Motivation

Nov. 9th, 2014 05:45 pm
juliet: Part of a Pollock artwork in the Tate (art - pollock)
Recently it feels a bit like I've lost my motivation to do things that I am usually intrinsically motivated to do (ie which I do for the fun of doing them). This is particularly true of "hard" things, but yesterday I sat in my room staring out of the window and occasionally checking Twitter for much of the day because I couldn't even see any likely enjoyment from even low-stress things like reading or watching something.

One possible reason for this is straightforward exhaustion, coupled with overwhelm (too much to do, too little time).

But I also found myself wondering if the process of getting better at extrinsic motivation and goal-setting has torpedoed my intrinsic motivation.

There's plenty of general evidence that extrinsic rewards can damage intrinsic motivation. But my own personal extrinsic rewards are of the "tick off an item on my to do list" variety (I get absurdly motivated by a tickybox, especially if it is a real box tickybox not just crossing an item off. I am ridiculous.). Is it reasonable that they might do the same thing as a tenner handed over by another person?

Tickybox motivation is of course just fine for things like doing chores or going to the post office or remembering to send invoices. But with things like writing or making something, the general productivity advice I read is always about setting long-term goals, then dividing them into short-term goals: write x hundred/thousand words a day, get this part of this project done by this deadline, that sort of thing. Sure, without some kind of goal or destination, you don't know where you're going at all. But I've done a lot of this sort of major/middle/micro goal-setting this year for important projects and I find myself feeling steadily less inspired. Which was not the aim.

I am not sure I have a solution. I'm not sure I'm even tackling the right problem. (See above re tiredness.)

My current thought is to come at it from another angle, by heavily limiting the number of genuinely ticky-box things I have on my list each week, according to my estimate of how long they'll take. So I only have x hrs of those things. Then all the rest of the time is for the important stuff, for which I have an overall goal but (in this new approach) no daily/weekly tickyboxes.

However, this is for next month. For this month I am ditching all the important projects (inc Nano, which I only started last week; oh well) in favour of a more important project of "not doing anything in an attempt to recuperate my brain a bit". See above re tiredness and lack of interest in things that previously engaged me. (Obviously this excludes child-care; and I have no paid-work deadlines this month due to doing them all last month.) Radical self-care. I find this a terrifying notion. I will report back.

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