Good afternoon! I’m slowly working my way back towards having blogs published twice a week. Preferably on Mondays and Wednesdays. The blogs I write have different themes. From environmentalism to literature, I always enjoy having a variety of subjects to cover.
This post will focus on a question I’ve been asking myself for the past month. What is it, that stalls personal progress? Is it motivation or self-discipline. Let’s dive into some of the ways I got to where I am today.
By the way, I’d like for you to notice the photos attached in this blog. They are a series of photos I’ve taken over the past month, showing the evolution of learning and writing spaces. Still learning to see which style works me me.
Header photo taken last year, while I was preparing for 2017 NaNoWriMo.
Motivation, by my definition, is when a feeling is built around the need to accomplish something. Humans are natural problem solvers, is a fun subject I’ve learned via TED Talks. For some, motivation can help with doing something we may not want to do now, in replace with something we want to do later.
A solid example to talk about is ways we’ve learned to work around chores as children. What if you were asked to do dishes and your reward was having a sweet treat? Wouldn’t you, therefore, be motivated to finish the dishes for your treat?
The biggest downside to this learning habit as children, is that we develop something even I tend to struggle with daily: procrastination. While I don’t plan on covering the meanings around procrastination, but it has to be at least mentioned.
And after we’ve learned, as children, to do the chores we eventually arrive at a down point. If I don’t feel motivated anymore by the simplest rewards- why am I doing the dishes? Parents might then try the approach of giving the treat first then the chore. That doesn’t last long either (again, procrastination appears).
As time wears on, self-discipline is introduced. I will return to this chore example in the subject matter of self-discipline. Where does motivation come from?
As a writer, I have found that this motivational feeling (not emotion) arrives in different forms. For most, motivation shows when a deadline is near. Or, when a fun vacation is on the horizon. But have you ever felt motivated in the middle of doing a mundane task or assignment? The other day, I was feeling motivated with educational learning and I was able to continue working at a steady pace with my studying.
There’s a short list of negative reactions to motivation. Accomplishing one task over another, even when they may be both due at the same time. Rushing through that task, even if it was a spark of motivation that brought you to that task. And finally, when the motivational feeling arrives and you let it burn out on its own, without doing anything about it.
My example of letting motivation fizzle away, is one that rarely occurs for me. Let’s say you are at home making dinner and you are motivated to meditate. Would you pause your cooking to meditate, or would you find a way to meditate and cook? While stopping the cooking process to meditate for a few minutes might be difficult, you might find a way to preserve the feeling, or to remind yourself that you’ve been motivated once that day to meditate.
How do keep that feeling? Current answer: unknown.
So is it motivation that hinders progress? I would argue that it does, because the lack of motivation can lead to procrastination.
Ah, the subject matter I used to be quite well at during my high school days. As someone who was involved in several service organizations and band, I always found a way to have self-discipline to go to school, followed by practice sessions and homework. During my first semesters of attending college, most of that self-discipline went out the window.
This is, personally, one that I have been working on all year to maintain. What is my definition of self-discipline? It’s setting a schedule and keeping it consistent. If I scheduled my morning routine’s to have several steps, then I should follow those steps- even when I do not feel like waking up an hour and a half before I need to leave for work.
Recall the children’s chore example I gave in the previous discussion on motivation. By my teen years, I was against doing the dishes. I had, however, built a self-discipline routine to set my schedule up the Sunday of that week. And eventually, doing the dishes worked its way into my weekly to-do list items. That didn’t occur until I couple of years ago.
-Ironically, washing the dishes is on my to-do list for this evening.-
Self-Discipline requires internal strength, even after you may or may not feel like doing that task. Here’s where the two subject matters intertwine:
Motivation can lead to self-discipline. More commonly, self-discipline can lead to motivation.
For writers, this is the ideal that setting a certain small block of time dedicated to crafting ideas may help with the increase of motivation to write out a story or dialogue. On Twitter, I see daily debates on writing daily vs. writing every few days. I’m in the camp that you don’t have to write every day. Life gets in the way a majority of the time.
I am, however, a big proponent of using mental energy to accomplish writing, or to generate ideas. While finding the time to write something down in lengthy paragraphs may seem a stretch, I always suggest just writing down ideas on sticky notes or keeping them on your notes section of your smart phone or computer.
This idea has started to work well during class time. I have a tendency to drift off (mentally) away from the lecture, as my brain reminds me of off- beat lists, words to look up, etc. During class, I will keep a small sheet of paper of random things that popped in my brain. Once a couple of weeks ago, I continuously wrote down the word “FOOD” in all capital letters several times. After class I went and bought a small meal. The fact that I wrote FOOD five times makes me chuckle. That’s where my focus was.
Is it self-discipline that can hinder progress? Yes. If you stop doing simple daily tasks, doesn’t your ability to start again take time? Self-discipline, just like motivation, can allow procrastination to creep in. And, allow projects to take longer than needed.
If you’ve dedicated Tuesdays and Thursdays to working out, and on week five you don’t feel like it, don’t let those feelings stop you from working out. Go do the thing, even if its only a hour. Something I learned this week.
Monthly goal setting: Create a small set of goals in different categories (academic, writing/blogging/creativity, mental health, physical health,etc.). Let these three simple goals be the basics of what you need to accomplish for that week. Make realistic yet attainable goals.
Example: For writing, my goal is to create two blog posts a week.
Weekly goal setting: Now, take a smaller look at what you’d like to accomplish this week. I use an index card and write out five basic goals for the week. For me, those are usually reminders to: Smile, Breathe deeply, ex nihilo, and to remind myself of self-care.
Ex nihilo, a mythological term I’ve learned this semester, is the simple act of creating something out of nothing. Like taking a simple creative idea, and working it out in context- whether that’s through writing, art, music, or other platforms.
Daily schedule: We break it down one more step. Write out your schedule for the day, say the night before. Again, I use index cards. Note: leave room for unexpected events. Here’s an ideal daily schedule for me (on non-school days):
Morning routine @ 4 AM
Leave the house @ 5:30 AM
Chill time at work 6-6:20 AM
Work (be kind, please) 6:30 AM – 12:30 PM (sometimes 3:00 PM)
-Email Check/Random To-Do list item
-Playtime with Jupiter (my newly adopted cat)
Boston Red Sox game @ 6:10 PM
Night time routine @ 8 PM
Below are a list of blogs I’ve written over the year, that could help with similar subject matters:
This blog post was fun to write today. It was on my list of blogs to create. I hope you find this insightful as well as- ironically- motivational. 😉
Thank you for reading today’s blog post. What are some of your favorite ways to allow motivation into your life? Let me know in the comments below! As always, you can follow me here on WordPress for more blogs to nurture the human spirit.