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Screw motivation

Haikal Kushahrin
Haikal Kushahrin
2 min read
Screw motivation

Does this sound familiar to you?

You wake up, realise that you have to get some work done. However, there's a nagging voice telling you that you don't feel like it. That you shouldn't do it. That you should do something more fun instead. A few minutes later, you end up on the couch binge-watching your favourite Netflix show.

One of the reasons this happens is that we rely too much on motivation to get something done. We tell ourselves that we need to want to do something before doing it.

That's what I've been fed in school my whole life. To achieve success, I need to feed myself with hours of motivational videos to get that desire.

However, motivation is the last thing to rely on to get something done. Here's why.

Motivation is a wave.

Whenever we start doing something, we'll get a massive surge of motivation. After a few days, you'll end up losing your motivation. This temporary surge in motivation is called the Motivation Wave. Your motivation goes up, then crashes down. You might blame yourself for losing motivation, but the truth is, this is how motivation works in our lives.

Why do we get fooled by the motivation wave? When we think about acting on a good idea, we feel desire, excitement and fear. Your brain rationalises this feeling, and it feels logical to do hard things.

We start from emotion; then, we use rationale to act. This was useful in our prehistoric past, as fear will make you run fast when you see a lion. If we had to reason instead, we wouldn’t survive. In other words, we feel something, then we infer with ourselves. If we start reasoning first, then we'll probably realise that your motivation to run 10k every day will wane when you consider how hard it is to do such a thing.

Motivation fluctuates

Motivation fluctuates day to day, even minute to minute. You might even recognise the patterns of your motivation's fluctuations. Notice how it’s easier for you to slip into your bad behaviour slater in the evening than early on? That’s motivation fluctuating.

What's the anti-dote to motivation? Discipline. Discipline is when you realise that you don't need to feel like doing something to do it.

Saying "I don't feel like doing this" does nothing to your ability to get it done. Instead of relying on something unreliable like motivation, the force that pushes us to achieve our goals should be discipline.


Haikal Kushahrin

3rd-year medical student. buy me a coffee :)

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