Zero Motivation: Part 1

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.”

James Altucher

Why is it that the things we want to do most are the things we feel the least motivated to do?

It’s not as if we don’t have the desire or the ability. It’s not like we have to do chores or errands. It feels much easier to mow the lawn and run to Walgreens than it is to sit down and bleeping create something, like working on your book or practicing your music.

We want to do it. We dream about being great at it. And yet we do everything but. Steven Pressfield calls this The Resistance. A force within us is doing everything in its power to stop us from practicing our art.

I think the reason we often have zero motivation to get up and create is that we want it too badly. We tell ourselves we need to do it. We know we should be practicing. We build it up so much in our minds it feels too massive and difficult to start.

In this series of posts, I’ll discuss a few solutions I’ve found that have worked for me. At this

Solution #1: Start Small.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

Henry Ford

Do one tiny thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it’s. Think of it as a motivation warm up. Trying to go from couch to flat out sprint isn’t going to go well. We’ve got to warm up our muscles first. The same is true for any practice or activity, not just exercise.

Go small. Start by setting a ridiculously tiny goal. (I think I might have stolen this concept from Tim Ferriss. Thanks, Tim.) The lowest of the low hanging fruits. Instead of “practice guitar for an hour every day” reduce it “If I pick up my guitar from it stands and hold it, I’ve won today.” Instead of “write five pages of my novel” change it to “If I get out my notebook and pen (or if I open up my writing app) I’ve won today.” Or replace “go on a five-mile walk” with “Put on my tennis shoes and workout clothes.”

If I want to learn something, I’ll look for one video, not a hundred. I’ll find one good book and work my way through it. If I want to practice something, I start small but leave room for big.

That’s it. Make it as easy as possible. Because it’s so easy and silly to just pick up our guitar, well, now that we’re holding it, we might as well strum a little right?

An alternate approach is to build momentum through physical movement. Let’s say you are trying to motivate yourself to draw, but you can’t quite pull yourself away from your phone to do it. Instead of immediately trying to jump into drawing, start with tidying up your desk to draw. Clean your entire room if you feel the urge to. Sure, you’re spending a lot of time not drawing, but that’s okay. Remember, this is just the warm-up. What we are doing is trying to switch ourselves from relax mode to create mode.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #895

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