Magic Motivation Bullets

Earlier this week I was thinking: I need a big dose of motivation! When I’m in good shape for research and writing, I can get a ton of work done; but when I’m exhausted, feeling resentful and unsupported, getting my butt in my office chair at 10pm after a long day can be a real bitch.

Sooo, along comes this handy little post on Lifehacker (reposted from Pick the Brain, a website I’ve never visited…) with three basic questions about motivation.

  1. Why do I want to achieve this? – (Write down 5 reasons why you HAVE to get it done.)
  2. How will I feel when I have overcome every obstacle and achieved the goal? (Get in touch with how amazing it will feel.)
  3. What will it cost me in 10 years time if I give up? (Really feel the pain associated with how your life will suffer in the future.)

I’m not going to spell out in this public space why I want to complete this degree. My goals used to be too closely linked with my self-image, which meant my struggles felt like deeply personal symptoms of failure on a very basic level—never a good place to be. And as a result, that meant feedback, no matter how well expressed or kindly given, felt like biting criticisms.

I will say that the process of visualizing the emotional result of achieving my goal (and, conversely, the emotional result of how I’ll feel if I don’t complete this goal) are strong motivators for me. I’ve always been a strong feeler, maybe even too much of a feeler and not enough of a thinker. Now, however, I am beginning to feel not just the desire to be in the spotlight, but also the confidence to handle it reasonably well.

I wish I could identify incentives that await me after I finish my thesis; this would make it easier for me to stay motivated on such a large project. There are few jobs in my field and few post-docs for which I’m eligible. Blurgh.

N.B. I heard the idea of motivation bullets from the authors of Freakonomics, who write about incentives as magic bullets to get people do do things. Leave it to the Americans to use gun metaphors!!

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