I love it when a blog post idea comes as a topic of conversation. This one I attribute to a friend I have met at Tiger Muay Thai, a transient, Australian individual in the stunt business (the profession of performing incredibly daring feats with the intent of making actors and actresses look far more capable than they actually are). This is a remarkably respectable profession, and should not be taken lightly.
I was informed by this friend that in Australia, the stunting “community” has a minimum standard. Stunt Book Australia has a grading system, based in competencies across six criteria. These are as follows.
The desire was there.
The problem came in the effort required. “But I’ve got too much going on! I’m too busy. I already do this, that and the other. I’m working on my fitness, my Muay Thai and I’m about to go SCUBA diving for the weekend! How am I supposed to make it happen?”
The desire was there, but the effort level required was too high. The bar to entry could not be cleared.
I choose to think of desire and effort as individual continua. Desire is how much you want something, and effort is what you have to apply in order to get it. This is how I choose to think about the terms in simple form, but the official definitions actually read as the below.
Desire can readily be both a noun and a verb, but it simply means to want something deeply. It is, in my opinion, a word not used enough. We should be desirous of many things – the highest priorities for me would be our passions, hopes and dreams, our goals and anything else positively life-improving that we may set our sights on. I believe that we should desire these things somewhere down deep in the pit of our stomach. They should fuel us, fire us up and fill us to the brim with the drive to head out into the world, attack the day and conquer all. Aggressive, I know.
But the fire does not burn so brightly for every person or for everything. We all have something within ourselves that we do consider as a goal but struggle for the motivation to push through on. It is a secondary priority. We may have difficulty finding the required effort. A personal example is something like languages, or learning a musical instrument. I have on many occasions been filled by the desire to engage with and practice both of these skills, and in numerous instances, I have even begun to start practising, otherwise known as applying a little effort. But the problem comes from balancing the see-saw between the two. The desire and the initial motivation begins to wane, and the monumental level of effort required to become proficient at these skills, let alone master them, is drawn quickly into stark contrast.
So how do you get over this hurdle? What can be done?
In my opinion, there are two options.
1. Increase the level of desire.
2. Decrease the required level of effort.
nEITHER THE DESIRE NOR THE EFFORT LEVEL ARE FIXED CRITERIA!!
Believe me when I say this. Desire is in effect a burst of initial motivation. Motivation is a powerful force, and it is the instigator of many changes in our lives, but it is also fallible and finite. This is our desire. When we set out on a new task, we desire it greatly, but as the process bogs down and the progress begins to slow this desire can wane. But there are many tricks available to us to increase our desire. Some of them are as follows.
TO Increase or Boost Desire
- Set a micro-goal – As soon as you set a goal (and by this I mean a SMART goal which is in effect a stepping stone towards your wider mission) you have a renewed burst of motivation to achieve the milestone mark.
- Bring the task into your routine – This is a great backstop for motivation. On days when you are feeling tired, or lethargic, or lazy, or demotivated, you can lean on your daily disciplines as a way to ensure you make the time to engage in a period of purposeful practice.
- Think about why you began in the first place – Take yourself back to those initial motivations and really consider them deeply. At some point, you were impassioned enough to want to begin this task. What’s changed? Do you still want it?
- Enjoy the journey, and savour the little wins – in alignment with point #1, remember to stop and smell the roses at times. It is not the final achievement of a goal that is truly satisfying, but the work towards that goal. Once you crest the mountain-top of a micro or macro goal, what do you think you will see? The view isn’t what you might expect. The likelihood is you will just be looking upon another, taller mountain. The hedonic treadmill is a powerful internal balancing mechanism that doesn’t allow us to rest on our laurels for too long. You will find a new goal, so just enjoy the journey towards your current one for if you are determined enough, eventually you will get to it.
There are numerous others, but these are some of the best.
To Decrease the Effort Hurdle
In the same vein, we can, in fact, reduce the required effort level. Black magic, I hear you say! The hurdle is monumental. How can I affect the effort level it will take to achieve this mammoth goal of mine?! By using tips and tricks to reduce the mental and physical tolls on yourself, that is how. See below for some examples.
- Break it down – A task that may seem gigantic when considered in a whole (such as learning a language, a musical instrument etc.) can be made tiny when broken down into a series of discrete steps. Start by learning a song, or learning three phrases enough to have a conversation on some topic that interests you.
- Make efficiencies – If you are trying to lose weight, don’t keep crap food available in the house! If it is there, then the required willpower to ignore it becomes exponentially higher. Chuck it all out, or give it away! It is worth the effort to make adherence to the disciplines required to achieve your goal as easy as humanly possible!!
- Get an accountability buddy – When you’re doing something alone, the effort level required can be almost infinitely more. If due to work commitments, for example, you have to get up at 5 A.M. to get your workout in before your day begins, it is going to be challenging for any night-owl type. But if you have agreed to meet a friend or even a work colleague, suddenly getting up to that alarm seems a fair bit easier.
- Seek out a mentor or coach – Someone who’s walked the path already will be able to help you avoid pitfalls, and make your learning experience smoother at every turn. Please note, this doesn’t even have to be a person any more! Sites like YouTube and Instructables can make for wonderful coaches, with the plethora of information that’s out there, as can numerous self-development books.
These lists are not exhaustive. But hopefully seeing this post will inspire my friend to pick up that activity that’s been sitting waiting by the wayside, and maybe encourage a.n.other to consider picking up that thing they’ve been waiting to start. I’ve been putting off blogging for the better part of a year. Thankfully I got a kick up the ass myself. I guess I had found myself an accountability buddy and/or a mentor, and the effort level that it would take me to write my thoughts long-form suddenly seemed that much lower.