Why Motivation Does Not Work
Hi, there, fellow singers! Here’s wishing you happy holidays and Happy New Year! Every new year, there’s always this phenomenon called ‘false hope syndrome’. At least that’s what I call it.. It’s the time of year where people set their New Year’s Resolutions.
There’s nothing wrong with this in itself, but what usually happens is that people tend to set unrealistic goals for themselves in the hype of the moment. Then they get frustrated and give up. The next year they get excited again and the whole process repeats.
Obviously, this doesn’t do any favors for your self-esteem. Every time you do this and quit, you chalk up another ‘defeat’ in your mind. So after a while, you’ll stop bothering. This is not good for music as a whole, because we desperately need new voices to spice up the scene a bit.
So what if you’ve been through a few of these cycles? I remember a few times I tried to quit smoking. Wow.. That was a bummer.. Thankfully I’m smoke-free now, but I can tell you this: it wasn’t because of my superior will-power. That’s a myth a lot of people are taught to believe when it comes to change and self-improvement.
Let’s look at this issue a little bit closer. How does having willpower help in getting that New Year’s resolution done? Will-power is the driving force behind our actions. It gives us power to do (or not do) things that get in the way of whatever our goals are.
Where then, does this willpower come from? The gurus tell us that we need to motivate ourselves if we want to improve. Motivation in this case means that we set goals, and push ourselves to achieve those goals. If that was true, then why do we need people to motivate us?
I’m sure a lot of you have been there before. I remember as a kid, my school had these ‘motivational courses’ where speakers would come and share stories, concepts etc that in effect would fire us up as students to achieve whatever it was we were supposed to do.
If you’ve ever been to one of these events, you might remember how you felt by the end of the courses – absolutely bullet-proof. You might also remember how it felt 2 days after the courses – absolutely down in the dumps!
Why does this happen? Simple. When you were feeling bullet-proof as a result of the artificial emotional lift, you set very high goals for yourself. You imagine yourself studying, full of discipline, getting those straight-As, and basically just turning everything you touch into pure gold.
It’s a lot like having a credit card. Think about it. You have a lot of ‘cash’ that’s actually future money. You get excited and use up all the $12,000 credit you have on luxury watches and handbags. Now here’s the thing: it takes a day at most to shop and make the purchase for those items, but it will take a few years to pay of the $12,000 plus interest!
What the teachers were trying to do is no different: get an ‘expert’ speaker, get them to pump the kids up to their eyeballs in short term adrenaline, and expect them to get things done that require long term focus, using whatever they’ve learned in the short-term course.
Needless to say, the next time the school organized the course (they do it like twice a year or something), the kids tried their best not to show up. Understandably so – the pain from setting high goals and quitting on them is not very good for the ego!
What would happen to the guy/gal who used up all his/her credit? The high purchase requires very high long-term commitment to pay it off. The adrenaline rush from the purchase lasted only a few days or weeks at the most.
The same thing happens when you have ‘emotional credit’ in your hands. The solution is to actually have a sustainable ‘emotional income’ to maintain the monthly or daily ‘emotional payments’ for whatever it is that you ‘purchased emotionally’.
Where do you get this income then? An easy way to find out your ‘emotional bank account balance’ is to answer the simple question: “How do I feel right now?” Go ahead, answer the question out loud. Whatever your answer was, what was the feeling that came out of it? If you answered “Ok, I guess..” then look at the answer you just gave yourself and question it.
If you feel “ok”, then why just “ok”? What would you rather feel? If you answered “I don’t know” to the previous question, think about it. Why would you not know how you want to feel? If I asked you how your bank account was, and asked you how much money you would rather have, then I’m sure you could come up with answers other than “I don’t know.”
The truth is, we are more in touch with our bank accounts than we are with our emotions. Most people shut themselves out from their emotions because – hey, let’s face it, emotions can be very painful sometimes. A lot of people who say they’re “OK” are just numbed out. They are so deep in apathy that they would rather not feel anything, because they’re afraid that if they open up to themselves and other people, they’d get hurt again.
So what should we feel everyday of our lives? IMHO, we were born happy. And we should stay happy. New born babies are always happy, peaceful. This applies to all babies, whether they’re born to a rich family, poor family, janitor or president father, supermodel mom, none of those stuff seem to matter. Babies are happy for no reason whatsoever.
That’s our natural ability, that if put into use, would provide the emotional capital to keep up the monthly emotional payments to achieve our goals. Along the way, we forget about this natural resource and try instead to use the logical mind to analyze our way through life often with minimal results.
So from now on, whenever you feel less than happy, you know that you emotional bank account is running low. Instead of getting another credit card and getting deeper into debt, why not look for a proper source of income to get the emotional capital to achieve whatever dreams you have.
I’ll cover that in “How to have a stable emotional income”