This is the third in a series of posts addressing issues related to productivity.
This post, which also originated as a response to a question on Quora.com, looks at productivity through a different lens. Here the writer was asking if motivation could be external. He is a composer who apparently hit a rough spot.
In other words, he was asking me to improve his productivity.
While someone else can motivate you if they have enough influence over you as I discuss below, internal motivation leading to increased productivity is what most of us seek to achieve.
If you have ever found yourself avoiding a project, procrastinating, or hoping some external miracle would come along and build a fire under you, you might benefit from my response.
By the way, if you are a writer, you might benefit from my looking at my own loss of motivation when I was writing my first book and how I overcame it.
My quick answer to this question was: “No, I can’t motivate you.”
Here were my suggestions to this individual’s query.
The reason behind my answer is that unless I have some influence over you which I could use to push you into action, only you can motivate yourself.
I can, however, provide some information which may help you look within and generate the motivation you seek.
Clearly, you have talent and a unique gift. This is a point you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for. You can, as other answers have suggested think about how much you will bring to others if you complete your work.
To you, my reader… To what extent do you denigrate yourself and your abilities because you believe that you do not measure up to some external standard or because you are not “perfect”? If you do and this prevents you from moving forward with your project, I suggest, as do all experts on writing, that you put these concerns aside and complete your project. Once this is done, you can get some feedback from someone who can be objective.
Let me ask you this. What emotions are you feeling that seem to compel you to stop composing? Are you feeling anxious and stop to make the feeling of anxiety go away? Do you start out being excited about the work you are composing and, when that excitement begins to dwindle, do you stop because you believe your lack of excitement is telling you that you have lost interest in the project? While this feeling is similar to boredom, it is different in that boredom implies that the work is no longer holding your attention and the lack of excitement is simply saying that the work you are doing is not “new” to you (although still important) and you need to tap into a different emotion to “motivate” you to complete the work.
I have written two Amazon best seller books on emotions (Emotions as Tools and Beyond Anger Management) and I have experienced both anxiety and a decrease in excitement (never boredom) while writing.
So, let me explain what I did as it may help you.
If you have read any of my other posts, you know that all feelings communicate a message to you about how you perceive the situation in which you find yourself.
Anxiety is a future based emotion, the message of which is that you perceive a possible threat which might cause you some harm in the future. For me, the future threat was that I would write my book and no one would buy it or people might be critical of it.
If you stop composing because you project yourself into the future and see your work as “failing” (however, you define this), then you are experiencing anxiety.
The flip side of anxiety is the emotion of anticipation.
The message of anticipation is that your work might be well received by at least one person who hears it (and possibly more). Anticipation may help you to find the motivation you seek.
By the way, I do not believe that all the works of Beethoven were well received when he wrote them. This did not stop him from composing.
Let’s talk about getting excited about what you are composing.
I almost stopped writing my first book because the excitement that initially “motivated” me to write quickly wore off as I struggled with how to get my words right and doing more research when I needed to.
This is normal. Your initial excitement won’t last.
When this happened, I did not assume that I was no longer interested in the project. Rather, I realized that the project I was working on was just as important and relevant as it was when I originally got all excited about it and used this realization to propel me through the process until I once again became excited. Excitement goes up and down until you are finished.
To my readers: I hope that the above comments have been helpful to you if you have ever found yourself “unmotivated” and stuck.
Motivation, or the emotional drive to move forward, happens because you view what you are doing as valuable.
Productivity flows from motivation.
This perceived value can flow from several different perceptions including:
- your anticipation regarding the impact what you create will have on someone else or
- your desire, however your work is received, to “give birth” to your creation just because it is yours to create
The important point to keep in mind is that motivation is an emotion. You create your emotions so you can create motivation by changing how you perceive what you are doing.
It is completely up to you.