Acquiring Passion

The question is simple, how do you develop motivation?

There is so much I want to do, so many projects I want to accomplish.

I have a small business idea I’ve been slowly working on, but whenever I start working on it, I just stare at the page, until I start soemthing else.

I’ve got a genre-fiction novel I’ve started (and a few other ideas I’d like to write about), and I enjoy the writing when I’m writing, but can enver find the motivation to being.

I’d like to get in shape, work out, but whenever I start a work-out routine, it fizzles after a couple weeks.

Victor Pride answered this a month back:

It is only when you have fire for a project that you cannot quit, there is no option to quit. Rather than trying to force motivation you should only work on projects that fire you up. You’ll save yourself a ton of time and heartache. If you’ve got to force motivation then you should just go ahead and say “no”. It’s only when you can’t stop working on something that you are going to get the benefit from it.

When you’re fired up about something, take it to the extreme.

There is no need to “find motivation”. The motivation is already there. Your motivation just may be different to someone else’s motivation. I see a lot of people who are motivated to watch television and eat potato chips all day. Fine for them. Is it fine for you?

An honest, true, but somewhat depressing answer. There is nothing in life that really fires me up like this, but  being motivated to watch television all day is not fine for me.

I am generally apathetic individual. I don’t really have passion for life or much of anything in it. I occasionally get a really brief flurry of passion for this or that hobby, computer game, or such, but never one that lasts longer than a couple weeks and never one for anything important.

But, that’s a problem. I shouldn’t be this apathetic; I desire to have a passion for something.

So, that leads to a new question, how does one develop passion?

How does one truly begin to care about and pursue what one knows one should?

How do I find the passion to become the man who has the kind of life I desire?

13 responses to “Acquiring Passion

  • zhai2nan2

    I will write a longer answer to this later.

    The short answer is: Get inside your subconscious mind. Notice the blockages to your creative passion. Work to open up the channels of inspiration.

    It’s a big topic. Must dash now, will write later.

  • Arred Wade

    Above response is absolutely on the right track. All my directed action comes not from rational motivation but from a spontaneous, emotional drive to win something. It certainly helps to lift heavy weights 3 or 4 times a week, take Vitamin D, and keep busy in order to stay “on”. More abstractly, though, I think you need to develop a subconscious attitude of unimpeded motion and for me this has always meant internalizing a sense of unencumbered self-expression. Being able to do and say what you want while socializing always transfers over to other areas of your life. After that it’s just a matter of seeing possibility where none exists. And I actually have a post about that coming up in a few hours.

  • zhai2nan2

    >I occasionally get a really brief flurry of passion for this or that hobby, computer game, or such, but never one that lasts longer than a couple weeks and never one for anything important.

    Thoughts build beliefs. Beliefs build habits. Habits build character.

    If you want a passion that lasts for years and years, start with a HABIT that lasts for months and months.

    Pick a habit that is useful. For example, I have the habit of carrying a notebook and making notes about my tasks and responsibilities. I find that this habit is genuinely useful. Other habits, such as smoking unfiltered Camels, are less useful.

    Read a book like _Getting Things Done_ if you haven’t already experimented with such a system.

    Also, read a more psychologically oriented book, such as one of the classic Positive Thinking books written 100 years ago:

    The linked book has a twelve-week syllabus. If you can manage to stick with it for 12 weeks, you have enough persistence to work on any project you can define.

  • The Observer

    Speaking as a writer and one who works out regularly, since these are on your to-do list:

    I’ll agree with Zhai2nan2 on cultivating a habit out of what you want to do. For example, I work out 5 times a week and force myself to write 600-800 words a night, whether I like it or not, whether I’m inspired or not. Waiting for inspiration to do something is flawed, as not even the most enthusiastic can have inspiration on tap as and when they like it for something that needs to be done regularly over an extended period of time to have any perceptible effect.

    Putting your nose to the grindstone may be difficult at first, but once a habit forms, it’ll be far easier to stick to your schedule – I recently pulled something in my shoulder, and the thought I’m shortchanging myself sticks in my mind every time I forego my lat pull-downs.

