Tomorrow is a very useful day. We often use the future to make us feel better about ourselves. It seems that everything can wait until tomorrow. But what happens when we get to tomorrow? Well, I guess it never comes. All we ever have is a series of todays.
The best way to increase your chances of going to the gym tomorrow is to go to the gym today. Motivation comes from doing the very thing we need the motivation to do. Behaviour leads to behaviour, and so any new discipline or goal that we want to achieve simply requires us to start.
Our understanding of the world is made up of maps and mental structures. We know what to do and how to behave in the future. This is created from our mind’s ability to conceive new perceptions into already existing maps (stereotypes, social roles, scripts, worldviews, and archetypes).
All our new experiences draw upon previous experience to help perceive, frame and understand what is happening to us. We are able to make sense of things even if we’ve never before had direct experience of the thing in question. The key is that we can’t act outside of ourselves. We bring to EVERY encounter a set of assumptions, worldviews, stereotypes and experiences that make up a huge proportion of HOW we perceive the ‘new’ thing.
We are motivated by ourselves. It might feel like someone else is motivating us to do something, but if their technique works it is no more than them tapping into our previous experience, a framework which already exists within us. The motivator simply inspires us to access them. When we feel a sense of motivation, it is past experiences, old feelings, and sweeping detail-less archetypes that stir within and draw us to act. The anticipated results and dreams happen within these schematic frameworks.
Less Requires More
When we do less we often become less self-motivated and vice versa. Our lives can spiral because of this.
We require other people and things, to motivate us. This is partly why we believe things like gadgets and apps will help us be more productive, and reading books or going to conferences will inspire us to act. The truth is, a lot of the time the only thing buying apps will ensure, is that we get hooked into buying even more apps and keeping up to date with them. The only thing reading books about productivity will ensure is that we read more and more, and we will become obsessed with travelling to conferences to get another hit from another motivational speech. But we will probably never actually get round to doing what we required that motivation hit to do in the first place.
Motivation Starts Within
If motivation doesn’t start within us then it falls short of us when we look for it.
This is why it’s no good having huge goals for our lives and no plan. We can create our own schematic framework for our dreams. It requires lots of small steps, broken down into immediately acheivable goals. In a restaurant we don’t think about asking for the bill until we’ve first: sat down, browsed the menu, ordered, and eaten. We essentially know where the experience will end, or at least hope it will turn out the way we expect, but we have to go through a series of steps to get there – we are not there in order to pay the bill, that is simply how it ends and the point at which we can move on.
Everything we do is done through a similar systemic framework. That’s all our daily routine is, and it’s why it’s so hard to motivate ourselves to do something extraordinary that we have no guiding structure for.
But we can change that.
We can prepare ourselves to go somewhere new by consciously and deliberately planning how to get there. We have the amazing ability to adapt to change when it’s inflicted from external sources, and so often, remarkable things happen when tragic situations and shock events reshape peoples’ perception of reality. These experiences can shake up the structural framework of our perspective and change the way we see everything from that point on. Similarly we have the ability to create these experiences for ourselves too. We have imagination. We have art. We have language. These things can totally reshape our schematic understandings of what’s possible and move within us a recognition of our own potential.
We’re very good at dreaming big. What we’re not so good at is getting alongside our friends and family in their big dreams and helping one another develop new frameworks that will make our dreams reality. So many dreams remain unconnected to their source (us) because the tracks between here and there are never laid, and so we go on with unfulfilled dreams and a heavy sense of what never became.
What do you want to start? Can you do it today? If not why not? If yes, then do it.