Discipline and Motivation - help?

Postby Anonymous_Person_One » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:35 pm

Indecision, lack of motivation, lack of discipline. These are my demons and I am here to ask how to slay them.

Honestly, it feels dumb to write this so I apologize if this is a waste of anyone's time... I feel there's people out there with much graver problems than my own and I am an adult when these would appear to be the problems of a child but, they are my problems, nonetheless. From my point of view, I am not in any kind of real trouble that I can see. I’m meeting or exceeding expectations at work, have a six-figure income, my relationship with my wife, family and friends are excellent, I’m living well below my means saving half my income, I'm studying to finish my bachelors with a 4.0 GPA and at 30 I'm relatively young. However, I have realized that in order to continue growth I need help.

Every day I face my worst enemy, myself, and lose. Every night I go to bed defeated only to wake in the morning to lose the same battle. I spend most of my days at home being barely if at all productive (I dedicate maybe 2-4 hours a day to anything productive, currently I work & study) compared to what I could really do with my time, I could be making three times as much money if I applied myself or be working towards certain certifications and licenses that could increase my income, or studying one of many subjects that I'd like to learn. Instead, I spend most of my time either playing video games (a life-long on-and-off again addiction) or on social media.

I know everything I need to do to achieve the goals I have set for myself. I’ve laid the plan out in my head multiple times. I’ve also begun execution of these plans on multiple occasion, but I never go past doing what is necessary to maintain my comfort zone. I am unable to motivate myself or muster the discipline necessary to achieve my goals. It’s not that I’ve never done this, I’ve achieved multiple milestones in my life. However, the comfort zone was not present when any those milestones were achieved.

So, my question to you is… how do you find motivation? Have any of you faced these same circumstances and beat them? How did you break the inertia? Any suggestions on overcoming this problem and continuing to move forward would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time and suggestions.
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Jun 03, 2019 5:22 am

Anonymous_Person_One wrote:However, I have realized that in order to continue growth I need help.


When your age I experienced similar struggles. At your age I was starting my PhD. To this day, if I’m honest, there are moments when I still struggle. Similar to you, I achieved and was able to maintain motivation as long as there was some extrinsic pressure that kept me moving forward.

When I began to work for myself, when I controlled 100% of my time, when there was no longer a parent, a boss, social pressure, or an external deadline to meet, then it became difficult to maintain motivation and self-discipline.

I needed help in order to continue to grow. But, it is not what you think.

Look at your goals. Pardon my being a bit blunt, but your goals are all superficial, ego driven, hogwash. Your making six figures at age 30 and that isn’t enough? You want more certifications, skills to earn even more money? No wonder you need help. You need help realizing that your goals are jacked.

Two things that helped me:

-1- There is and will always be this imagined “ideal” self. Where you are today, the current you, will never, ever, ever, ever be good enough. There will always be a better you in your mind, capable of accomplishing more, more, more. The needle will always be moved and eventually this inability to ever reach the ever moving “ideal” ends up in low motivation. It ends up in disappointment and escape into less than productive endeavors, into finding comfort in mind numbing activities that give you a shot of dopamine, like video games and social media.

STOP. Read some philosophy, read some Seneca, read some books on chasing material wealth, read some books on the need to be liked or social accepted, etc. That is how you grow. You don’t grow by figuring out how to be motivated as to make more money. You grow by learning that making more money is not a very motivating purpose in life.

-2- Finding intrinsic purpose. It is natural to want to contribute, to help, to feel like you have purpose in life, that what you do has value. What is it that you want to do, just for the sake of doing it? Maybe, just for the sake of doing it, for what will make you feel like life has value, is to provide other people with the most delicious bread. Maybe you have an artistic side. Maybe you enjoy the feeling of helping a person navigate their finances.

It sounds like you are not passionate about your line of work. While profitable, it isn’t something you intrinsically enjoy. This reduces your productivity drastically, resulting in the 2-4 hours. A person that truly enjoys the value they offer the world does not try to make more money, they try to serve more people, to perfect their craft. Money is a pleasurable side effect of doing what they love.

You didn’t post specifics regarding your career/study, but it might be time to reevaluate the path you are on. If it is a grind, if it is hard work and you don’t enjoy what you are doing then it is hard to find the motivation.

Of course, no matter what contribution or purpose you enjoy, it can become a grind and that is where discipline kicks in. When discipline is required, I recommend breaking down goals into smaller “chunks” that are actionable. You stop day dreaming about the big mountain you want to climb, and get disciplined and focused on just hiking the next few hundred meters. Like any other goal, you create milestones that become the primary focus. This tends to work, because it is easier to maintain shorter bursts of discipline than to sustain a lower state of discipline forever. Discipline requires effort, which requires energy, which means by default discipline is to be focused.

Me...over seven years ago I sold everything and began traveling the world while working online. I don’t make the money I could, but I get to pursue what I enjoy and live a lifestyle that is meaningful. I’m just finishing up 4 months in Zhangjiagang, China and will head to San Francisco in two weeks for a conference on “Naturalistic Decision-Making.”

Like you, I want to continue to grow. But, I think we have different definitions of what “growth” means. I understand your definition, because at your age I was there as well. I urge you to reconsider.
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