    But that’s how a novel is written: a few hundred words at a time. What you’re feeling is common enough amongst writers who’ve termed it the “great draggy middle”. It’s why online fiction sites are full of beginnings, but very few endings.

    Persistence is key here.

  • Manotaur

    I can say this from a writer’s perspective: waiting for a surge of inspiration to hit you is a waste of time, and usually just an excuse not to write something.

    I used to be like that not long ago – I didn’t write anything for days or weeks, waiting for “inspiration”. Sometimes I got a cool idea and penned a story about it, but my writing output was actually really low.

    Recently, I firmly decided to “turn pro”; that is, take things seriously. Some days are better than the others, and sometimes I have to force myself to writer, but usually I write 1000-2000 words per day. Once I made a habit of writing, I realized that it’s not really hard, you just have to decide to do it. I guess the same rules apply to working out and everything else.

    But I also agree that passion for something has to exist in the first place, especially for writing and arts.

  • sunshinemary

    I read Victor Pride’s essay when he first posted it, and I understood what he meant about not having to force yourself to do something you’re passionate about. But at the same time, I do think we have to train ourselves to do that which we ought to do but do not wish to do. In 1 Corinthians 924-27, Paul writes:

    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

  • asdf

    You might be interested in Cal Newport’s stuff at
    He talks about how ‘follow your passion’ can be bad advice.

  • Tim

    When I spent time with car racing video games I discovered that I was much better when I was chasing my opponent rather than leading. When I was leading I got too relaxed and I didn’t try as hard.

    I wonder if the solution isn’t to try every sort of thing that you can until you find whatever it is.

  • zhai2nan2

    >waiting for a surge of inspiration to hit you is a waste of time, and usually just an excuse not to write something.

    One exercise is to choose a product that you know you can write in a short amount of time.

    For example, maybe you know that you can write a limerick in thirty minutes, but you really want to be a great novelist.

    You could try writing one limerick per day for a few months.

    If nothing else, this might make you hate limericks so much that you might renounce writing and turn to other pursuits.

    In the best case scenario, you might break through your subconscious blockages.

    Inspiration is wonderful when it arrives, but don’t wait for it idly. “Pray to God, but row for the shore.”

  • Novaseeker

    I agree with most of the comments. The phrase “just do it” is a somewhat trite marketing expression for footwear, but there is a truth to it as well, and that is that achieving goals requires sweat more than passion. The passion will come and go (as it does in other areas well …), but the requirement is effort and consistency.

    For writing, a key is setting yourself a daily quota, as others have suggested above, and just doing it. Come hell or high water. Just do it. And when you can do it regularly and without too much hassle, increase the amount slightly, but never to an unmanageable level. And keep doing that. You will have then produced something eventually, and even if it isn’t very good, this will still provide inspiration for you to keep doing it.

    It’s the same mindset as with working out. It’s something you just have to do. Treat it like having a shower, washing your clothes, brushing your teeth, paying your bills. It is another “to do” item. That doesn’t sound inspirational, but the inspiration to continue will only come from the results that you see from the effort, and that will then compound and “inspire” you to continue.

    But the main ingredient is effort. The first ingredient is an interest or an inkling, or a desire to achieve something, but without the discipline to grind for a while against that goal, you won’t get any result that will sustain that inspiration or desire.

    Most of what is worthwhile in life is achieved through grinding. Take that for what it is. It isn’t a bad thing — it just is. The feeling of having achieved a difficult goal makes the grind worthwhile and provides the ongoing inspiration, but you won’t get there without the grinding, and plenty of it, beforehand.

  • Gruesome

    Some men are born with motivation. Others have motivation thrust upon them.

  • Free Northerner

    Thanks for the advice y’all.

    Just do it and build habits seems to be the consensus. Looks like I’m going to have to get in that. I’ll pick up my notebook again for organization and just buckle down to do it.

    @3MM: Good video.

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