How do I get motivated when my motivation normally rides on adrenaline?

A student asked:

How do I get motivated when my motivation normally rides on adrenaline?

I think for starters, we need to move away from the idea of doing things only when we’re motivated, to the idea that we need to instil the discipline within ourselves to do things – with or without motivation. I like to say that as adults, there are many things we have to do regardless of whether we like them or not, but because we have to.

I hate eating vegetables, but my freezer is stocked to the brim with frozen vegetables that I eat daily. Do I like it? No. But I eat it because I have to.

Now, the whole idea of living a life doing things that we have no feelings or motivation for sounds pretty sad. That’s not true. I don’t like eating vegetables, but that doesn’t stop me from figuring out how to cook it in a way that it’s so delicious that I enjoy eating it.

Similarly, with all other tasks that I have to do but lack the motivation, e.g. edit or produce lecture videos (it really is such a chore to do it as it takes about 8 hours to edit each video), I make it a point to have fun while I do it (like make funny songs or embed a really good joke into the video).

At least this way, I’m looking forward to the fun that I’ll be having rather than constantly dreading the task. This would explain all the fun and crazy things I do in my course. I’m constantly finding ways to make the onerous and painful work fun for myself that I am happy and motivated to work on it.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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