On Turning Motivational Media Into Entertainment

I’m not motivated to do my workout today. Going outside to set up the gym rings, while a five minute task at maximum, seems to be a massive obstacle that I don’t want to face. Thinking that a quick shot of motivation might be what I need, I sit down at the laptop and pull up a motivational Youtube video, complete with epic music…

A quick application of some bastardized psychology (that nonetheless is logically sound to me, and is slightly supported by anecdotal experience): reading and watching too much “motivational” stuff is even more counterproductive than I previously thought, because of a response similar to classical conditioning.

I’ve discovered that when I’m not motivated to do something, it occasionally helps to watch a short video or view a picture that’s motivational.

When I do it for too long, however, is when the trouble starts: the motivation peaks and then starts fading away, until half an hour’s passed and I still haven’t done anything.

That seems innocent enough, even if a little disappointing; hell, it happens to everyone, right?

Problem: do it too many times, and that’ll more than likely become a habit. No motivation gives way to consuming media gives way to… doing nothing.

It’s almost like classical conditioning (e.g., Pavlov’s dogs); an association forms between the initial stimuli of motivational material, and the habitual response gets cemented as ‘view more’, instead of the ‘do the thing’, as it should.

That’s why it seems even more counterproductive to me than previously thought. Not only is the thing you want to do getting done, you’re creating a habit that will turn a motivational tool against you.

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