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Motivation

Why Most People Give Up Just Before They See Results

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When I was six years old, I remember giving up half-way on a math problem. I don’t recall who it was, probably a grade-school teacher who then told me a story of a man who needed to swim across a lake. The lake was 2 miles. He swam halfway and then got really tired and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. He turned around and swam back. 

I was aghast. “But he swam 2 miles either way! He could’ve just continued swimming forward and would’ve reached with the same effort!” It seemed like a pointless exercise and didn’t teach me much about giving up. When I think about it now, it’s not so surprising. We always tend to overestimate the journey ahead. 

We want tangible results

The moment we start a new project or skill, we expect results to follow soon. Most people don’t have an idea of what kind of results they want: just that it should be noticeable and experienced. 

If you recently started learning a new language, your idea of seeing results might be to speak fluently. That’s an undefined goal, and it’s difficult to say when that could happen. It could be a few months or a couple of years. But you’ll likely get frustrated before that happens. You’ll wonder why you’re working so hard but not seeing the results you want.

On the other hand, if your idea of seeing results would be to identify all alphabets correctly and pronounce two-syllable words, that’s a more realistic and well-defined result,, and you could accomplish it in six weeks with regular classes. 

Ensuring that your idea of ‘results’ is well-defined can help you identify the progress you’re making, however slow or little it is. 

The Plateau of Latent Potential 

A theory by James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) explains why progress is never linear. You’re making progress every single day, but you don’t always see these results. 

Just because you aren’t seeing results doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They are being stored in your potential. James Clear likens it to heating an ice cube from twenty-five to thirty-one degrees. An ice cube melts at thirty two degrees, but just because the visible result happens between thirty one and thirty two, doesn’t mean the heating that happened before isn’t just as important. 

This is especially true for fitness. Those who make drastic lifestyle changes often notice visible physical differences or increase in strength only weeks after committing to exercise. In those first few weeks where the body is making improvements too minute to be noticed, people often get discouraged, thinking that it’s not working.

Those that do stick at it, however, suddenly show results! To the people around them, it seems like an overnight success. Everyone acknowledges your results, only noticing your ‘thirty one to thirty two degrees’ without knowing the effort you’ve put in. 

Remember that the ‘Valley of Disappointment’, as James Clear calls it, is for a very short duration before you see the progress that you’ve been working so hard to get. We often have arbitrary expectations from ourselves: if we’ve been working hard we ‘should’ be seeing some kind of improvement! 

Having faith in yourself and re-evaluating your motives for getting the results you want can help fuel your motivation as you plow through the first few weeks (or months!). Before you decide something isn’t your cup of tea, make sure you’ve given yourself a fair chance. You’ve put in a lot of effort already. Your ‘thirty two degrees’ might be closer than you think.

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the blow that did it — but all that had gone before.” Jacob Ruiz

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Motivation

Why Some People are More Motivated than Others

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An Experiment

In 1998, Psychologists Claudia M. Mueller and Carol S. Dweck from Columbia University conducted a study on more than 400 students from the fifth grade. 

They made two groups of children and gave them a series of puzzles to solve. In the beginning, they gave them easy puzzles where almost all the children performed well. They then congratulated the children in group A, telling them that they performed well because they were smart and gifted

They also congratulated the children in group B, but this time told them that the reason for their good performance was that they put in a lot of effort and hard work. 

After telling the children this, they gave them another series of tests: puzzles that were more difficult than the first time. 

What they noticed was that the children in Group A got discouraged easily. After trying for some time, they gave up solving the puzzles. When asked about their experience, they said they didn’t enjoy solving the puzzles much.

The children in Group B spent more time trying to solve these difficult puzzles. These children also said that they had fun doing the exercise! They had higher levels of motivation and self-satisfaction even when faced with a challenge.  

Since the puzzles were difficult this time, the children in both groups were told the truth that they failed in some of the puzzles and then asked why. 

The children in Group A thought that the reason for their failure was that they just weren’t smart enough. They felt disheartened and were found to be performance-oriented. A few failures and set-backs were enough to make them question their abilities and lose hope. 

