It’s Thursday, 8 PM. I’m relaxing at home, doing normal things, and scrolling social media. Tomorrow is a big day. There are lots of things to do with moving pieces of furniture because I’m moving to another city. On top of that, a repairman is coming to my house at 8AM, so I’ll have to get up early.
I plan to relax, buy some chips, and watch Netflix. After all, there’s lots to be done tomorrow. When scrolling social media, I notice a post from a girl I used to date back in time. The post contained her having a great time with a boy, who seemed to be her new boyfriend.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel like buying snacks and watching Netflix. I felt an exciting feeling of both motivation and melancholy. This caused me to set an alarm at 5:40 on the next morning, and storm through different tasks. This phenomenon is something I call “dark motivation”. Today, I’d like to explain what it is, and how you can use it to your advantage.
What is dark motivation?
Dark motivation is a form of motivation that is based on a certain urge to complete tasks and improve yourself in any way possible. It’s caused by different feelings that are negative, but very powerful. It’s natural for a human being to feel jealousy, insecurity, and the urge to compare. Although it’s good to let go of those feelings, they can sometimes be a great resource.
When I saw that post, I felt like I wanted to make progress. My subconscious wanted me to feel good because seeing that girl with another boy caused some negative emotions. And one of the best ways for me to feel good is to improve myself somehow.
Dark motivation is a very powerful way to motivate you to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself towards your goals. The pain of sitting at home and doing nothing urged me to exit that situation by taking action. Even when I ended up getting too little sleep.
“We Generate Fears While We Sit. We Overcome Them By Action.” – Dr. Henry Link
Examples of dark motivation
Dark motivation can be caused by pretty much any negative emotion. These emotions include jealousy, insecurity, anxiety, discomfort, and anything like that.
When you see someone you dislike being in incredible shape, you’ll probably feel motivated to work out. When you get fired from a job, you’ll feel motivated to seek a high-paying job and advance in your career. Or you may be motivated to improve your social skills after a break-up.
Dark motivation relies entirely on negative emotions. Some people could even say they’re immature and childish. However, they’re natural for us and you can definitely use them to your advantage.
See, when you improve your career after getting fired, some part of your mind wants to get revenge on your boss and make them regret their decision. When you date people after a break-up, some part of your mind wants to make your ex jealous and prove that you’re better without them.
These forms of motivation are usually more powerful than motivation in normal situations. An urge to move away from pain is way stronger than a desire to move towards pleasure.
How to use dark motivation to your advantage
Spicing up your motivation with these feelings is like adding a strong supplement to your workout routine. It will be very effective, but it can be harmful if you use it too much. See, if you constantly compare yourself and let jealousy and insecurity take over, you’ll probably face problems with your mental health.
My advice is this. Remember that you don’t need to compare yourself to other people, and achievements don’t make anyone a better human being. True confidence comes from inside, and you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.
However, dark motivation is very beneficial if you use it every now and then. When you know there’s something you should do but you don’t feel like doing it, try to add some dark motivation and see how you feel.
Next time you know you should work out or complete a task, dig deep into your mind. See if there’s a certain feeling of insecurity or jealousness that can motivate you. And once you’ve completed the task, let it go. It may feel uncomfortable for a while, but nothing great in life comes without effort.
We all have some insecurities and underlying emotions that can be used as dark motivation, so why not use them to your advantage? Learn to control them in a way that they don’t bother you in your everyday life, but you can expose them when you need to. This is the best way to use dark motivation to your advantage.
This was my guide about dark motivation. It’s possible that you know this phenomenon by a different name, but the principles are the same. With a little bit of practice, you can channel your negative emotions into bursts of motivation and eventually be grateful for having them!
Use dark motivation with caution though. I guess you want to be a happy person in general. Apply it in a way that doesn’t harm the overall quality of your life, but is just enough to keep you improving yourself constantly!
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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