26 December 2014

Hafiz Adewuyi

On motivation

This morning, a public holiday, where I really do not have an elaborate plan of what to achieve today, I find that I'm up from bed really early. As usual, I was woken by the sound of my phone alarm. Realizing it was a free day, I did not move a muscle. Instead, I proceeded to continue with my sleep till I felt more ready to wake. However, before long, a picture of my pile of dirty laundry, waiting to be done crept into my mind. This was all that was needed to get me flying out of bed.

I was soon done loading the washing machine with the last set of laundry, after which I headed outside to spread the previous batch for drying. During this monotonous exercise, I pondered on the events of the past few minutes. To attain progress on a relatively simplistic goal as "Get your laundry done", I had enthusiastically sacrificed a great deal of my comfort. I went on to contrast it with how no other thing, even my teeming personal goals would have been able to have this same effect on me. It's near certain that I would have remained in bed for at least, an hour longer, had it not been that I had laundry to do.

It soon dawned on me that the only feature of the "do laundry goal" which gave me such unusual motivation is it's obvious urgency. Very clear to me, it was, the time-bound nature of this goal. Very clear to me, it was, the consequences I would suffer, were I not to act immediately on this task. I had very little time to spend at home, and I knew the laundry had to be done before I left home. This was the source of my motivation; motivation, strong enough to pull me out of bed when I'd rather have slept in.

Being in a reflective mood, I went on to consider how I could get this same effect on more important goals esp. personal ones i.e. those which no other person but you is waiting on you to achieve. Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was that I need to set deadlines for achieving each of my personal goals. However, from ample experience, I've quickly dismissed this as vaguely impractical. Truth is, if no one else is expecting me to turn up the work, my deadlines are a little more than a big fat joke.

It's funny though, that as I write right now, I'm starting to consider how setting deadlines might not be as impracticable as I'd thought while brainstorming. The key to effectively creating deadlines for big personal goals - I think - is to break down goals into chunks; chunks tiny enough for one to assign realistic timelines to each one. I can easily see how taking this approach would make it easier to simulate urgency on a daily basis. Hmm. Deadlines might not be as pointless as I'd imagined after all.

Conclusively, I think it's also quite important that I mention the solution that had come to mind during my early brainstorming session.  It's this simple rule which I've come across so often in self-help:

"Decide on a minimum number of daily hours to spend working towards achieving your important personal goal"

Make sure you stick to the plan and neither deadlines nor urgency would count for much. If you spend time working on a goal, you inevitably move forward in achieving it. And if you follow the rule with consistency, you eventually get to the end in good enough time without putting yourself under undue pressure at any time. Sounds simple enough, innit; of course, until you try it out.

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