On the other hand, the children in Group B felt the reason for their failure was that they didn’t try hard enough. They were determined to try again and use a different approach or method to solve the puzzles. These children were process-oriented and didn’t seem to care too much about whether they succeeded or failed, and gave more value to the entire learning experience. 

What We Can Learn from It

The children in Group A had such low levels of motivation and self-belief because they thought they couldn’t control the situation. They thought they succeeded in the first puzzle because of being born with brains, but also failed in the second puzzle due to those brains not being good enough. 

Telling someone that they’re talented or gifted may sound like a compliment, but it is really saying that the person was just born with it, instead of giving them credit for their efforts! 

Since the Group A kids weren’t given true credit in the first experiment, they thought they had no control over their intelligence. Research also indicates that when children are constantly told that they’re gifted, they’re more concerned with justifying that label: “Am I really gifted and as smart as they say I am? If it’s true, why did I fail the test? Maybe I’m not smart.” They begin to doubt themselves. 

How does this apply to adults?

When we stop giving ourselves real credit for our achievements, it backfires and makes us much less motivated to accomplish more things in the future.

If you did really well on a presentation last week and told yourself, “I really did get lucky! It was an easy topic.”, then the moment you’re struggling with the next presentation, you’ll think that the only thing that’s changed is that this time your luck has run out! 

On the other hand, if you recognized your own efforts: “I stayed up all night last night and worked really hard on this presentation. I’m so glad I did well.” Then next time you’re struggling, you’re going to remind yourself that hard work pays off well (just like it did last week!). 

This is why the levels of motivation are higher in people who take credit for both their successes and their failures. Thinking that you succeeded because of forces beyond your control will give you a handy excuse for whenever failure comes around. 

Just like the kids in Group A and Group B, successes and failures happen to all of us. We have easy challenges and then more tricky ones. The point is not how well you perform, but how much you enjoy a challenge, and how motivated you remain throughout the learning process

So next time you succeed: take credit. And when you fail, do the same thing! You’ll be more motivated to keep trying, and have fun doing it.

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Motivation

Why it is Hard to Stay Motivated

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Change is the only constant.

How many times have we heard this in our lives? 

Do you realize this is not merely a saying but an experience every individual goes through multiple times during his entire life?

None of us know what the next second has in store for us. Right now you may be elated and you might find yourself in complete folds the next hour.

Relatable?

Well, these are the times when you need to chomp in a well-prepared meal.

No no, not your regular food, this meal has special ingredients which when cooked together, give you the dish called ‘motivation’.

It is extremely important to sense when our morale starts losing for if not paid attention to, it can turn into a habit and you might find yourself quite comfortable.

To be able to pull yourself out of lethargy, an understanding of what motivation actually is should be taken into consideration.

When defined, motivation is the power that activates the engine of success and moves you to act. It is not some external drive but comes from within and is very much related to your ambitions and desires in life.

Keep reminding yourself that this is a recurring process, you’ll have to be your own source of encouragement every day, sometimes even more than once a day.

Easier said than done right?

 I am aware.

However, a strong and logical mind is sure to overrule your emotions. After all, you are not your mind but much beyond that.

To be content and motive-driven, you need to have clarity. Like I mentioned above, a strong mind has control over your emotions and will help you keep track of your visions and goals. It is usually easy to get distracted by external factors but if you are sure enough of what you want ahead, nothing can come in your way.

Let’s see some things that you could do when you feel like there’s not much productivity flowing out :

  • The foremost thing is to stop and take deep breaths. A calm and relaxed mind is capable of viewing different point of views of the same situation. A moment of panic is sure to push you away and impact your ability to work.
  • After you find yourself quiet, drink two sips of water to give fuel to the brain.
  • Now, look closely at what you have in hand. An assignment to finish before the deadline? An examination to prepare for, due the day after? A project you just stepped into? Well, the list obviously is endless.
  • Having the work outline made, sit and divide it into smaller tasks, hence now you have shorter goals which are comparatively easier to achieve.
  • When a 4-5 hour project is broken down into sets of half an hour each, after the completion of every 0.5 hours there will be a sense of contentment and pride. The satisfaction thus attained will be far greater than anything else.

