May 16, 2023

Shoveling more coal into the fire of resistance


How do you motivate yourself to do the things you don’t want to do, but know you need to do?

It’s mostly mindset.

The first thing you have to do is accept that the reasoning center of your brain is not your friend. You simply can’t listen to what it says.

The only solution is learning to bypass the scrutiny of your logical mind. Otherwise you will never get the ball rolling down the hill and build momentum towards your goals.

Imagine you want to get into the habit of going for a bike ride before work. Sounds energizing!

However, the last thing you should do when you wake up each morning is lay in bed and take stock of reality. Don’t ask yourself what kind of mood you’re in today. And by all means don’t look out the window or check the weather on your phone. That will only shovel more coal into the fire of resistance.

You’re only going to think to yourself, ugh, it’s so cold and dark and windy and wet outside, and I’m so warm and cozy and tranquil and dry right here.

Yes, all of those things are true. They’re also irrelevant.

Such thoughts are never going to motivate you to get out of bed. Your survival instinct has officially kicked in and now that ancient reptilian brain is trying to protect you from any exposure to harsh conditions.

Listen, evolution is just doing its job, but you need to do yours as well.

When it comes to motivation, monitoring your mood is the enemy. What if you framed it as making meaning instead?

The second thing you have to realize about doing things you don’t want to do is, speed is leverage. You have to act fast enough so the fear doesn’t have time to slip in.

Beat your brain the punch. Do the thing before your mind finds reasons not to.

It’s called short circuiting. Instead of stopping where the fear wants you to, you go fast enough so that anxiety doesn’t paralyzes your system.

This tool has helped me discipline myself to do lots of things I don’t want to.

Where could you introduce more velocity to short circuit your fear?

My final point on motivation is quite absurdist, and will not be particularly helpful or satisfying, but here goes anyway.

When it comes to doing things you don’t want to do, just remember, nobody wants to do anything. Nobody wants to go anywhere. We hate everything. Human beings are the most mercurial, grouchy pains in the ass on the planet. Myself included.

Do you really think I want to be up at dawn in the dark writing this goddamn essay right now?

Of course not. This sucks. My wife and dog are sleeping soundly in our soft bed, and I’d rather be snoring right next to them, dreaming about swimming in a tank of marshmallows. The big ones, not those little hot chocolate ones.

Point is, you’re not the first one to not want to do things. Nobody wants to do anything. But don’t let that be the reason you get stuck.

Don’t let that be the heap of coal shoveled into the fire of resistance.

See if you can rise above the absurdity of apathy.

That’s often enough of an accomplishment where it doesn’t even matter how well you do the thing you’re trying to do.

When evolution starts doing its job, will you do yours as well?