In the subtle fabric of our day to day routine, every now and again we allow some red stripes to mingle in. Sooner or later, those stripes will unweave the whole mechanism. I’m sure you’ve experienced it too: the day goes on fabulously, everything falls into places, and then, apparently out of nowhere, some small, tiny thing happens and that thing breaks the entire process. Suddenly, you feel down, you don’t have any drive to go on and all you want to do is to whine on somebody else’s shoulder about how pitiful your life is.
Those red stripes are demotivating habits. We all have them and, on a very unconscious level, we’re all allowing them to manifest every once in a while. The problem with those demotivating habits is that we’re not always seeing them as demotivating habits. Many of them are just downgraded versions of normal reactions or, to be more precise, just facts. But we tend to interpret those facts in a diminishing way.
On a regular day, I get around 3 or 4 of these. I somehow learned to identify them, but I’m not always 100% correct. Their ability to disguise into legitimate actions still amazes me. So, for the sake of putting a name on their face and covering them with shame, I decided to write a post on this topic. Namely, about my top 7 demotivating habits.
1. The “Look, Something Shiny” Syndrome
Every time you allow your focus to get trapped into an allegedly pleasurable activity, by interrupting what you were doing, you are experiencing this demotivating habit. If you’re into social media, you know what I mean. Twitter or Facebook are the most popular shiny things which are invading our territory.
But there are many other versions of it. Starting a conversation with your office colleague, for instance. Looking outside of your office window. Turning on the TV, if you’re working from home. Calling a friend in the middle of something you’re just doing, only to find out “how is he doing lately”. All of these are forms of the “look, something shiny syndrome”.
Or doing too much too fast. I’m a very good candidate for this habit because I crave to see things happening. If things aren’t happening with the speed of light, I usually consider this to be a big problem. I want it now and I want it all. So, when I’m starting something, I’m totally immersing myself into it. Up to the point that I sometimes forget why I started it in the first place.
Overheating is a sign that you’re creating a lot of friction around you. Friction generates heat. And heat is a sure way to lose energy. There’s a certain time needed for each thing to come to fruition and if you’re trying to make it faster than it needs, then you’re setting yourself for failure. Demotivation, in this case, is just the first sign that you’re doing something wrong.
3. Fear Of Not Doing It Good Enough
I’m not doing this now because I’m not in the best shape for it. Or, I’m not having this meeting right now, because I’m not yet prepared. I’m not writing code, because I don’t master some inner workings of the app. Of course you should! You should have the meeting, you should write that code and you should adjust while you’re doing it.
Sometimes, things just have to be done. Not in a perfect way. Not even in a good way. Just done. But our need for recognition (which, at its core, is natural and legitimate) is tricking us into not doing them, because they will not be “good enough”. Of all these top 7 demotivating habits, this one is the most annoying (and the most common) to me.
4. Bad Physical Health
Luckily, I don’t have this problem anymore, because, in the last few years I paid close attention to my physical health. But there was a time when this was a major problem. For instance, smoking. It’s an addiction which creates a short wave of endorphins, followed by a much longer period of dumbness and lack of focus.
Overeating, drinking too much, or even exercising too much are also symptoms that you’re lowering your chances to get things done by simply ruining your physical health. And, believe it or not, having a good physical health is a matter of habits. Habits which will enforce a healthy lifestyle, that is.
5. Breaking It Into Meaningless Details
It’s the “analysis paralysis” syndrome. Or, in terms of Assess – Decide – Do, it’s about being stuck in the Assess realm for ever. The need to analyze your problem and making it actionable is fundamental. You can’t do something in a reliable way if you’re not having a clear image about how you’re going to do it.
But spending all your time dissecting your tasks, projects, goals or attitudes in smaller and smaller chunks of data will eventually paralyze you. One of my business partners had this habit and I had an incredibly hard time working with him because of that.
6. “It Doesn’t Really Matter”
If you set yourself for doing something, do it. During the day you may encounter contexts which can take you out of your normal state. You may be caught in something that seems to have a higher priority. Well, instead of avoiding doing what you planned, you should reschedule. Put a different priority on those tasks, but still commit to do them.
If you’re falling for this habit, you’re becoming a drifting, course-less ship on a lonely ocean. It’s true that priorities are changing during the day. Which means you should change your priorities too, but not get rid of the stuff you wanted to do just because now it “seems” unimportant.
7. Others Are Doing It Better Than Me
That’s the most common demotivating habit I’m seeing around myself in the last few years. Deep down, people are not doing things simply because they like doing things, or because doing things will make them feel better. Nope. They’re doing things because of the competition, because they want to win something (money, recognition, validation, you name it). And when the other guys are doing those things better, there’s no reason to continue, right?
It’s a fundamental mistake. And it manifest at a very deep level. Doesn’t matter if somebody is a better “pick-your-quality-here” than you. Because it’s not about them. It’s about you. Your experiences. Your days and nights. Your life.
Don’t hand it to somebody else.