How NOT to Motivate Yourself

Punishment is not the way!

In Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl. (pg 103)

He has a tool called. “Make failure extremely painful”.

In the example for the tool he writes a $1000 check to an employee who stole from him. He hates the guy but he also wrote a letter of apology to him.

Then he sealed it in an envelope, stamped it, addressed it and gave it to a friend to mail off if he didn’t finish the first draft of his book by a certain time.

The thought of that letter getting mailed off was so painful that he worked like crazy to get the draft done.

He created a situation where his core beliefs where on the line.

If he didn’t succeed there were consequences that went against everything he believed.

Was it motivating for him? Yes.

Is this the worst way to get motivated? I think so!

Too often we use extreme punishment to give us the willpower we need to overcome a bad habit or start a new one.

But what we’re actually doing is making clear distinctions.

Like in Tim Grahl’s example a distinction between his core beliefs and the exact opposite.

Or a clear distinction between the pain of doing and not doing.

It’s like noticing that life was really good only when everything has gone terribly wrong.

Too often we hear of great achievement only reached on the other side of loss or misery.

Then we feel that we need that pain and misery to achieve the same.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

Life already has its own host of negative consequences. We don’t need to add more.

Instead of passing through the negative just to get to the positive we can get right to the positive.

For example. If I don’t paint for years I’m not a painter. The consequence is already built in.

Let’s say you want to get back to drawing every day.

So you set up some awful consequence for when you don’t draw.

You’ve created a real life game, that you can stop any time, based on punishment.

Then you inevitably fail, or fall short.

Why the hell would you want to continue?

Your always doing the bare minimum just to avoid the punishment so you end up with mediocrity in a habit that your supposed to love and then even more hatred is associated with this habit when you don’t measure up.

There is no chance for longevity in this situation.

And in most cases you would end up resenting the practice.

It’s like a gazelle being chased by a lion.

Do you think all the gazelles get together and run for fun. They don’t have gazelle Olympics.

No the gazelle only runs as long as it takes to get away from being killed then it stops running.

They do the bare minimum, to avoid the pain.

This is proven later in Tim Grah’s book when he talks about not touching his writing for months after writing the first draft.

Back to you.

Give some thought about some games of punishment your playing with yourself.

How can you get right to the positive?

In the next post we’ll talk about ways to build motivation for creative habits that are based in positivity.

Chris Beaven

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