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How to find motivation? Some useful advice for life and work

Ogni volta che si avvicinano le feste di Natale divento triste e apatico. No, no tranquilli, lo scopo di questo articolo non è cercare insieme a voi le ragioni dello stato d’animo in cui mi ritrovo automaticamente tutti gli anni: il vero scopo di questo articolo – che, detto tra noi, ho fatto moltissima fatica a iniziare proprio perché la mia motivazione in questi giorni è ridotta all’osso – è affrontare i temi dell’apatia, della mancanza di motivazione e dell’abitudine a procastinare.
20 Dicembre 2022

Whether it’s preparing for an exam, starting a project, looking for a job or starting a training program that requires a certain consistency … there are forces within us that always push us to postpone the start.

And we know how to do it very well, or rather, our brain can do it very well.

It’s not the right time yet
I’m not ready yet
I haven’t achieved the necessary preparation to deal with this thing
Better to wait for this unfavorable period to pass
I’ll do it when I’m calmer

…and I could go on like this for who knows how long.

The truth is that that perfect moment, the one in which all the variables that you believe can influence the outcome are in the right place, will never come, because it doesn’t exist.

Theodore Roosevelt said:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

and it is a lesson in realism and pragmatism that perfectly expresses the mental setting with which we should face our goals.

The economic crisis, the war, the rising prices… let’s stop focusing on the context, let’s focus on our actions but above all on our intentions.

More and more young people, and I have been able to verify this personally, would prefer a lower salary, scarce career opportunities and a job they objectively do not like, in order to have a permanent job close to home.
This speaks volumes about the distortion we have of the concept of well-being, not to mention the fact that we are repeating the exact same mistakes of the previous generation.

If you can do things right, try to do them better.
Be bold, be first, be different, be right.

Said the entrepreneur and environmental activist Anita Roddick

Another major obstacle is the totally wrong interpretation we have of failure.

Failure is a fundamental process towards the construction of a goal… and it is not a cliché, it is not a way to justify it or to sweeten the pill towards those who are “used” to fail: it really is so and there are reasons logics.

Failure draws the boundaries of the right path, failure represents your ability to go further, to experience, to understand and to intuit.

Failure is an attitude, a fundamental prerequisite for a journey.

It’s not about accepting failure, it’s about accepting failure: expect failure, welcome it with open arms, taking everything from it.

We take from failure all the teaching it can give us, because there is no other way to learn.

“I haven’t failed,” Thomas Edison said some time after inventing the light bulb, “I’ve just tried 10,000 methods that didn’t work.”

Then there is another great enemy that silently opposes the success of our goals: time.
Perhaps even more than the fear of failure, we fear the weather.
The expiry date is something that paralyzes us with terror, the fear of “not making time to…”.

Indeed, even I, who am an extremely competitive person (even in board games!) I always want to do better and before the others. However, I’ve never seen it as a negative thing: I think it’s simply ambition, a sort of challenge but above all with myself.

In practice, I “use” others to calibrate my degree of effectiveness towards a goal, but then the final comparison is always with myself, or rather with the “me” of the past. Am I better than a year ago? Have I made any progress since a year ago? In the end, these are the answers that matter…

And here is the key to “defeating” the fear of time: it is unthinkable to compare ourselves to others in the process of achieving a certain goal. It would be conceivable in a laboratory situation, where ALL external conditions are identical and where all subjects are equal.

As I said, what really matters, in my opinion, is the comparison with ourselves.

Have you made any progress since a year ago? What about two, three or five?

If you are still there, if you are still there… something is wrong, and therefore there is something to change, probably everything.

If, on the other hand, you record even just a small step forward, ask yourself what caused it and think if there is a way to speed up the process.

A bit like what happened to me today, to write this article, departure is often the worst moment.

So let’s simply learn to get started.

We think about our goal and the actions to be taken to achieve it. If what we see scares us, if we feel like we’re being overwhelmed by it, then let’s break it down into mini-goals.

We bring everything back to actions that seem more within our reach, or that we can achieve in a shorter time.

And if, again, our mind proves to be smarter than us, in finding excuses and formulating deceptions to make us believe that “not starting at all” is the best strategy to adopt… well then let’s use its own weapons and trick it: let’s associate the unpleasant activity, or one that we simply don’t want to undertake, with something that makes us feel good… in my case listening to metal music helps a lot, but I’m sure that each of us can find a way to make an activity more pleasant.

When we are about to start it, let’s focus on it, it will be more difficult for our brain to find strategies that convince us to postpone the start.

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