For a long time I’ve suffered from an odd problem. I find myself bursting with enthusiasm over a certain task, but when it comes to doing it, I freeze. It feels like there’s an invisible rock preventing my first step. No matter how much I try to overcome it, go around it, remove it – it doesn’t work. I stopped struggling because I knew that there was more to this than meets the eye. I knew that there was an inner disparity between my motivation and my feelings. In the past, I’d pressurize myself and berate myself for my ‘laziness’, ending up depleted and defeated. But as I’ve come to understand the workings of myself and my feelings, I understood that inner resistance wasn’t a sign of laziness but a sign of incongruity. Instead of killing the messenger, I developed the practice of looking for the underlying message.
Today I thought I had to get to the bottom of things. I started researching on intrinsic motivation and pored over the articles I found, trying to draw parallels to personal experience. Dan Pink’s talk on motivation did it for me. He mentioned the building blocks for intrinsic motivation as being autonomy, mastery, and purpose ; and when I took a hard look at my approach, I found a glaring absence of these intricate qualities.
I was forcing myself to comply to a certain regimen as opposed to just doing what I can, how I can. I’d stifle my erratic reading habits because I ‘had’ to focus on one book at a time, and read it to completion. I had to work out in a certain way for x amount of time because that was the way established– you know those fitness freaks with toned muscles up to their eyes– did their stuff, so they must know better. This was the invisible block I felt; I was limiting myself severely by insisting on doing things by the book and hence I lost the little enthusiasm I had. This was a very cheeky bout of perfectionism that had meddled in my affairs for a long time undetected. Uncovering this was very relieving, albeit a bit unsettling. I mean, the notion of reading a book as little or as much I wanted to then move over to the next title that interested me, was very unconventional and felt a bit wrong. But I am no stranger to doing things in odd ways, and what’s more important to me is to develop my self-efficacy no matter the outcomes. It’s not about reading X amount of books to completion, or losing X amount of weight. It’s about regaining my self-confidence that has been long lost to the decaying nature of perfectionism. It’s about having enjoying myself for once without that constant chatter in my mind pecking at me with a titanium beak. I need to do things my way, no matter how radical it appears because at the end of it all, if I feel good about myself I’d most likely continue something far longer than if I’d shackle myself to inconvenient methods.