According to Dr. K, we often make the mistake of conceptualizing motivation through the lens of outward behavior to the point that it is common in our society to mimic the behavior of people we view as “motivated” without understanding the internal drivers of that behavior. In actuality, those internal drivers of behavior are what motivation truly is, and he says that this is why most people fail in their goals.

People have a thought (e.g., “I want to be thin”) and select a set of behaviors that they believe embody that thought and force themselves to engage in those behaviors. Inevitably this person loses steam and finds they can’t maintain the behavior because they lack the internal drivers that fuel it. 

People get caught up in chasing the effect of motivation but generally don’t understand what motivation is in the first place. Dr. K says that motivation can be boiled down to the idea that motivation is the ability to hold a thought in your head over time.

He describes the process of “thought-bumping” that destroys our ability to focus on one thought. Returning to our example of the fitness-minded person, this person is thinking, “I want to go to the gym.” And they can hold that thought and go to the gym for a while. Still, eventually, another thought like “I’m too tired today” bumps the original thought out of their primary focus, and the person loses the "motivation" to continue to go to the gym.

So why am I spending time working on this blog? Because it helps me hold my thoughts for a more extended time. Paying off debt is slow; I won't pay off my open credit cards until Oct 2024 and won't clear my personal loans until July 2025. That's a long time for other thoughts to tempt me and side-track me from progress. Carving out some time daily to write something, even a quick "Ways I did not go into debt today" post, helps keep me focused.