Monday, July 8, 2013

Babbling About Intentions and Getting Myself Motivated

I've had this problem recently, actually I seem to have this problem a lot, where I want to write about certain things and have all the good intentions to do so and then I just don't end up doing it. In no way do I feel alone with problem for I think it is a common hardship in any person's life, figuring out how to maneuver your way from intention to action. In some ways I believe people often try, myself included, to reduce their guilt of not acting by convincing themselves that they had the full intention of doing so. One thing I have always been horrible with is writing Thank You cards. I always start out with the intention to write Thank You notes to friends or family but then a month, or two months, or a year passes, and I realize I never actually got around to sending one... but I was going to and I try to convince myself that matters.

As much as we try to console ourselves with the notion that intention and action are close to the same thing there is actually a wide gap between the two. This gap isn't always hard to jump, for instance, your desire and intention to get food during the day is often fulfilled by actions we take to feed ourselves, but the gap can widen by time and/or the access to other, more easily fulfilled desires. One example would be when your desire for comfort is stronger than your desire to relieve your bladder during the night. It's that horrible moment when you wake up and you're still so nice and warm and comfortable in your bed, but you can't go back to sleep because you just really have to go the bathroom. Of course with this example you have to eventually get up and go to the bathroom or else there will be harmful physiological damage or, and way more likely, you'll wet the bed. On the other hand, with an action that does not have to be performed in order for you to live, the intention can stay an intention as long as you can get away with it.

That brings us to the real problem with motivation to perform actions that don't actually have any foreseeable consequences. When you don't write a blog post that you're sure only you are reading, it doesn't make a difference to anyone else. When you don't end up painting or drawing a picture that you had the intention of doing last week entirely for your own desire, then there are really no consequences to not acting upon that intention. If you don't read that book or watch that movie you always said you wanted to, there's no grade deduction or slap on the wrist. When relying solely on intrinsic motivation, we often let other obstacles or time get the better of us.

Many of my psychology classes were dedicated, at least in part, to a way to change our intentions into our actions. Often this was done by adding extrinsic motivators, such as food or money. Since I don't need any more relationship problems with food I decided to use money. As previously mentioned I have lots of ideas to write about, but rarely end up writing on this blog. I'm going to start giving myself rewards for every blog entry I make, and since I also have a problem with buying too many books, one entry will be worth $1 towards buying a new book. This will be the only contingency for now and if I need to add more later I will. I am also considering using this method of positive or negative reinforcers in other aspects of my life, but I want to wait and see how this one goes.

This was definitely not what I was planning on writing about today but it just happened. I guess sometimes you get onto an idea and just run with it. I'll keep you guys updated on my progress and any changes I make. Getting yourself motivated can be a real problem and there's no shame in looking for a way to help yourself increase productivity (in a healthy way). Making small changes and taking things one step at a time has often shown the best results.

I'd love to hear of any tips or tricks people have or are currently using to help themselves become more motivated or productive in their lives.


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