I was talking to a friend tonight who told me he was struggling to find the motivation to do anything good for himself. I tried to offer some advice until I realised I had also fallen into the same habitual state of working and then wasting away in front of Netflix my entire time off. It isn’t a productive or healthy way to spend our time. I remembered that a while ago, on a different blog, I had written a post entirely about motivation and self-improvement. I went back to it this evening and was so surprised at how inspired it made me feel afterwards, so, I thought I would share it again and see if it gives anyone else a little boost . . . maybe?
“The Wake Up Call”
I have never been satisfied with my life. That is a very depressing statement to make, but I feel that it is one which many people can resonate with. I am the master of starting things and never finishing them. There are many reasons why a lot of us do this. I think my reason comes down to a reliance on instant gratification. I enjoy reading, listening to other peoples ideas and more than anything, I love to sit and think. My blog title, The Diary of a Self Proclaimed Mastermind, came from the Myers Briggs test. I by no means believe that this is an accurate description of my personality and have, at different times fluctuated between Logician, Architect, and Mastermind. I do, however, believe that these tests can provide a poetic foundation to further develop yourself and sometimes offer some kind of affirmation that you are capable of much more.
So, why does what I have to say matter? It doesn’t. I am the ultimate Millennial cliche – a twenty-five-year-old barmaid, living with parents and wondering where the hell do I go from here. I did terribly in my GCSE’s. I didn’t go to 6th form, I instead went to college where I later dropped out before receiving a grade. I didn’t attend university. The only qualifications I have are a few GCSE’s and a level 2 beauty therapy qualification. So whether you read on from here or not is up to you (and your prejudices).
I believe that the lack of “educational” experience I have in comparison to my friends and acquaintances can occasionally be made up for in my “life experience”. I have by no means had a difficult life, but I have had a life so far that I have found difficult. My love for sitting and analysing and my general dissatisfaction with my life were bound to cross paths at some point and have done several times. I have read books and poetry, watched videos, listened to debates on the subjects of philosophy, physics, religion and tried to keep an entirely open mind about the ideas of others (something that is certainly easier said than done with me).
Sometimes we get stuck in routines that don’t work for us. Despite being fully aware that we need to change the routine, we continue to allow ourselves to be unhappy. I was and to an extent, very much still am, in a routine that isn’t working for me. Through learning new ideas and philosophies, I came across a group of ideas, lessons, and quotes from different intellectuals that totally resonated with me. Together they hold some of the most important lessons, especially when you are looking to improve your life…
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”
Discipline is eating healthily, exercising, not buying that coat you don’t need even though it’s “fully my colour”, meditating, developing routine and structure in your life… all things that improve mental and physical health and overall life quality. Not having the discipline to do those fundamental things results in suffering in some shape or form. So we have to choose wisely, whether we would prefer to suffer from the discipline to become a better healthier more fulfilled person, or would we prefer to suffer the regret of having never tried. I severely lack discipline. It is obvious with every day I sleep in, every time I have a joint before the evening, every time I say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Discipline rages war on bad habits and instead of giving our troops a helping hand, most of the time we let our bad habits win the war. When I read the quote by Jim Rohn, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” it made me realise, from a black and white perspective, the grandeur and importance of this choice and I would struggle to see why anyone would choose regret.
The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment
Despite everything, I remain stagnant, idle and “unmotivated”. I began to think about why this was. If I knew that I would be happier if I was more disciplined, why am I not being more disciplined? Then I read about the Standford Marshmallow Experiment. This was an experiment performed in the 1960’s-1970’s by psychologist Walter Mischel, on delayed gratification. Children were offered one marshmallow there and then, or two marshmallows if they waited a longer amount of time. The results from these experiments showed that the children who waited for the two marshmallows tended to have better life outcomes.
I know for a fact that I would have been the child who took the one marshmallow and I believe that this is still my problem. My brain is in the habit of receiving instant gratification and despite knowing that with discipline and time, the rewards will be greater, it is going to be something that my brain finds difficult to do naturally. I need to consciously think about my decisions, even the small things, like washing up. My instant gratification loving brain will tell me, “Chill, I can wash the dishes later.”. This is where I will have to change my thought pattern to, “If I get the dishes done now, they will be out of the way (and less chance of manky, dried on food that you need to get Kim and Agie in to scrub) and you’ll be able to chill out after with a clear head and clear to do list.”. Once you learn how to hone your decision-making skills to benefit your life in the long term, you are actively taking steps towards your goals. Discipline is important in all aspects of our lives, including relationships, hobbies and work. So the next time you look at your to-do list and say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”, make the decision logically and rationally and discipline yourself. The to-do list will most likely benefit your life in the long term and you will feel a sense of pride and relief once you have completed your goals, which I find much more comforting now than the guilt and disappointment of holding everything off yet another day.
“You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax. Master the day. Then just keep doing that every day.”
I learned from the above that I need to be more disciplined and make better decisions that will benefit my life in the long term more often, but I started to tell myself that on some days I just don’t have the motivation. It was so easy to tell myself that I was feeling depressed that day, so what I need is a duvet day. On one of those duvet days, I watched a video where Mel Robbins spoke about her Impact Theory, she says “Motivation is Garbage”. Again, I had found somebody else that I could totally relate to. Back to the washing up again, she says that you are never going to feel motivated to do the dishes. You just have to do them. She tells us that people have this idea that they are going to change at some point and that they just need to feel ready for it. Whether that is stopping smoking, starting exercise, getting a new job… but the truth is that you are never going to feel like washing the dishes and you are never going to feel ready for change. Nike really hit the nail on the head with their logo.
“Motivation is garbage”
So, the bottom line is, I am never going to feel like I am ready to change, change is going to be scary and exciting. If I start to live a more disciplined life now I will be much more likely to live a more fulfilling and healthier life. The best thing is it is all free. Some of you may be embarking on a similar journey of self-improvement and I wish you the best of luck. I think it is always important to remember this quote when we are facing new challenges…
“Next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”.
Professor Stephen Hawking