How do you motivate yourself and get as much as possible out of your efforts? While my initial post was merely a reflection on having set goals in excess, West took the predicament and expanded upon it to devise a method of maximizing one’s productive time.
She offers the idea of setting goals one may loathe, in order to leave few choices but those which really matter. Ideally, you should be setting such anti-goals as things you should be doing anyhow, and just really hate to do. Merely setting a goal that you dislike and which is unnecessary as well, will have no real power to keep you cranking on those tasks you find most important.
Further, those anti-goals which one sets ought not be things which wouldn’t otherwise be disliked. Preferring the real task, you shouldn’t set others that you’d normally be happy doing, otherwise you may end up hating them unnecessarily. Or alternatively, they may simply divide your time, instead of directing it.
Normally, we look at life with a positive-in, negative-out approach, where we try to reap positive rewards and eschew negative results. This way, we can promote our enjoyment of whatever we’re working toward. We try to absorb the positives, instead of deflecting them, and we try to ignore every negative possible. Pessimists tend to absorb a larger quantity of negatives and as you drift further into the pessimistic realm, you’d find yourself reversing the whole practice to the point of ignoring the positives.
What if we can modify our experience by more intentional management of those inputs to promote a greater output? I’m sure many people already do this, many others still who have given this deep thought. What if, in order to maximize our positive output, we anticipate a greater-than-necessary negative input and fool the subconscious mind to slog through the anticipated negatives?
That’s not quite what West was saying, but it came up in my mental process. She’s saying that we may be able to focus ourselves more fully on our primary task, if all the alternatives aren’t very much fun. And she’s probably right.
However, my struggles with working on books aren’t so much motivation or inspiration as… mortgage… car payment… electric bill… and so on. There’s an enormous, truly paradoxical desire to exist as pure intellect. I’m not yet one of those fortunate few who make their living by thinking about things they want to think about. Tempting is the concept of being only intellect and therein loosed from the fleshy maintenance of the mortal coil. This thought approaches me through so many subjects that I’ve given it more thought than could possibly be crammed into a single post. However, to throw off those boundaries of the physical form (in any metaphysical context) would thoroughly invalidate the subjects which are the substance of intellectual pursuit. We’re trapped within the human form by more than the bare necessaries of sustaining it. How could a realm which is merely concepts conceive a story of the struggles which arise from the mortal form?
In the grand scheme, the things which plague our lives are the totality of experience and though we may dream of a life unencumbered by these hindrances, I suppose all of that intellect would be for naught, with little upon which to exact so pure a form of consideration. Though not perfectly analogous, it would be like a painter seeking to exceed the limitations of his canvas, to simply think about what he would like to paint, rather than painting it. Perhaps he’d enjoy it, but no one would ever be able to appreciate his thoughts as art. So to would escape from the physical world be a forsaking of all that it has to consider.
Nevertheless, it is possible that a more conscious observation and intentional arrangement of positive-in, negative-in filters might result in some tangible benefits. It’s surely worth giving some thought. Be sure to give E.A. West some thoughts of your own!