Want to have more energy to do things? I’ll demonstrate how how much energy you have to do something rarely has to do with how much energy you have.
When I used to go dancing every Friday night I would look forward to the excitement of seeing friends, listening to great music, dressing up, etc. The friends I went out with looked forward to it too.
I was mystified by people who would say they were tired at the end of the week and as a result didn’t want to go dance. The exact reason motivating my friends and me — to release, have fun, meet people — demotivated them.
How much energy you have to do something depends more than anything else on the outcomes you expect. If you expect to have fun, see someone you want to, or anything emotionally rewarding, you will have energy to do it.
What energy means in that context is motivation — it has little to do with the ATP in your muscles — the amount of chemical energy available to your muscles.
Likewise, when you expect to have no fun, to be alone when you don’t want to be, or anything emotionally punishing, you will feel less energy to do it. Again, nothing to do with the chemical energy in your muscles, brain, or anywhere else in your body.
If you want more energy, create more incentives to motivate yourself. Imagine more rewarding outcomes for your activities. Motivation makes you more productive so you’re more likely to succeed. It also makes you feel like you have more energy — in almost all cases it makes you feel better and do more.
A funny thing is that it works even if you know you’re doing it. No matter how emotionally drained, resigned, uninterested, or otherwise demotivated you feel, if you consciously create a set of environments, beliefs, and behaviors where you expect a rewarding outcome, your emotions will follow — you’ll feel motivation to get that reward. This technique works on all scales — on hour long projects as well as lifetime ones.
This little germ is the foundation to a great life. I’ll return to it over and over again in this blog.
EDIT: I added more thoughts to this post two days later in “More thoughts on ‘Where you get energy’“.
EDIT: I simplified the connection between energy, motivation, and the expectation of success in this post.
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