Now, this was just a little glimpse of what can be done or something that I usually adhere to. However, is this the only standard procedure? 

No.

Every individual is different and has his own psychological being. For some, a pep-talk would do wonders while for others just a 10-15 minute alone time is enough to get back to normal.

Therefore, don’t try to follow any steps mechanically. See various things, read about various things, and in the end, come up with different permutations and combinations that suit the best for you.

Enough of how to get motivated and why to get motivated. Let’s step into the deeper issue – ‘Not being able to work and to not be productive does not mean I am any less serious about my career. I am not making excuses just so that I can get off of responsibilities easily. Why does no one believe when I say this?’

The thoughts that we ponder over every time we are hit by a wave of disinterest. The problem is not anybody not believing you, the setback is of how society isn’t accepting of low workload times.

The pressure of watching every other person excel and hear stories of how people work 36 hours a day, has made this the notion of how one should approach his professional background.

The fear of not being able to report in time and the stress of being a few steps behind others always is daunting our subconsciousness. It’s high time we as individuals accept that this is what it is and it’s completely okay to be not okay somedays.

Embracing your own shortcomings will give you the courage to stand by yourself and fall back into action with double the motivation and power.

You know that these aren’t mere excuses, you know your mindset at that point in time and you know that you will give anything and everything to not be in this position and this is all that matters.

A sense of belief and confidence will automatically provide a boost and you’ll see yourself springing into ideas and creative techniques to give shape to the same project.

Hence, two things are the highlight of your gloomy days – One, that targets smaller goals to reach the bigger goal in less time and with less stress. Two, to accept and face the fact that you will have no willpower one day and it’s okay but at the same time knowing that you have to get back on your feet the next day.

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Habits

How Reading can impact your Day to Day Life?

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Reading is a healthy habit, which, if practiced daily, can change your entire life around. Do you want to know why? Through Reading, one can not only gain knowledge but also stay acquainted with the outside as well as the inside world. The best thing about reading daily is to have an isolated place for yourself in your mind, where you can run off to. Most people don’t have the patience or intention to read, and that too, daily. Though this is a habit that takes time to settle in but trust me, once it does, you would never regret it. So, here is a list of reasons why you should read daily?

Why should you read daily?

  • To gain knowledge

Once you start reading daily, and by Reading, it can be anything – you can read few pages of a novel, or a magazine, or newspaper, or even poetry – you would notice within weeks how much your knowledge regarding the outer world has improved. Through Reading, one can have clear information regarding the current affairs, and hence, stay updated.

  • To improve your vocabulary

Through Reading, you can definitely learn new words and hence, improve your vocabulary. Most people make it a habit to learn a new word from the dictionary every day, but if you read daily, you are bound to get new words and make a list of them on a notebook with their meanings, which is definitely going to be helpful for you.

  • To have a make-believe world

The most beautiful consequence of Reading is having one’s own imaginary world, where one can live a life full of magic. This is the extraordinary superpower one acquires while reading. In this busy daily life of ours, we all look for a secluded place where we can feel the essence of peace. Reading can fly you off to the imaginary land of sunflowers, daisies, and cats who can indeed talk.

  • To become more attentive

Most people lack patience nowadays. Being impatient and restless has become a severe problem in today’s world. Here, Reading can help you calm your mind and improve your observation skills. It works like meditation. In no time, you would find your mind focusing on details and becoming more attentive to events, which used to go unnoticed.

  • To reduce stress

Reading is similar to meditation, and hence, it definitely helps to reduce your stress. Books always have a calming effect on one’s mind. It takes you away from daily problems and stressful situations and helps your mind to gain stability. Not only it helps in reducing stress, but it also helps to decrease the anxiety levels of a person. 

Everyone should make reading a daily habit. One should switch off the mobile phones, turn off the television and take some time out to read. It works wonders on one’s day-to-day life and changes one person’s entire personality. Though it can be hard at first, with time, you would cherish the moments alone, reading in a corner while your mind is flying off to Narnia.

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