Life is what happens to you each day. Not what will happen 5 years from now if you only had a little motivation.
Each day counts, each day is a gift and tomorrow you will not get back the time you wasted looking for that special something to push you out of your bed in the morning. So what to do?
Change motivation with inertia
Inertia is defined as the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion.
Basically, an object that is standing still tends to want to stand still while an object that is moving tends to want to continue moving.
So you might ask yourself? How does this resistance to change help me?
Have you ever noticed how starting a new goal like jogging can be so difficult if you’ve been a couch potato all your life but it seems effortless for those who have been repeating it for a while? That’s because your mind has difficulties in changing its motion.
But this can also be extremely powerful in a positive way if you are already moving.
Stopping becomes more difficult. I know people who are frequent runners and after they would have a break because of a cold or an injury the first thing they would do after recovery would be to go running again. It was deeply ingrained in their identity. The more they waited the worse they started to feel about themselves.
The same can be applied to successful entrepreneurs.
You see these people fail over and over again but them somehow they still manage to amount to great success.
They are constantly moving, their inertia is set to “ always move” not “be stagnant”
The stagnant ones are called wantrepreneurs.
They are always reading books, doing tutorials and learning from how-to-guides waiting for that perfect alignment of the planets when everything will be perfect. One step closer to being ready. Just one more TED talk away from starting to do that one thing.
Doing stuff surpasses motivation. You become detached of outcome and willpower.
Motivation might get you started but very soon you might plateau and reach analysis paralysis. You analyze the situation, all of the outcomes and don’t know where to start from. At the beginning, you are happy because you are getting all this information but then you start doubting everything.
When I was a junior in high school my physics teacher would tell me: the more you learn the more you realize you know nothing. This is very inspiring if you want to pursue the supreme truth and discover new meanings in this world. But this analytical pursuit of trying to understand everything and be as prepared as possible can also be very discouraging because you start doubting yourself more when you realize that instead of having to climb a ladder you have to climb mount Kilimanjaro.
If you are doing this while moving it’s ok because things are already in motion but if you haven’t moved anything yet you are sabotaging yourself.
How I hacked my brain
Start with ONE THING.
Practice that one thing daily until it becomes not a big deal anymore, a routine. Then add another one, repeat until it also becomes a routine. Add another one and so on.
The secret is to start with a small habit that might appear totally unrelated to what you actually want to achieve. I wanted to start going to the gym. I have tried this many times before and failed after a week in keeping up. Instead, I started the habit of going out for a walk each day at 7 pm for half an hour. No matter what the conditions: rain, snow, shitty mood, being sleepy, feeling hungry I would go out and take a walk. After I mastered this I had a reference point of achieving something I set out to do no matter what. Next step I began my goal of going to the gym. Whenever I felt tired and really bad at everything I always went back to the moments that I didn’t want to go walking but I persisted through it. These little affirmations in my head were saying:
“You went through this again and you succeeded”.
When you reach that difficult moment when you ask “ what’s the point?” your brain will do a quick search in your memory drawer and find a similar situation when it also took a lot of effort and patience to accomplish your goal with small increments and that is what will keep you going.
”I already did this, just with other variables. I can do it again if I just persist.”
I call this threshold the pain period.
In this state of moving, giving up now will hurt me more than failing or getting rejected or being called stupid or *insert silly excuse here*.
Habits don’t take effort.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Discipline, on the other hand, takes a ton of effort. For the first 20 years of our lives, we are used to being told exactly what we need to do in order to get from A-Z. We are disciplined. As long as there was someone there to push us we usually got somewhere. But once we try to go on a path not taken by others we quickly blame that we dried up all motivation at the first bump. Usually, when I reached this stage I used to say that I needed to discipline myself. Now I say I need to “habitualize” myself.
Today I do 4 things that a year ago would have seemed impossible for me to do. Now it’s automatic, it’s routine, it’s a habit.
- From the biggest couch potato now I’m going to the gym consistently for almost a year.
- I also read at least 1 hour per day. In college reading usually made me sleepy and bored. I would space out easily after 2 pages. My focus has deeply improved.
- I wake up by myself at 6:30 every morning whereas before I would hit the snooze button 3 times at around 8 AM because I was too tired to face the world.
- I stopped drinking alcohol altogether because the next day I would always feel drained. Funny is the fact that now I’m actually more energized and popular in social groups compared to when I was drinking like a Viking.
I’m not pressuring myself with discipline and motivation to do that one Big Thing today anymore. I started with one at a time and now it’s a routine that is part of me. Theses habits are now helping me achieve my 5th goal on my list.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”. Aristotle
Do this for yourself
I mentioned earlier that you always feel you’re never ready to start. And if you are like me, you are tired of feel good articles.
I don’t want this to be just another feel good post. I want you to take this post and use it as a call to action for yourself.
Put a calendar where you can see it when you wake up in the morning. I like to use 2 colored markers: red and blue. When you wake up draw a red circle on that day meaning “I have this planned today”. This sets up your mind in a state where you always have it on the back of your head that you need to achieve it. This way you adjust your plans for the day accordingly. I started reading 15 minutes a day. That was my pain period. Then I increased bit by bit until 2 hours of reading now just fly. Before you go to bed use the blue marker to check inside the red circle the goal for the day as done. Once you start practicing your habit consistently you will see it will become automatic until you don’t need serious willpower to do it anymore.
Share this with a friend so you can help each other track your progress.
If your goals seem too big start with something smaller so you have a reference in place. Once you start you will see how everything will have a snowballing effect. You will always be moving forward.
I’m genuinely curious and excited for you.