Motivation 2: "The Dictator"

Date: 10/27/2005

We already discussed the first of the four ineffective ways people try to motivate themselves, "Disaster".  In contrast to "Disaster" which is primarily visual is  "The Dictator" which is auditory.  It is characterized by commanding yourself to do something.

Think of a task that you must do but have no desire to do....Now, hear the following as if an army sergeant, police officer, or other authority figure is commanding you:

          "Stop procrastinating, get up, and go do____(fill in your task)  NOW!"

This way of motivating yourself can be fine once in a while or for short term tasks:

          "Get up and go deposit money in your bank account."

         "Go drive to the airport NOW--you don't want to miss your plane."

The stress you create speaking to yourself this way is much less than the stress you would feel dealing with your creditors if your checks bounce or missing your plane.

The problem is that it is stressful to go through life constantly commanding yourself to do things.  And, it is unnecessary.

An effective alternative is to invite yourself to do the task. There are two aspects to this.  One is to speak in a softer voice tone and the second is to use an invitation-style wording such as

          "Okay, let's get a start on that report."

You might want to add a little humor to the wording:

          "You are cordially invited to begin working on that report."

People who try motivating themselves with "The Dictator" often have a conflict about the task at hand.  As we said earlier, they know that they must do it but they don't want to.  Analyzing and understanding why you don't want to do it can add to your motivation to do it.

Many people who constantly prod themselves with "The Dictator" may find it hard to believe that you can achieve the same--or better-- results using these alternatives.   In many cases, this belief was installed by authority figures in their past who may have frequently commanded them to do things.  These authority figures may have told them that "this is the only language you understand." And sometimes when you hear something often enough, you begin to believe it unequivocally.

Give it a try!  Recall a time that you motivated yourself with "The Dictator."  Repeat (in your mind) the command using the same voice tone and wording.  Notice how you feel.   Now, soften the voice tone and wording as described above and repeat the message to yourself with this new voice tone and wording.  Notice, now, how you feel.   If you would like to learn an interesting method of softening your voice tone, email me.  That is to say, you are cordially invited to email me...

(adapted from "Heart of the Mind" by Steve and Connirae Andreas)

Please email me your personal experiences relating to this article.