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How to Stay Motivated (Cheap Dopamine-Free Version)
Sometimes in search of a potion, we forget that water is as important for survival.
Another generic productivity post, eh? Negative. Sit back and relax.
Before I begin with today’s letter, here are some random musings…
How many times has this happened that you wanted to keep yourself motivated, but failed miserably only within a couple of days, if not weeks?
Healthy motivation is like good design. It doesn’t make its presence felt too often.
It’s always like “OMG, look at that… how goddamn beautiful it is!” Sometimes we don’t know what element of that design makes it stand out, but what we know for sure is that the synergy it creates is a sight to behold.
The same is the feeling when we feel motivated and all pumped up, right? We don’t exactly know what’s exactly making us feel that way. But we do know all our actions are a part of the beautiful mosaic.
Compare that with a design that’s literally killing your eyes. You can point to all the different things that could have gone wrong.
That’s exactly the state when we are feeling low. Every element feels like it’s painted in neon for some bad reason.
So, is there a way we can make that good design last long? Forever, maybe?
I think there is.
But there is a caveat. We must direct our attention to the aspects we often see as tentative and short-term.
Those flashy hacks are of little use if we want to take hold of the bigger picture. The ultimate solution lies in doing simple things—over and over and over again.
Make smaller goals
But that’s not the whole point.
The interesting part lies in achieving them within a set timeline.
This has happened countless times to me: I’d set a goal bigger than myself only to fail to make a reality of even an ounce of it.
You too? I hear you.
It’s like taking the worst of both worlds. (If a phrase like that exists!)
You are neither content nor you have got any work done.
It makes you feel worthless and not capable of achieving anything worthwhile.
A better and more sustainable way forward is to make smaller goals and complement them with setting a time limit.
This is healthy and will keep you motivated. Welcome healthy dopamine to your mental space.
Limit your social circle
If you’d asked me this question about whether you should limit your social circle, I’d have replied with a negative.
I used to think the bigger your social circle is the more connections and perspectives you have.
I was so wrong all this time.
The factor I forgot to take into account is that we all have limited time and energy. It’s never coming back. We better spend it consciously.
Limiting doesn’t mean isolating; it just means being selective about your choices.
Know the opportunity cost of engaging with a ton of people. It’s way worse a scenario if they are not like-minded and boast a negative outlook.
If we go beyond a degree of interaction with a lot of people, we’ll be left in utter confusion and all of our energy would be drained.
Quite the opposite of a recipe for staying motivated, right?
So, curate and limit and be mindful of your social circle.
Read good books
It’s more of a therapeutic add-on than anything.
You can replace it with listening to a podcast or your favourite 18th-century composer.
But I’d advise otherwise. Maybe it’s just because of my romanticisation with reading and the smell of pages.
Reading for as little as 10-20 minutes a day can go a long way. Don’t underestimate and take this piece of advice as another generic pill.
I mean it.
It legit feels so good turning pages and reading something completely new. Be it jumping into a fantasy world or learning about leverage, I can’t be more thankful for my love for reading.
It’s an escape, a motivator and an insightful read all at once.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself, for god’s sake
Positive self-talk can be your biggest saviour.
Things sometimes don’t go as we had anticipated them to. And that’s okay.
On some introspections, I found out that this is the most common reason that makes me feel demotivated.
Not being too harsh on yourself and making positive self-talk a new normal kind of complements each other.
Both of them are mindset material. It’s like a virtuous cycle.
If you’re not being harsh on yourself, you are not thinking in extremes. That in turn makes you realistic. And that encourages you to have a positive one-on-one with yourself.
Building this habit will act as a stop-loss.
Just as you put a stop-loss when you trade in the stock market to limit your losses (if in case), you can leverage this duo of positive self-talk and take-it-easy attitude when you know you’re going that demotivation rabbit hole.
My recent words and works…
Lately, I am having a good time writing and reading on Medium.
Medium article (4 min read): What Productivity IS and What It IS NOT
So, yeah, that was it for today. I hope you had a good time reading this.
I’m planning to write issues of this letter like this. It’s fun writing in a conversational style.
And occasionally breaking a couple of grammar rules. It's like starting the previous sentence with ‘and’. Grammar Nazis, sorry.
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