Day 13… The Motivation Fuel Tank…

Motivation is limited, and there's physical science behind why. It's not an issue of being a good or bad person. Remember me mentioning The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg? I still can’t recommend it enough. As Duhigg suggests in his book, habits are formed when tasks are repeated enough to seat into the basal ganglia. The brain works this way to be efficient, which is critical to our survival.

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When we first learn something, say tying our shoes, our brain lights up, processing information. Our higher-reasoning frontal lobes explode with electrical activity. This intense brain work burns off a massive amount of glucose. Here’s an over the top boring article about it… Well… as we perform the

task over and over again, the process gets seated in our basal ganglia, and we can do it while the rest of the brain takes a big rest, which is important. As I type here, my fingers know exactly where to go to keep the words flowing, while my higher reasoning is free to think about the message I’m imparting. There would be no way to function if the frontal lobes had to do all the work all the time.

It's this habit system that allows us to stack certain skills on top of one another, improve, form a coherent self esteem, etc. etc. Yes, even our self-image is stored in the basal ganglia. Self-esteem is largely based on feedback from other people, and the most formative times are when we are very young, and of course, those who raise us (as they’re around all the time) are the most impactful on this as we’re around them the most. But more on that in another post. I need to get the core of this post.

The thing is, when we try something new, we have to use the higher reasoning portions of our brains, which taxes our self-control. One thing we often do when we get motivated is to start thinking of ALL the changes we’re going to make, we start the day excited and bushy tailed and then end the day exhausted. The next day? No damn way. Back to sleeping in, negative thinking, and ice cream.

The GREAT thing about this is, if we take this into consideration, we can make real change. The core is, GRADUAL change. We pick one thing we want to change, say, getting up on time. Then, instead of going to the gym and meditating and saving a kitten and so on, we just get up on time. Then, we do that for 21-90 days. When we have that down… we take on a new thing… because… getting up on time will not exhaust us because it’s been driven into our basal ganglia. I’ll continue on this path tomorrow about motivation and how this relates to my project…

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