I’ve been reflecting on what motivates various people. This started about a week ago when I read a fitness-related article. Its premise was that some people are externally motivated to improve their health—lose weight for a wedding or reunion, win an office bet, etc.—while others are internally motivated. This second group simply likes healthy food and enjoys exercise. Our task (the article was written for instructors) is to try to encourage a shift, so that what begins as an externally motivated fitness prioritization will transform into an internally driven one, thereby resulting in a permanent lifestyle change and results that will stick.
All kinds of tips and advice exist to help with the initial change. I call these the “tricks.” Examples include:
- Eat well for six days. Splurge one day a week.
- Break up exercise into shorter sessions.
- Reward yourself . . .
Thankfully, I enjoy healthy eating and look forward to exercise. Where fitness is concerned, I’m internally motivated.
Thing is, I’m an externally motivated writer, looking for my own “tricks” to change me into an internally motivated one. You may remember this idea that, like most tricks, worked for a little while and then lost my interest. I have other variations. They go something like this:
- Write for six days. Rest for one.
- Break up writing into shorter sessions.
- Reward myself.
I imagine that, for various reasons, almost all of us have played similar tricky mind games with ourselves at one point or another. It seems to me like it’s an attempt to identify an external motivation and practice it long enough that it becomes internal and habitual. Well. That is so much easier said than done.
Lots of writers say they love to write, can’t wait to sit down and get back into their story, and that their characters talk to them.
Not me. I want the story in my head to turn into a book by a means similar to a download. USB cable. Brain. Finished book.
Where is the button for this?!
In very special moments, I have experienced internal motivation to write and completed the task for the pure joy of it. Most of the time, I’m the “Mo-om, are we there yet?” kind of writer, but in those lucky writing sessions I’m the “It’s the journey, not the destination” writer. I’d love to be that person all the time.
I have a new trick this week. It’s very Franklin-Covey-esque and goes like this.
- Make a list of all the tasks that compete for attention in my head.
- Label them as important (long term goals) or urgent (short term requirements)
- Spend an hour each day on the urgent stuff first.
- Spend an hour each day on the important stuff second.
Right now my list looks like this:
- Finish a writing project I promised to an editor (urgent, due 2/1)
- This post (urgent, due 1/28)
- Work on the WIP (important)
- Answer an email from a Blogger guy (important)
- Read the panelists I’ll moderate at Left Coast Crime (important)
- Send in my Malice Domestic Nomination form (urgent, due 2/7)
- Make a call about my credit card (important)
- Make a call to my bank (important)
- Make some CDs for my Spinning classes (important)
- Renew my driver’s license (important)
It’s just a trick. I keep looking for one that will flip the permanent external-to-internal motivation switch.
Anybody out there relating to this, or have I just revealed further evidence that I’m weird?