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The Problem with Motivation

Personally, staying motivated has always been something I've struggled with, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. My motivation was extremely low last year, during my junior year, due to academic burnout, athletic burnout, and the general pressure that came with SAT testing, taking AP Exams, and managing time and making sacrifices in my social life. I never wanted to do homework or study or even write these blogs. I especially did not want to start thinking about college. But no matter the stage of life, motivation is a universal struggle and a fickle thing we come across most commonly at around 1 am when it's apparently time to deep clean a room or rearrange a bookshelf. Whenever I experienced these bouts of motivation, I felt great. I felt productive, I felt like "that girl," and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders in that I was independently taking care of the things I needed to take care of. However, after my room and bathroom were deep cleaned, that motivation lasted about an average of four days. Then it was back to hours of scrolling or chatting or generally being unproductive.

I always felt bad about being unproductive, and my parents were also unhappy with my lack of what they considered work ethic, and I considered motivation. I've come to the conclusion that in order to be productive, there is no way to efficiently rely on just motivation, because it can be burning strong one day then gone without a trace the next day. But even after I knew this, I would still find myself back in old habits of letting my dirty laundry pile up or letting my room resemble the aftermath of a small hurricane or scrolling on my phone into oblivion wasting precious hours of my day.

I still struggle with my productivity, but I am making progress. I changed what motivation and work ethic meant to me, and I changed my environment. I think motivation, work ethic, and goal setting all hold hands in the sense of working together to create a healthy productivity. I think the internal dialogue of how "good" your work ethic is is very important because whatever it is you think of yourself you will most likely make a reality. For me, this looked like convincing myself that despite popular belief, I was good enough in work ethic to complete whatever it is I had set out to finish. Whether these are athletic, academic, social, musical, or any sort of extracurricular objectives, goals are important to have because they can act as motivation check points. Getting all A's for a quarter is excellent motivation to start studying maybe a day or two earlier. Gaining an inch in a vertical or gaining muscle mass in the gym is an excellent way to motivate actions of getting out of bead and going to get reps in. Nailing a piece at a recital in a month is excellent motivation to go practice for a couple hours. Are we picking up on the theme?

Anyhow- in addition to goal setting, I've found that setting is deeply crucial to productivity, at least in my case. I never felt encouraged to work in my room because there was trash and dirty clothes and dust all over the floor. However, I've found that with some brown noise, a made bed, a clean floor, and a generous amount of candlelight, I am more productive than I have been in arguably the better part of two years. In fact, I've been writing this blog for about 25 minutes straight with three lit candles on my desk accompanied by some easy listening music. I would be proud of me too! The fire hazard is in fact not the point here, but the gentle ambiance is. But especially in terms of work, I think it is key to find an environment that works for you, and that is going to look a little different for everybody. If you keep up patterns of work and productivity, after about 21 days, the routine becomes a habit, and staying motivated becomes a little bit easier. Naturally, all of this is much easier said than done, but it is definitely possible if a notably unmotivated person like myself can get back on the right track to productivity dream central. Keep in mind that different things work for different people based on preference, experience, and mindset, so don't take this too seriously- this is just what jumpstarted my motivation engine. God bless and have an excellent day!

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