May 112006
 

I have been thinking about motivation a lot lately (because I tend to lose mine pretty quickly). One of the ways I think I can keep myself motivation is by reinforcement from the environment and surroundings. The key components of this type of reinforcement are direct surroundings, clothing and friends.

It is said that you shouldn’t study or work in bed. Otherwise your brain starts to associate going to bed as going to study and it becomes harder to fall asleep. This sort of conditioning works in a broader way as well as I will explore here. For example, if you adopt an agressive or confident stance, you will feel more agressive or more confident. You can try it out for yourself by standing tall and crossing your arms for a little while. Depending on how sensitive you are to changes in yourself, you might notice a slight shift in how you react to things. For example, if you normally simply accept tough situations, you might start thinking about why this is happening to you and get angry about it if you stand in that posture thinking about it. Another, and more direct, example of conditioning is in training a dog. If you ring a bell before you give it food, the dog will come to associate that sound with food, and start salivating simply by hearing the bell. In that way, I intend to introduce concepts that will help you condition your emotions and feelings in certain circumstances.

"A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind" – I don’t know who said that but it speaks some truth about the importance of your environment. A messy mind leads to a messy desk but it works the other way around, too. Look at your surroundings. Look at where you normally work and determine if it helps you to think clearly. If you have to hunt for a pen, then you have some reorganizing to do. Try to keep your work space tidy and neat, and keep your working materials at hand. This article may help you get more organized, as well as give you some ideas about your workspace:
http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/getting-organized.htm

Another important thing to keep in mind is how you use a computer. I have one computer so I do everything on it: chat with friends, watch movies and tv shows, surf the web, work. However, I’ve accidently conditioned myself to use the computer only for entertainment because I don’t use it for work that much, so I have created another profile on the computer which has no (obvious) links to MSN, or Azureus, or my collection of tv shows and other things. By not being able to quickly access that stuff and only working when I switch over there, I am conditioning myself to get into work mode when I switch to that profile. I would encourage others to do the same. At least try it out for a few days and see how you like it. Trying never hurt anyone.

The other factor to keep in mind is your clothes. Your pajamas are for sleeping in, not for doing work in. Find some clothes that speak professionalism to you but are comfortable and wear those when you want or have to work. Wearing the part will help you get into work mode more easily. It might help you to visualize what sort of things those clothes represent, and what kind of person you want to be while you wear those clothes. You might imagine yourself wearing some business casual clothing working hard but without stress, getting things done instead of procrastinating and enjoying yourself instead of being miserable.

The last thing that I want to talk about in your environment are your friends. What kind of people you hang around do affect you in a lot of ways. You might think otherwise, but they do. For example, I used to have friends who were shy, negative and self-critical and that kept me down for three years. Once I moved away from them, I was able to realize the influence they had on the way I thought. I had become shy, negative and self-critical by hanging out with people like that, even though I didn’t think that was possible. Once I realized this, I simply started hanging out with them less and less and sort of let the relationships fade away (it helped that most of the relationships were stressed and breaking up anyway). It is important to surround yourself with people who you respect and enjoy being with. Try to find people who are like yourself, have similar goals and values. Finding people like you want to be is a great way to motivate yourself to change. Hanging around successful people will help you succeed. For example, I’m starting to hang out with people who work hard, are honest, ambitious, have integrity and are successful or want success and I think that’s helping me in achieving my goals. I am looking for good people who are fun to be around but are also determined and I am proud to say I know a few of them.

It is also helpful to be around people who have the same interests as you do. It would definitely help if they’re better than you at whatever it is because there is much you can learn from them. Keep in mind, however, that you want it to be a mutually beneficial relationship, so be appreciative of their advice and try to help them out if you can.

There’s food and Colbert waiting for me so I must be off; I will finish editing this later. I hope this helps at least one person, and you can find more information about this sort of thing at stevepavlina.com.

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