Revel in the Process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line

Nothing is ever completely abandoned.

I become discouraged from projects without much discouragement. I make lofty long term goals and remind myself of them to stay motivated. But I still get so discouraged. I learned I’m going about it all wrong. These scientists concluded,

External rewards can backfire. Offer a child treats for making pretty drawings and whereas they used to scribble away for the sheer joy of it, now they’ll only put pen to paper for that candy you promised. The difference here is that Fishbach and Choi believe that our intrinsic motivation can be imperilled even without the offer of rewards from a third party. By focusing on the ultimate goals of an activity, we risk destroying our intrinsic motivation all by ourselves…

Visualize your goals to help get yourself started in the first place, but once you’re underway, try to let your long-term mission fade a little into the background. Revel in the process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line. (via 99%)

I always thought it’d be the other way around. I focus on having a book finished and published. I don’t even think about it selling well, just published. But my focus should be in the moment of the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter, the characters, etc.

But what happens when you get stuck, when it’s not any fun, when the present moment sucks and won’t make any progress?

One way to move toward creative thinking (heating the crystal) when your thinking has crystallized is to forget your problem and think about some other unrelated subject. Then conceptually blend the two dissimilar subjects to provoke different thinking patterns in your brain. These new patterns will make new connections which will give you different ways to focus your attention and different ways to interpret what you are focusing on. It is impossible to think of two or more dissimilar subjects, no matter how unrelated, without connections being formed.

Think for a moment about a pinecone. What relationship does a pinecone have with the processes of reading and writing? In France, in 1818, a 9-year-old boy accidentally blinded himself with a hole puncher while helping his father make horse harnesses. A few years later the boy was sitting in the yard thinking about his inability to read and write when a friend handed him a pinecone. He ran his fingers over the cone and noted the tiny differences between the scales. He conceptually blended the feel of different pinecone scales with reading and writing, and realized he could create an alphabet of raised dots on paper so the blind could feel and read what was written with it. In this way, Louis Braille opened up a whole new world for the blind. (via PT)

I did this very thing, started thinking about paintings on iPads and then my brain was making all kinds of connections and metaphors to the main subject on my mind.

What’s your intrinsic motivation?
What has you stuck?

13 thoughts on “Revel in the Process and you’re more likely to make it to the finishing line

    • Yes, probably. I don’t think the study included church goers, but I could see where it might apply. I don’t think it extends that far though. However, those three years the disciples spent with Jesus were transformative years. I bet they looked back on them with some pride and longing. That was a world changing process. The study is looking at more health-type endeavors. Yoga and flossing were two examples.

      • Yeah–that probably wasn’t the link I meant to send you, on second thought (there’s a Desiring God) book, but I think the basic discussion applies. Yoga and flossing–haha!

  1. Lovely and insightful post! Recently I have been stuck on a scene of my WIP. I just can’t seem to get past it. No matter what I do I’m not happy with it write now. So, I decided to take a short break and gain some perspective. Figure out where my character so go next.

    Focusing on the end goal does get you discombobulated. When I think of my thesis as a whole, I get so discouraged. It’s such a big project. But, when I think about writing the proposal, researching, writing an introduction and so on, I feel better. Its about the journey of the creative process.

  2. again sir, you continue to speak to my writing soul. keep up the good work and thanks for a post that keeps our feet firmly on the ground and in the now.

  3. This reminds me of coaching athletes, when many youth athletes play only for praise or hoping for the next thing, or ONLY to win. Try to inspire the joy of movement, the passion in competition, the comrederie in teamwork, the satisfaction of victory, or the learning and growth from defeat.

    1st is Internal: the pleasure of just doing/writing, and also because in the end there is something I can enjoy when I am done or I will have to share with others.

    2nd is External motivation: I deliberately set up a deadline (paint myself into a corner) like inviting guests for dinner or other event, or a date when something MUST be due.

    3rd is a Secondary External Motivation: Have someone come over to “help” me (ask about what I need to do next, what can they do for me, then make lunch/clean my kitchen/take my family away from the house after I get back in the groove. After I get back into what I was supposed to be doing then it’s really not so bad.

    WHAT HAS ME STUCK: Finishing the 2 indices on my garden reference.
    (All this while trying to manage school questions, laundry, cooking, phone calls, doctor appointments, animals asking for food/attention, son beat-boxing in background, children/husband starting conversations with me when I have finally got going, people coming to the door, shopping and so on. I love my family, but sometimes I REALLY need a place to go where no one will bother me and I have no responsibilities.)

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