Monday, March 17, 2014

Improving Motivation Through Non-Zero Days and Doublethink

We all feel down sometimes. I believe a major contributor to this is zero progress to our long-term goals. But then we don't always have the energy/time to get up and make those calls, or go to the gym, or change ourselves, or invest in a new system. 

First, backup, you don't have the energy or time to put into your goals? First, make sure these goals are something you really want to do, because if you are creating barriers for yourself when only you are a potential benefactor, then maybe you need to re-describe your goals. Or maybe your goals are realistic, but you are just thinking too broadly and in grandeur? 

Any large project can be broken into small pieces. You're not looking hard enough if you can't see them. 

A better way to get yourself motivated is not getting wrapped up and discouraged by the perfect state - try considering the breakdown of commitment and commitment levels. 

First the problem of commitment. "I don't have time to write a book." might your goal and problem with motivation. Stop thinking about the time investment. This isn't about time. It's about your book. Now, that we're over that - lie to yourself about what you're going to do. No, you read that right. Lie. Say, "I'm just going to think about this for a little bit and stop and write some notes." This is your commitment level. You'll have plenty of "time" to work on your other commitments since its just a few lines and some dedicated thought. 

You may know, or come to know, that the this starting minimum investment actually will blossom into a much larger investment, but that is what you deny yourself. 

You didn't realize it as it happened but you are committing to a non-zero day. You are also committing to doublethink. 

First the non-zero day concept popularized in a comment by /u/ryans01:

"...What's a zero day? A zero day is when you don't do a single ... thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros. I'm not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that's not the point. The point I'm trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didnt' do anything all ... day and it's 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero. ... When you're in the super vortex of being bummed your pattern of [behavior] is keeping the vortex [going], that's what you're used to. Turning into [a] productivity ultimate master of the universe doesn't happen from [this negative spiral]. It happens from a massive string of CONSISTENT NON ZEROS...

"[The point behind this idea is] this: you become what you think ... the WAY you think, the THINGS you think of, and the IDEAS YOU HOLD IN YOUR MIND defines the sum total that is you. You procrastinate all the time and got fear and worry goin on for something? You are becoming a procrastinator. You keep thinking about how much you want to run that 5 k race in the spring and finish a champion? Are ya keeping it in mind all the time? Is it something that is defining your ACTIONS and influencing you DECISIONS? If it is, then you're becoming the champion you're dreaming about. Dreaming about it makes it. Think and it shall be. But do not forget that action is thought's son. Thoughts without actions are nothing. Have faith in whatever it is you've steeled your mind to. Have faith and follow through with action.

"...but how does that help me turn slightly nonzero days into hugely nonzero days ... Ask yourself: What do I think of? When you get home and walk in the door. (how quickly did you turn that laptop on? Did turning it on make you closer to your dreams? What would?) At the bus stop. Lunch break. What direction are you focusing your intentions on? ..."

Non-zero days are the first ingredient. Second is doublethink.

 is, in short, "to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them." 

Doublethink, while an Orwellian, dystopian concept, can be used for good especially in first jumpstarting motivational actions and thoughts. It allows you to both start your potentially large contribution to your end-goal, but also keep yourself in the moment by only guaranteeing yourself a very short investment. 

Practicing doublethink in the early stages of overcoming your problems with motivation will soon lead to more and more non-zero days, soon allowing you to abolish doublethink all together. 

While learning and practicing both of these concepts may be a new technique altogether, the underlying problems with motivation mentioned earlier may be finally addressed in individuals with poor self motivation.