fill the time attached to it. So, the less time you give yourself to work on the task, the faster the work gets completed and vice-versa.

One may say, this approach may cause unnecessary stress, but let me say stress has both positive and negative characteristics. You might even feel stressed when you procrastinate , because you are piling things for tomorrow ,and this kind of stress builds anxiety. However, when the stress is directed towards some action that has an objective, it stimulates to complete the task at hand. Moreover, after completing so, the entire stress dilutes and you feel more than light.

Once, the system of deadlines fits in to our core system , it takes just 21 days to convert it into habits after which it becomes an automatic function, that takes care of its functioning. So it’s completely up to us , what needs we attach to our timeline!

3. Feeling guilty is a positive inertia: While guilt is not something , that can be attached to a very positive emotion, however, sometimes it acts in the best of our interest. It just depends on how we use it.

After setting priorities and deadlines, guilt is the more natural progression. This arises naturally and this same feeling drives you to actually make sure that both the above factors are applied in life. Why I am saying so?

Everything is interrelated. You can’t really disassociate one with the other as they all act towards a common goal that is action. All the above tactics suggested are ways of cultivating mindset, which in turn nurtures our way of living life.

While we can say , ‘live in the present’, but does it really happen?. Both the body and the mind needs food to harness the same. By food, I mean implementing tactics and developing attitudes simultaneously.

The moment one has set the priorities and the deadlines, it is quite involuntary that our mind acts in the direction to achieve the specific goal. If it doesn’t do it makes us feel more guilty on having missed out ( even fomo plays a role ☺ ) on investing in the chance productively. The second day, it makes one more than determined and keen to take on the challenge and complete it within time.

The process is gradual because initially , it is an external force, but with time one gets more actively involved in the action both mentally and physically. This involvement finally transpires in to a likeability, which converts in to habits and then those habits in to intentions.

So you see, why guilt really works?. Because it creates a spiral thinking, much of it that can be attributed to the Cognitive Dissonance Theory ( Well you can google it!)

You see , now the rationale behind motivation being a myth, because anything can influence you for a second, but nothing can drive you for lifetime. Until and unless it has an implication of behavioral change , it is not something very useful and that we are just wasting time or cost which can be attributed to the concept of ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’. Well, the concept says, you know you are wasting , but you have already spend half of your time, and because you cannot think of a better alternative , you don’t mind spending extra.

Well, its imperative to understand time has a certain cost, that you are paying through you mental and physical energy. The more you link it to action, the same gets cultivate in your mindset and no loner do you feel bored enough!.

Before signing off , I would like to clarify ,the objective of this post is not to promote ‘How to be Productive?’ or how to manage your time?. Well, your smartphone is filled with those tips. The point I am trying to make is just be ‘Actionable’ and just don’t attach too much importance to a temporary drive or feeling!

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