How I (easily) motivated myself

In the face of a hectic schedule, motivation sometimes falters, and one may wonder why they have to have such a busy life. A simple mental exercise helped me shrink my problems to a much more manageable size. (so I can continue working on amazing things!)

this bear is so tired

Late at night, as I contemplated the enormous remaining portion of an Image Processing assignment, the old compromise came to mind. “It’s only 10 percent of my mark — at the very worst, I can only come out 10 percent down here. If I need it, ultimately, I should go to sleep.”

These are dangerous words, because they sound wise. They take a parental tone – “do what is best for you”, but all they really offer is justification for you to drop the ball.

unfortunate tiredness

My motivational insight came from my next thought, which was, “As long as I pass my courses, I’ll have my 70 GPA.” I worked this out a few days ago – if my average across all remaining courses meets or exceeds approximately 51%, I will reach convocation. That’s not something to be proud of, per se – my GPA is soberingly mediocre – it simply takes the pressure off. I know that I haven’t got to be up working on this. I could slack if I really wanted to. Therein lies the trick!

This isn’t work if it doesn’t have to be done. If I’m not doing this “because I have to”, I’m doing this “because I want to”, and suddenly I’m a lot more interested. Weight lifts from my shoulders, I’m less tired, and I remember that I really enjoy mathematics and solving hard problems. This is a really fun assignment, and I’m glad that I’m spending the time to work on it. Regardless of how it turns out for a grade, I’m going to try my best and learn something. That’s what matters.

You can try this too. If you find yourself in a corner, where you’re stressed and you can sense a failure approaching, you might start thinking about giving up. First, step back and seek perspective.

How much will a failure ultimately matter? In ten years, will you look back and be upset about this? If not, then you know this is not something required; this is not something that is absolutely needed, and once you know that, you have control over it. You can choose to forget about it or to keep on, and once you’re not being pushed, you’re likely find it much easier to proceed.

Just to note: I’m aware that this isn’t some ‘new idea’. There is almost certainly a named psychological effect at work here, and I just happen to have experienced it lucidly enough to provide an explication; I think it’s a useful thought to share.

One thought on “How I (easily) motivated myself

  1. Neat article, I’m looking forward to trying it out! That makes a lot of sense.

    In fact, I’m in just that kind of a scenario right now, so this is perfect timing. 🙂

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