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February 5th, 2019

Zig Ziglar originally came up with the concept of linking Motivation with Bathing.  He’s quoted from his numerous programs saying:


“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”


It raises a valid point: motivating emotions that impel us to do productive things ebb.


Note for a moment the etymological similarities between the two words: motivation and emotion.


Both reference motion, or movement.  If we are motivated enough, we actually do something, and e-motions might be described in much the same way.  Often motivation is couched in terms of a particular emotion, as in motivated by anger or motivated by love.


Etymologically, motivated by emotion is somewhat a redundant concept.


Zig Ziglar recognized the feeble longevity of any given instance of an emotion and his somewhat jocular comparison to bathing draws out the realization that emotions that lead to productive ends need to be cultivated.  We might even think  of practicing these emotions or training with them.


While humorous, bathing is a somewhat passive analogy.  We might instead compare it to something more active, like running. 


In the simple way that you are not actually running unless you are running,  we are not actually motivated unless we have started doing the actual activity we are motivated to work on.


And this perhaps hints at the problem.  We imagine some kind of overwhelming positive feeling that is separate from actually doing the thing we wish to do.  We might ask, are we merely looking to feel that emotional high that we associate with the word motivation, or do we genuinely wish to see the object of our imagination come to life?


We should perhaps not separate the emotion from the actual activity.  We might in fact think about detouring around the need for such a motivational high all together and just start doing the tiniest, easiest little aspect of the goal we have in mind. 


The analogy with running becomes even more helpful here.  When we are sprinting we cannot actually stop instantly.  The act of running creates a physical momentum.  Each sprint carries us halfway into the next one and unlike walking or bathing, we actually need a span of time and space in order to slow down our efforts and come to a complete stop.  


We have all experienced this kind of motivation:  when we are deep in the work of a project and suddenly some alternate obligation comes time and we need to stop what we are doing but curse the timing because we are on a roll.  Our actions towards a goal have momentum even if we are standing still.


Like any daily practice, whether it be sleep or meditation or physical exercise, or even breathing, we might benefit from imagining just how far and fast a project will develop if we work on it every single day.  Even if it’s just a little bit.  That next easiest piece of the puzzle.  


What could you do right now, in the next minute to pull that dream a little more into reality?


Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 296: Bathing on a Roll

Tinkered Thinking

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