I’m human.  I like things that most humans like.  Unfortunately, what most humans like are things that are completely counterproductive to their goals.

Its weird to think about how the simplest addictive pleasures tend to be the exact opposite of what we need in order to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.  Take what we eat for example:

1) We like sugar.  Sugar causes obesity (and cavities).
2) We like cheap and delicious food.  Cheap and delicious food causes heart attacks (and terrible flatulence).
3) We like caffeine.  Caffeine works… and then works too well.  Then we need more caffeine because we didn’t sleep… because it worked too well.
4) We couldn’t care less for fruits and vegetables.  However, fruits and vegetables will make us live to 100 (…or something like that).

So why is it that what we want now directly works against what we want in the future?

I don’t have an answer.  If I did, I wouldn’t be eating some delicious Taco Bell right now.  All I know is that the same type of thing happens when I’m trying to accomplish something meaningful in my life.  In order to accomplish something meaningful, I need to stop destroying my motivation with these short-term pleasures that have no real valuable affect on my life:

1) Damn you, Social Networks!

Sometimes I get some really great ideas for my projects when I’m driving home from work.  My mind is racing, my heart is beating, and I just need to spit it out on paper or write it on a whiteboard.  I get home, take of my shoes, and drop my bag—“Oh, hi computer!  How I’ve missed you for the past 15 minutes between work and home!”  Like a magnet, I open my email.  Like a homing missile, I open Facebook.

And its over.  All those brilliant ideas are now lost because I’m addicted to what everybody else is doing, and that I’m not.  Do you know the feeling?  Feels good now, depresses you later?

Instead, I now make it a rule to do something else before I hit the interwebs.  Lately, I’ve been doing a small work out when I get home so I can foster my ideas while accomplishing something at the same time.  What can you accomplish?  Cooking?  Reading?

2) Damn you, Cable-Netflix-Hulu-Redbox!

Too busy being busy

When I moved to my current apartment, I took the first step in saving some brain cells and didn’t sign up for cable.  I’ve found it pretty liberating actually.  Sometimes I pace around my apartment because I’m not sure what I want to do at first.  Usually, in past households, this would lead me to the TV—the natural choice.  Now, I don’t have that option so I either A) do something that gets me closer to accomplishing some personal goals, or B) head straight for Netflix.

Ugh.

Netflix and Hulu are now the lovely bane of my existence.  Netflix is easy to get rid of.  Just cancel it and/or pretend you don’t actually know your friend’s account sign-in information.  Hulu, on the other hand, needs to be used sparingly.  As with social network magnetism, simply make it a rule to accomplish something before you sit down to watch.  Write the rule down.  Have someone else enforce it and hold you accountable.  Its time to give your will power a workout.

As for the Redbox machine at the corner of my block… I think a homemade cocktail bomb will do the trick.

3) Damn you, Accidental Naps!

coffee,acme,caffeine,quotes,sleep-e64eb39454a200c7a424c094163b5ea5_h

 If you’re anything like me, a quick collapse on the bed when you get home always seems like a harmless idea.  Besides, you’re not that tired.  Two hours later you wake up in a dazed and confused state with no idea what just happened.

Sometimes naps are necessary for productivity, but only if you have the mental awareness to get up after twenty minutes.  Too bad that pillow is mighty comfortable.

If you know you won’t wake up in an energized and productive state, then you must… not… lay… down.  Easier said than done, you say?!

Try pulling off all your blankets and pillows.  A bare bed is much less inviting than a bed that looks like a comfy cloud.  If that doesn’t work, put something large and obtrusive on it.  Its very hard to collapse on a desk drawer or office chair (my object of choice).  If that doesn’t work, avoid the bedroom altogether.  Take your computer, book, etc. to the kitchen table.  The proximity of your bed is your worst enemy!

Grogginess is not conducive to motivation.  Go to bed earlier if you can’t avoid napping.  Simple changes in how you go through each day can create energy that eventually adds up in the form accomplished goals.

At the end of your life, you’re not going to care about what your “Facebook friend” had for lunch or how cute your “actual friend’s” baby looks in 200 nearly identical photos. You’re also not going to remember how terrible the Twilight movies were either.  And lastly, you’re not going to recall anything from your two-hour naps, because… well… you were asleep.

Time is ticking and there is absolutely so much you can do….  Avoid short-term pleasures so you can enjoy long-term accomplishments!

What other things kill your motivation?  How do you avoid them?


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Jake is the younger, yet taller and more dashing brother between “Jake and Chad.” He’s the voice of reason behind every one of Chad’s audacious ideas, as he puts the “calculated” in “calculated risk.” He also writes songs and makes videos for the joy of the Internet. Jake is currently redeeming the millions of airline points he’s racked up through mad travel hacking techniques and is probably on a plane somewhere.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Really enjoyed this post. For starters, I had a full size Butterfinger this week and it was amazing, but I do that about every six months. We also do not have cable and it is saving me hours of non-productivity. Facebook. Yes. This is my biggest time-waster, and I’ve thought about canceling my account, but I need it for the business pages I’ve created. Plus, I would feel like I’m missing out in some dumb capacity. Where would I post all my cat photos!?

    Trying to find a happy balance here. I love to take an hour walk (3-4 times minimum) to clear my head, it makes it (nearly) impossible for me to scroll facebook and that is when my creativity most comes alive because I’m forced to be present with myself, and I make notes in my iphone of ideas and goals. Thanks for the tips!

    • What would we do without more cat photos?!?!?!

      There are programs/apps out there that lock down your Facebook for what ever time you set. A few friends use it when they study for exams. Seems like a compromise between canceling and being on it 24/7.

      I agree on the “being present” part too. We’re distracting our own imaginations every time we open it up.

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