1. The Negative Motivator
This character is the mother of all procrastination.
In essence, the Negative Motivator only gets you off the couch because you create a scenario in your head where continuing to put it off becomes so horrible that you are pushed to take action. This approach is painful, exhausting, and time-consuming. It is also unsustainable, because you will be unlikely to consistently take action with this approach.
Sustainability is essential, because great outcomes are the result of consistent action taken over a long enough period of time.
2. The Dictator
Seen in the example above, The Dictator gives you stern orders, much like a military commander.
Do you regularly use words like “must”, “have to”, and “should”? The problem with this voice is, again, the lack of sustainability. Think back to the teacher you had growing up who was strict beyond reason. What happened when they gave you orders?
In all likelihood, you gave them the bare minimum each time. You didn’t respect them enough to do the work on your own, and surely weren’t motivated to go the extra mile. In that way, using the dictator strategy is a repeat of what you once did to that teacher, except now you are doing it to yourself.
3. The Masochist
All human behavior is the result of one of two things: seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. You’ll make choices that reflect your goals when the pain of not taking action exceeds the level of pain you associate with getting the work done.
The Masochist is the one you’re calling on when you focus on (and overanalyze) the painful details of the work you’ll be doing. The truth is, if your goal is worth achieving, there will be difficult times. That’s a given. But if it’s all you focus on, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Instead of focusing on the 5-mile run, focus on the end result and the feelings of accomplishment you will experience after your workout. Said another way, focus on the pleasure you’ll receive from completing the task instead of the pain you’ll experience during the grind.
This motivation strategy is another good reminder that what you focus on expands.
4. The Overwhelm-er
This is the character called on by people who focus on the cumulative amount of work they must complete in order to achieve the whole project. Thousands of hours, minutes, reps, emails, and conversations. Years of hard work to get where you’d like to go.
If you’re totally clear on what you want and why, this might work for you. But if not, it’s a recipe for disaster, as the feeling of overwhelm can be extremely discouraging in the long run.
Defeat this motivation strategy by remembering that you will inevitably be forced to break the work up into bite-sized chunks.
So now that we’ve covered the four characters you don’t want to let command your thoughts, whatshould you do, then?
Heed the Wise Old Man: The voice of lasting motivation
The wise old man inisde of you appears when your values, your goals, and the people in your life are in alignment. The wise old man is a synonym of following your heart.
Gone are the days where you force yourself to do things in a manner that doesn’t make sense to you. There is a reason you are feeling resistance, and it’s not because you are incapable of achieving your goal. Something is off, and it might simply be the approach you’re taking. After all, how do you know it’s the right way? When you choose the path of least resistance, you stop worrying about things that don’t matter. Your journey is unique, and so is the voice inside your head.
Read this loud and clear: the Wise Old Man won’t give you a darn thing if you don’t put in the work. He can only be wise when you’re actively on the path to your goals. But when you set your sails in one direction and start putting the pedal to the grindstone, you can be sure that he’ll be there to talk you through it.