Do you ever wonder why you can’t get motivated? When you try to move a heavy boulder, it requires more force at the beginning than it needs to keep moving. It’s because of static friction vs. dynamic friction. Static friction is what keeps the boulder from moving without being pushed, and dynamic friction is the force that resists the movement once in motion. The static friction is always higher between two surfaces because more forces are working together to resist movement. Think about this application the next time you want to get started on something.
The Reason You Can’t Get Motivated
Like all heavy objects, when starting something new, it’s a challenge to get going:
-Getting to the gym in the morning can be a challenge.
-Not working so late in the evenings can be a challenge.
-Eating healthy foods can be a challenge.
Whatever the challenge is, It’s a form of static friction that holds us back. When a behaviour is a habit, we apply it automatically without having to think. When a behaviour is non-habitual, even contemplating the action requires thinking, creating more friction. So what makes it harder to get started?
For the most part, we let our motivation get in the way of progress. We strive to solve a challenge all at once, instead of starting small and working into a routine. Think about these examples:
-Contestants on The Biggest Loser exercised for 4-5 hours per day, which is unlikely sustainable in the real world. Just one of the reasons as to why recent contestants have struggled upon returning home from the show.
-An employer who requests employees to work hours of overtime, causing burnout. The consistent work becomes unsustainable, and the employees seek out another job position.
-You learn a new skill on the weekend and spend all day practicing, only to go back to work on Monday and never come back to it. Rather than consistent practice, you try to learn it all in one day.
What’s in our head quite often is different from the actions that help get us there. We lack the knowledge of being deliberate in practice and consistency. Due to the reality of instant gratification, our desire to make transformations and start something new poses its difficulties. So how can you create a balance to make transformation consistent?
When you were younger, you performed day to day habits that had been built which exist today. Brushing your teeth morning and night, putting your seatbelt on in the car, eating breakfast after you wake up. Your parents always gave you reminders, and now they are tiny actions that require no thought. To form a new habit and start something new requires a small change that your brain can quickly learn from and repeat. It begins with thinking of your goals as daily behaviours. A powerlifter may plan to deadlift 300kg, but they cannot achieve it unless they steadily increase their weights over time. Typically we use motivation and willpower to keep us going, which only lasts for so long. Small daily behaviours can last a lifetime.
Friction management is actively designing and redesigning your environment. It is used to make it easier in performing habits we want to strengthen and make it harder to perform the habits we want to break. One of my goals in 2021 is to write more articles and finish my book. I’ve come across friction management, which Is something I’m keen to put into practice. I’ve scheduled in time to edit and create ideas in the afternoon instead of previously doing it in the morning after writing. This should allow my output to increase by focusing on just the act of writing in the morning.
When you can’t get motivated, Identify changes to your environment to make it harder to perform an old behaviour. Then identify changes to your environment to make it easier to perform a new behaviour
Change Your Style, Change Your Life
When applying new behaviours, It’s a challenge not to get obsessed over life-changing decisions.
-Buying a house is life-changing, saving $500 per month is a lifestyle.
-Losing 30kg is life-changing; eating healthy is a lifestyle.
-Publishing a book is life-changing, writing 1000 words a day is a lifestyle.
-Running a marathon is life-changing, running a few times a week is a lifestyle.
Having goals provide direction where your actions offer reality. Focusing too much on life-changing goals can trick your mind into taking on more than you can handle. What would happen if the powerlifter could only lift 100kg, but continued to attempt 300 kilograms? There would be too much static friction, and they wouldn’t be able to get the weight off the ground. Focusing on the little, and daily routines are what’s needed when you can’t get motivated.