Support Framework for Motivation
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
In my previous blog on motivation, I’ve captured what it means to be motivated on a visceral level. By finding a purpose, a meaning, a guidance and with a beacon of ‘why’ tailored to our needs, we can pinpoint to some extent as to what we are destined to do in our lives. Let’s assume we now have a clear vision of our wants versus needs; to make sure we understand our high level ambitions, and not digress from the rationalities.
There’s a catch to this though; motivation is not always present. No matter how strong-willed we think we are, we seem to get entangled in situations that will make us question our own motivational tenets. We probably are all guilty of this.
Why do we do this? Even after discerning our ‘why’?
This is confusing. Surely the one thing that motivates us and finding it, i.e. the ‘why’, should be sufficient, right?
Probably not. Not every time we want, anyway.
To start simplifying this, let’s first drop the proverbial bomb, the ‘Elephant in the room’, if you will.
We aren’t as strong will as we think we are, over an indefinite period.
I would be willing to bet a good sum against anybody who is assertive about being motivated throughout their lives. I mentioned in my above statement about us not being as strong willed, and I stick by that as I myself am a victim to these human tendencies. I consider myself to have a strong and meaningful purpose in life. From what I’ve experienced, this alone doesn’t suffice; at times when it is really difficult to relate to the abstract concepts of our purpose and associated goals.
My theory behind this is: We are not aware of the goals and purposes in life but we are hardwired to appreciate and interact with tangible things in life. Trees, animals, objects, building structures etc. are easily relatable to us than the abstract concepts like imagining the future and how we fit into the then socio-political spectrum. I am not speaking for every human on the planet but in general terms, I think we can all agree to this.
So what now?
I cannot just expose a problem and do nothing about it. Surely, there must be a solution to this. All the ‘successful’ people in the world must share some sort of commonality when it comes to their triumphs. One of the similarities are habits.
Everybody, at some point in their lives, has dreamt big. There are plenty of reasons why those dreams do not capitalise. Be it a psychological, societal or a physical hindrance, however I am trying to clarify myself on the grounds that these hindrances are absent and clarity in one’s purpose in life is present.
We feel like giving up sometimes; not because we do not believe in our positive intentions, but because our primal instincts are so strong that they tend to overpower our rational thoughts and lead us to inconsistency. This is when, following a system or a structure comes in handy. These systems and structures are called habits.
Habits are incredibly powerful. These tools, processes or structures allow for automation. By automation, I mean doing something without thinking. We drive, eat, type or brush with very little thinking. Automation enables us to focus our attention in other activities that benefit us; whether they are good or bad to us is not that pertinent here. What is relevant is the seemingly mundane tasks, the tasks that we do iteratively, will compound to a greater result in the future that’ll enable us to attain our goals. This will in turn aid in shaping our purpose.
Let’s provide an example to make my points clearer.
1. The “Why”
Purpose: Do something good for others.
2. The “Who”
Me: (I am good at drawing :))
3. The “What”
Sell my art for a good sum, multiple times in my lifetime.
Help out the needy and disabled.
Open up an Art School (Online or Brick-and-Mortar) to help others in the same realm as mine
4. The “How”
On top of your usual daily routine, formulate and follow a rigorous routine for multiple years that includes following activities but are not exhaustive:
Working part time in charity organisations
Learning to teach
Learning to sell
Learning to start a Company or a business
The activities above might seem daunting at first and may seem hard to incorporate. Given that we already have a strong purpose we shouldn’t necessarily be in a dubious situation now. If we are, then we need to revisit our “why”, “who” and “what”.
The above routines are similar to the routines we carry out on a daily basis. Therefore we certainly have come across the benefits of a cumulative effort through an extended period of time. We do understand that doing a form of exercise 12 times a year is not going to yield our desired bodies. Furthermore, 12 times doesn’t allow automation. This is important. We have to be in a situation whereby we’ll perform tasks with minimal thinking.
Now we’ll start to carry out the iterative activities, (daily or whatever cadence we think is required). Because we are following a routine, it’s almost a second nature to us when it comes to performing the activities that lead us to those goals. This means we are already equipped to involuntarily perform these activities even when our primal instincts try to overpower us.
Let's delve deeper into this:
I don't necessarily put forward and think about my purpose in life every time I perform a workout routine (which is 6 days a week) to be healthy; I just do it! I just do it not because I always refer to my purpose and goals but because I'm in almost an autopilot mode every day when the workout time arrives! It's similar to brushing teeth where one doesn't contemplate on performing this routine regardless of however they feel like on that particular day.
Therefore as an observation we can safely say that, in a sense, habits are like a hedge created by us to defend from our own future selves.
This will hopefully result in less distractions and more focus on other facets of life. A win-win situation!
I’m not indicating that this is the only solution to the problems we face to keep the motivation going. Human lives and the human dogmas are immensely complex. I presume it is impossible to come up with a silver bullet. However, we can conclude that we can safely act on the basis of empiricism and try limiting our weaknesses rather than forcibly trying to shut them down, which we all know only works temporarily.
Suggested book to read: James Clear - Atomic Habits ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