In this post, a younger me outlines four methods for ‘tricking’ self into action. It almost makes me chuckle. I am gonna try at least one of these methods today and see if it will push me to action, or whether I am desensitized in entirety. In summary the methods are: The Buddhist Way, The Odysseus Way, The Associative Way and The Bribe.
I sit up at 23:30 on a Tuesday night to write this. I amsupposed to be reading for an exam I have at 9:00am tomorrow morning, but sadly so I have got absolutely nomotivation to read. This brings me to one very important point. How do you get yourself to do something when you don’t want to?
The answer is very simple. It is impossible. Let me rephrase this, a more correct and helpful answer to that question will be, “Dude, you are asking the wrong question!” Why do I say that? I say that because, the human mind is conditioned to function only based on desire or perceived importance of the activity concerned. We will hardly ever do anything we don’t want to do, except of course, we are given some sort of reason to.
The question to be asked then is, how do you make yourself to do something which you know you should do, which at the same time you hardly feel like doing.
While writing this sentiment out, I actually realise something. Once a man has addressed this issue in his life, he is very well on his way to achieving at hisoptimum.
Knowing what to do is rarely the problem with humans. While we aren’t being dictated to by social dictum, we have personal desire, religious doctrine, values gotten from parents and elders in society to add bullets to our list of “Things to do or be screwed!”
So what’s a brother to do? What is a man to do? To surmount his inherent inertia, to do those things which he must do, even when he feels like he’d rather not.
I have these ways to suggest.
- The Buddhist Way (Not to feel anything)
This approach is hardly the answer I seek this night. Anyway, by not feeling any need, we eliminate the pressure that we are under. For instance, a certain John Doe is my course mate, and he has the same exam tomorrow. However, his doctor tells him tonight that he has a terminal illness, and he will die in a forth night. Given that he takes the word of Dr. Doomsday as definitive and unchangeable, the need to write this exam will probably be wiped off his mental slate. This is what is referred to as a paradigm shift. So you decide not to feel anything, by feeding yourself with stimulus to prompt it. The problem with this method is that you need a really strong paradigm shift to be adequately spurred to action. At times, providing yourself with strong enough stimulus may be rather difficult or ineffective. Speaking with a friend or colleague who is known to be a rebel, with or without cause, can help move you in the direction of not feeling anything regarding the task you have to accomplish, and make you not care about accomplishing it any more.
It may also help if you know others close by or far away who have decided not to care about a similar goal, without any obvious consequences. The next question will be the validity of the source of your paradigm shift. The most important thing is that YOU believe your source to be valid. Perception is primary, a friend once said. So, just as long as you can convince yourself the source of the information leading you to a paradigm shift is legitimate, you are good to go… literally.
If letting go is not an option, like in my case. Then you must find some way to get yourself to want to get busy. You must provide yourself with a reason to get active. I am gonna mention some cheap psychological tricks I think might work in the interim, while I also look at ways to handle this problem in the long run.
- The Odysseus Way (Self deceit towards the goal, a euphemism would be self handling).
In some cases, it might be possible to trick yourself into doing what you are not supposed to do. You can do this by telling yourself a definite untruth, wrapped in a seductive package or bargain. Let me expatiate. For anyone who has seen Troy, great screenplay by the way, the only way the invading Greeks were able to get into Troy was by using the Trojan Horse ruse. The method of self deceit goes a little like this, you convince yourself that that very act you do not feel like doing is what is standing between you and your goal. The goal must be real and important to you for this to work. If you are able to come up with a logical connection between the act and a long term goal, that goal can be the horse with which you sneak in that activity into your “hardened” heart, aka Troy. This method can hardly work for me tonight, because for every connection I try to make between reading and a goal I have, there always seems to be an out. Ok, I think its working…
14 Hours and One Exam Later…
Well, the Odysseus way seems to have worked pretty well for me, the exam turned out rather great. I have got two more in a couple of hours, but I feel so thankful for this post, the least courtesy I can pay is to complete it!
Lemme look into a few other ways I think I might have been able to get myself to get my hands dirty.
Let me try to highlight the problems I faced with this method, and how I got past them. The main problem is finding a real connection between the task you want to handle, and a burning desire or goal you have. The goal must be strong enough on one hand, while the connection has to be more than flimsy on the other hand. You should be able to see in clearly cut out steps, how achieving that singular task might lead up to the achievement of your goal. As long as you can find that goal, the key is to tell yourself over and over again, each time you feel that retarding force while in the act. It is slightly more effective than promising yourself delayed gratification. This is because the concept has been devalued in most minds and the long term benefit, might seem a bit to far off to be real to most people. This is why placing a goal which is present in the short term or near term will prove more effective. Its talking about getting a large slice of cake, not getting the whole cake, which might be more difficult to fathom.
- The Associative Way (Surround yourself with other’s who are striving for the same goal and let their actions be inspiration to you)
Intrinsically, human beings are born with a desire to compete. Whether it is a fruit of our burgeoning egos or a consequence from the race against millions that brought each one of us here (except of course, for our artificially inseminated consociates), we often find that need to measure up in the presence of our peers. The principle of this method of self coercion is to seek out persons who are already actively striving towards a goal you want to achieve and using them as coaches to achieving the same or a similar goal personally. This has to be borne of a desire to learn and to teach, to assist and to be assisted and is a truly symbiotic relationship. Working with people can prove more tricky and pestilent than assembling nuclear weapons, so to function in such a condition, you need to have a good set of people skills. The problems you might encounter with this method may include any of the following. First of all, the difficulty of finding people who are genuinely striving for a similar goal. We find out often that people who we imagine to be striving for similar goals as we are, from a distance, are actually not at all, when we see them up close. Other times, these people we have placed our hope in may not be as discerning as we imagined them to be. This is an immediate deal breaker, because, it is impossible to be influenced by someone you do not respect. Whether the individual meets all the criteria, hardly matters though, the point is that such a person must meet enough criteria to retain your respect, and to contribute positively towards you achieving your personal (or group) objectives. Another problem with this method is negative competition, and a compulsion to deride the attempts of others in an attempt to heighten your opinion of yourself. We must learn to have the right attitudes to group activity and synergy, or else, association will prove to be more damaging than reparative.
- The Bribe (Offer yourself a reward for accomplishing the task)
This is a method I used to use a lot a while back, but I noticed an undisputable paradox. If you do not have the self discipline to give your time to accomplish a goal without too much internal resistance, then do you possess the internal resistance to refuse yourself a reward even when you rightly do not deserve it? In other words, if you are undisciplined enough, no reward you could give yourself would be enough incentive to do anything other than what lazy old you would do, which is usually nothing! If you have a close friend or a girlfriend that can be made to offer you incentive in form of a reward, and hold it back if you fail to meet the target, it might be more reasonable. But if you will be your own defendant, accuser, judge and prison, the case is closed before it even starts. For some others, this might work. Especially for people who are able to exercise great discipline in other areas of their life. I noticed that it didn’t really matter what I promised myself, how I threatened myself, nothing happened!
The possible problem with this method is your capacity to be objective in your appraisal of success, as well as the integrity to deny yourself the reward when you are found wanting. If you have another individual involved, it is better not to pick someone who you can easily cajole or convince. Any individual that chooses to assist must also be willing to monitor your progress in some way. Physical presence of the person to give the reward is non negotiable if you plan to achieve with this plan.
This is getting really long so I am gonna break it into two parts or more. so watch out.Lets continue the conversation on twitter... Follow @agogodavid