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Wednesday, August 14, 2013


If something is important to you, then you will do it. My problem with the idea of motivation is that, in its absence, there is nothing to be done. With motivation, on the other hand, certain things just become eminently doable. If the time and effort is going where it should, then there is no reason to "get motivated." The motivation is intrinsic to the activity itself.

So motivation only enters negatively, when there is a gap between what somebody claims they want to do, and the amount of time and effort spent in that direction. Or time and effort is spent to undermine the stated goal.

I believe that if it is important for me to weigh 155 pounds, and not 165, then I will weigh that much. If I only claim I really want to be 155, then my claim that it is hard, or impossible, for me to weigh 155 is an empty one. I must conclude that weighing 165 is fine and comfortable with me, because that is what I actually weigh. It is something wholly under my control, or so I believe. I could weigh 145 if I wanted to be one of those obsessive, 6% body-fat athletes. That's within my control too. I don't happen to want that, even in a kind of vague "wouldn't it be nice" kind of way.

It is more important to me to see other human beings when I eat than to save money by cooking for myself at home. I could never go out by myself again when I am at home in Kansas. That is completely under my control. But I know that it is not as important for me as not eating alone.

Claiming to want something is not the same as really wanting it. I see my graduate students really working to position themselves to be good college teachers in a SLAC. They usually accomplish this goal.


Vance Maverick said...

I believe Yoda had something to say about this. Not that I've seen the movie. But I'm not quite convinced -- there is indeed a "Shadow" that can fall "between the conception / And the creation". Or so I've heard.

profacero said...

Yes, shadow.

You have to unequivocally like what you are doing, or unequivocally want the sure result of doing it. As in: I really want to register in this school next term, don't just think I need to, but want to, therefore I will pass this term. Ambivalence or lack of freedom at any level clouds motivation, and lack of means can block it.

What else goes into the shadow? I want to become super-strong but it isn't happening. Theoretically I could write my paper and work out, but instead I write my paper and read the news, more horrified by the day.