Two absurdly easy hacks for motivating yourself to do ANYTHING

I’m not going to sit down and hammer out 4500 words today, I tell myself, as I know that I very well may.


Funny, how an intention to do one simple thing completely takes over my day as it transforms into 1) a marathon or 2) the first leg of an ever-growing relay race. Next thing I know, it’s been 12 hours straight of working my now-3 jobs (fuck me) and I’ve forgotten to take care of myself allllll day.


I don’t want anyone to fall into this hole that I put myself in everyday. Seriously, I might be hyper productive, but I also get hyper miserable.


BUT I do want to share the two super easy hacks that will trick your brain into helping you accomplish anything you’ve been putting off.


Updating your resume, making a budget, getting in shape, finding a therapist. Whatever it is, the first step is the largest obstacle to overcome.


That internal resistance. The thought that “nothing matters” or “you can’t do it right, anyways.” The voice that tells you it’s impossible. Or, the sense that you need to feel inspired to get started, and maybe that will all shift on its own tomorrow.


Once you get over the initial climb to take the first step, though, have faith that everything will start to fall into place. You just need to quiet your inner critic and get going.


Here’s how I like to do it! In less than 4500 words.


Easiest hacks to trick your brain into action


1) “It’s just an experiment, anyways.”


You know what’s mysterious and full of unknowns to explore? Everything in life.


When you’re considering starting a new project, learning a new skill, or just rearranging your schedule to include that workout sesh you keep putting off… bitch, just see it as it is. An experiment in finding out what works for you and what doesn't.


When you’re considering starting a new project, learning a new skill, or just rearranging your schedule to include that workout sesh you keep putting off… bitch, just see it as it is. An experiment in finding out what works for you and what doesn't.

Until you start trying that thing you’re putting off, you won’t know if you like it or not. You can’t predict the effect it’ll have on your brain or your physical condition. You won’t know if you’re surprisingly naturally talented at a novel activity, or if you just love the process so much that it doesn’t even fucking matter if you aren’t.


This is how I got myself into all sorts of new behaviors, activities, and mental health management practices. Hiking, meditating, controlling my anxiety, driving, podcasting, blogging, new mediums of art, jogging, getting out of the house in the first place…


For all of these new, scary frontiers, I just framed everything as something I was comfortable with – running experiments. Trials to see if I get a positive or negative result. Only this time, instead of looking through a fluorescent microscope, I look at my own responses and the results in my life.


For all of these new, scary frontiers, I just framed everything as something I was comfortable with – running experiments. Trials to see if I get a positive or negative result. Only this time, instead of looking through a fluorescent microscope, I look at my own responses and the results in my life.

I think “experimental” thinking is helpful for a few reasons.


It lowers the resistance to start. Framing it as an experiment and yourself as a curious scientist helps because you’re more detached from the whole process. It’s not about your personal abilities or who you are as a human, it’s just a fucking experiment to see if your brain appreciates or abhors what you’re trying to do. You can be interested and curious rather than stressed and self-defeating.


It makes you check in throughout the process to find your data points for later analysis. You won’t be so prone to dissociation when you’re making a conscious effort to see how you’re responding to new activities. Exercising, for example, you’ll more readily notice what feels good and what’s terrible, which means you’ll actually be in your damn body and present in the moment.


It forces you to integrate the new information. New data easily gets “lost” in my brain when I’m not truly present or I have so much going on that I can’t process all the info at once. If you set yourself up for a “hypothesis, experiment, results, analysis” model, on the other hand, it helps to form a narrative about your experience. It “seals in” and validates the new knowledge, so you aren’t so prone to “forgetting” that you benefit from taking a spin around the block.


And hell, know that science is all about failure, for non-researchers out there.


When you get into that line of work, it’s a common joke that your entire career will be about failing. Developing hypothesis that you prove wrong. Running experiments that fail. Readjusting and reapproaching, all the time, for 50 years. But that’s the name of the game.


As a scientist, you’re looking for the truth, not for what builds your ego by proving a point. So, if you judge yourself based on your experimental results, motherfucker, you’re going to drop out of the field super quickly. Sounds a lot like living with mental health obstacles to me.

As a scientist, you’re looking for the truth, not for what builds your ego by proving a point. So, if you judge yourself based on your experimental results, motherfucker, you’re going to drop out of the field super quickly. Sounds a lot like living with mental health obstacles to me.


Science requires resilience, and so does this larger experiment we’re all running.



2) “Doing anything is better than doing nothing.”


This one is so simple, so universally applicable, and so effective. I wish that I told myself this for 30 years instead of 30 months.


Doing anything is better than doing nothing.


Thinking about finally working on that mental health problem with a therapist? Been meaning to start getting into shape for the past… 5 years? Freaked out about starting a huge artistic venture that feels so right but so arduous?


Dude… just do something.


Start browsing therapists with the right specialties located in your area or order a new audiobook on mental health. Take a 5-minute walk around the block – or just set the intention to get down the street and back. Decide to draw one line on your canvas today; use pencil if you’re not ready to commit to that much.


That’s it. Do something. No matter how small it is, it's closer than you were before.


Without a doubt – you literally cannot argue this with myself or with yourself – whatever you accomplish today, it’s better than doing nothing. It’s better than waiting for things to spontaneously fall into place tomorrow.


Without a doubt – you literally cannot argue this with myself or with yourself – whatever you accomplish today, it’s better than doing nothing. It’s better than waiting for things to spontaneously fall into place tomorrow.

i.e. Maybe you have 50lbs to lose, but walking for 5 minutes is moving you closer to that goal than sitting on the couch covered in the remnants of a bag of chips. Fact. No doubt about it.


This is how I motivate myself to do a LOT of things. Those morning hikes/jogs/walks that I fucking harass you with? You know, I REALLY fucking hate jogging and being up super early to rush out of bed, too.


How do you think I get out and do it every morning like clockwork, anyways? Not by telling myself “Get up and run 5 miles, you fat lard,” but by saying, “You feel like garbage today, and it’s okay - at least take a walk around the block, put on a podcast, and see how you're doing.”


What inevitably happens? I get in the flow, I feel better, and I don’t want to stop. I wind up going waaaaay farther, completing my normal distance, and jogging for at least a portion of it. (I’m not a runner, for anyone who mistakenly got that idea – I really hate it. Want that to be clear.)


That’s it. Do something. No matter how small it is, it's closer than you were before.

This will most likely happen for whatever activity you apply it to.


Next time you’re facing a monumental task or just can’t find the spark in your belly to go do the thing, remember that any effort you make is better than fucking yourself over for another day, building a taller obstacle, and doing nothing to benefit you.


Donezo


Alright, only… 1300 words or so, this time. Nice.


These days, after 10 years of being so depressed, stagnant, and demotivated, I’m too good at getting started; not great at stopping.


I need some new brain hacks for that. "Doing less is better than doing more?" Idk. Anyone got pointers for overachievers/slavedrivers? Send them my direction. Please.


I’m going to go get started on something else.



Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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