The world is awash in motivational advice. Often it is doled out by motivational speakers. If a pep talk was all you needed to be motivated then we would all be brimming with motivation.
A motivational speaker will stir up something in you. Upon listening to him you will want to go out and become a world beater. Most likely, the feeling will not last out the day. If it does survive the day it will definitely not last out the week. That's why you will think that you need to go listen to some more motivational speeches or to buy some motivational tapes.
This being the case one tends to doubt Melissa Dahl’s claim she has discovered the only piece of motivational advice that you need.
And yet, Dahl is entirely correct. Her motivational advice is defiantly the best. It is so good that it ought to put the motivational speakers out of business. It will not, because bad ideas die hard. Still, here it is:
You don’t have to feel like getting something done in order to actually get it done.
The motivational advice business is a con, a scam. It tells you that you need to attain to a certain state of mind, a desire to do something, before you actually set about to do it. In truth, Dahl points out, you do not have to think anything in particular or to feel anything in particular or to want anything in particular. Actions do not require a mental prelude. You just need to do it… if necessary, on automatic pilot. Like brushing your teeth or making the morning coffee or opening the mail.
Dahl quotes Oliver Burkeman, author of a book she loves: The Antidote: Happiness for People who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. In Burkeman’s words:
Who says you need to wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it? The problem, from this perspective, isn’t that you don’t feel motivated; it’s that you imagine you need to feel motivated. … If you can regard your thoughts and emotions about whatever you’re procrastinating on as passing weather, you’ll realise that your reluctance about working isn’t something that needs to be eradicated or transformed into positivity. You can coexist with it. You can note the procrastinatory feelings and work anyway.
If anyone convinces you that you need to wait to feel like doing something before you do it, the mental mechanism, all by itself, will cause you not to do it. It will cause you to procrastinate and it get deeply into your mind, thus further and further away from your work. It does not matter how reluctant you are to tackle a job, you need but start working on it… task by small task.
When the challenge involves jumping off of the high dive at the pool, the first thing you must do is assure yourself that there is water in the pool. If there isn't any water in the poor the problem will not be motivation. Then, you need but jump… without thinking over the reasons why you might not want to jump.
Dahl quotes a Japanese psychiatrist on the salient point:
Shoma Morita, a Japanese psychiatrist, to drive the point home. “Is it accurate to assume that we must ‘overcome’ fear to jump off the high dive at the pool, or increase our confidence before we ask someone out for a date?” Morita said. “If it was, most of us would still be waiting to do these things.”