Motivation Zen

As individualists and members of a neo-liberalist post-modernity, we are often inclined to deal with questions of freedom, self-determination, and access to attractive contexts of experience, consumer options, and interaction partners.

In short, we believe in a happiness that seems to be linked to the general circumstances of our lives. And that’s why we pay great attention to self-determination and self-empowerment when it comes to the question of our happiness.

In fact, however, many studies prove that happiness depends rather on whether and how we experience ourselves as effective and successful. And that experience actually depends in part on our ability to act effectively. But more important is the question of how we judge and evaluate our actions.

We have learned how important it is to work with manageable tasks. We have learned how important the stories are that we tell ourselves about our actions, our success, and our effectiveness. And we have dealt with the importance of a fundamental attitude toward learning and research in our lives.

If we take care of these always available approaches to motivation, then we tap into our ambition

And at the same time, with experience and the processing of these experiences, we create a reliable foundation for this ambition. But beyond that, we find something else.

There is something exciting, perhaps surprising, about these findings. How we evaluate our success and learning is entirely in our power. These avenues are always available free from the external conditions of our lives.

And that way, we can learn something essential for our lives: access to our happiness is always available

Our happiness depends much less on our external conditions than we sometimes tend to believe.

So, while we have a strong tendency to focus on our circumstances and the big questions of vocation, social environment, and life partner, it might be worth turning our priorities upside down.

It could be worthwhile to continuously turn to the question of how we can successfully act and learn in this present moment. That’s why the focus of this course is on how we can tap into our ambition and strengthen our motivation. And we have taken great care of answering those questions. We have found the first, perhaps also essential, answers to the question of how we can act successfully and learn.

As we have seen, we are neither dependent on external discipline nor on our willpower. Quite the opposite. Perhaps we believe in the ego-depletion theory. The experience we have every day seems even more reliable. Accordingly, external discipline and willpower are great, but not very reliable sources of our motivation. Good habits make sense. But this only helps when we have integrated the appropriate habits into our lives. And this can be an almost impossible undertaking if we approach it with great euphoria and exhilarating intentions. We have learned that too.

But there is something we can rely on

With small, manageable tasks, we continuously create two ways to experience ourselves as effective. We either experience ourselves as successful. Or we learn something. And more often than expected, we experience both at the same time.

Based on manageable tasks and continuous learning, we can create many things that we want to create within the framework of our resources and the laws of physics. The euphoria that may infest us in the face of big projects undermines our motivation. It’s better to avoid the intoxication of big goals in a productive manner. A good way to do this is to put into practice the various tools of productivity, which we summarize under the label “Project Management”.