Anytime we're having trouble motivating ourselves, it's helpful to think of it as a problem of economics. Because it's simpler than people make it out to be. We can't discipline ourselves to go through present pain to achieve future gains. That's the equation to solve.
MOTIVATIONAL ECONOMICS — Either shifting our relationship with pain, or shifting our definition of gain.
Let's explore both. The first option requires some serious acceptance and surrender. We learn to trust that no amount of thinking can eliminating the pain of living, and we learn to accept that anytime pain happens, that means our brain is giving us information about being alive in the world. Now, neither of these realizations makes anything hurt less. But by painting a picture that allows us to view our pain more positively, we deepen our tolerance when it inevitably arises. Ultimately, by establishing a more constructive relationship to pain, we find that disciplining ourselves to do things we don't feel like doing, is no longer a problem. The second option for overcoming motivation blocks is to transform our definition of gain. This requires some serious patience and egolessness. Because most of us have too narrow a barometer for success. We believe it's not a genuine win if we don't crush it, publicly, in front of the right people, racking the socially approved number of points on some imaginary scoreboard. When the reality is, the moment we recognize that there are many sources of victory, our gains multiply exponentially. Turns out, everything feels like a win once we frame our work in a wider, more loving light. Let these gains not be underestimated.
Economics was one of the hardest classes I ever took in college. Didn't lean a thing, except for this. No pain, no gain, is a terrible mantra. Perhaps a smarter phrase would be know pain, know gain. That helps me overcome my favorite explanations for why I can't motivate myself.
Remember, there is a bewildering diversity of apparent motivates that drive us. And so, let's not focus our attention on our apparent struggle to motivate ourselves. Let's not spend so much time generating reasons and explanations and excuses, instead of actual work. Instead, let's trust that we're all unique individuals who have many possible ways of changing ourselves. What are your motivational economics?
Deepen our tolerance for discomfort
Master the adult habit of doing things you don’t want to do
Free your productive from the impediment of mood
Paint a picture that allows you to view your pain more positively