Screw Motivation, What you need is discipline.

Screw motivation, what you need is discipline.

The new year has begun. 2020.

It’s only the change in the calendar. People will make resolutions.

They set the goals for 2020.

But, you know most people can’t even remember their yearly goals even after the first two weeks of the year. So, forget about following up until the achievement of the goals.

They will wake up in the morning and wait for the motivation to come.

They will watch motivational videos by famous Gooroos.

Watching endless motivation videos never works.

You don’t need another motivational video.

Screw motivation, what you need is discipline.

If you want to get anything done, there are two basic ways to get yourself to do it.

The first, more popular and devastatingly wrong option is to try to motivate yourself.

The second, somewhat unpopular and entirely correct choice is to cultivate discipline.

Motivation, broadly speaking, operates on the erroneous assumption that a particular mental or emotional state is necessary to complete a task.

That’s completely the wrong way around.

Discipline, by contrast, separates outwards functioning from moods and feelings and thereby ironically circumvents the problem by consistently improving them.

The implications are huge.

Successful completion of tasks brings about the inner states that chronic procrastinators think they need to initiate tasks in the first place.

Put in a simpler form, you don’t wait until you’re in Olympic form to start training. You train to get into Olympic form.

If action is conditional on feelings, waiting for the right mood becomes a particularly insidious form of procrastination. I know that too well and wish somebody pointed it out for me twenty, fifteen or ten years ago before I learned the difference the hard way.

If you wait until you feel like doing stuff, you’re fucked. That’s precisely how the dreaded procrastinatory loops come about.

At its core, chasing motivation is an insistence on the fantasy that we should only be doing things we feel like doing. The problem is then framed thus: “How do I get myself to feel like doing what I have rationally decided to do?”. Bad.

The proper question is “How do I make my feelings inconsequential and do the things I consciously want to do without being a little baby about it?”.

The point is to cut the link between feelings and actions and do it anyway. You get to feel good and buzzed and energetic and eager afterwards.

Motivation has is the wrong way around. I am utterly 100% convinced that this faulty frame is the main driver of the “sitting about playing mobile games or spending time on social media, and with yourself” epidemic currently sweeping many countries.

There are psychological problems with relying on motivation as well.

Because in the real-life, occasionally requires people do things that nobody in their right mind can be massively enthusiastic about.

Trying to drum up enthusiasm for fundamentally dull and soul-crushing activities is a form of deliberate psychological self-harm, voluntary insanity: “I AM SO PASSIONATE ABOUT THESE SPREADSHEETS, I CAN’T WAIT TO GO FOR THE SALES CALL, I LOVE MY JOB SOOO MUCH!”

Motivation is like manually winding up a crank to deliver a burst of force. At best, it stores and converts energy to a particular purpose.

By contrast, discipline is like an engine that, once kickstarted, actually supplies energy to the system.

Productivity has no requisite mental states. For consistent, long-term results, discipline trumps motivation, runs circles around it, bangs its mom and eats its lunch.

In summary, motivation is trying to feel like doing stuff. Discipline is doing it even if you don’t feel like it.

You get to feel good afterwards.

Discipline is a system, whereas motivation is analogous to goals. There is asymmetry. Discipline is more or less self-perpetuating and constant, whereas motivation is a bursty kind of thing.

How do you cultivate discipline? By building habits – starting as small as you can manage, even microscopic, and gathering momentum, reinvesting it in progressively bigger changes to your routine, and building a positive feedback loop.

Motivation is a counterproductive attitude to productivity. What counts is discipline.


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