Two thoughts to follow up my post from two days ago: Where you get energy.
First, after mentioning I was mystified by people who used the same excuses not to dance that I used to dance, I should mention that before my dancing friends got me to go dancing the first time, I would have used any excuse to avoid dancing too. I didn’t know how to dance and was afraid of being judged.
I’m like everybody else, of course. I had to get over those fears too. Overcoming them once improved my life in one area. Generalizing that result to realize overcoming fears around things I loved brought me my greatest joys improved my life everywhere.
Second, after mentioning the energy you feel has little to do with the amount of chemical energy available to your muscles, I was going to qualify “unless you are at physical exhaustion.” Then I realized that the opposite to that qualification is often more accurate and helpful.
That is, even if you’re physically exhausted, your mental expectations often override your physical state.
Consider a first-time marathon runner at 25 miles. He or she will be physically exhausted but will likely have more motivation — that is, feel more energy — to run that last 1.2 miles than any other time. He or she is close to achieving a goal he or she worked on for months and knows the only other way to finish a marathon would be to run another 25 miles another day — that is, to bring them back to this state of exhaustion. He or she doesn’t have to think this consciously and probably doesn’t, but he or she know it.
When exhausted athletes dig deep, they aren’t digging for more chemical energy. They’re digging for mental energy — aka motivation — knowing it can override what feels like physical limits, but is actually demotivating emotions based on a lack of expectation of success.
Don’t get hung up on the athletic part of this example. There’s nothing special about athleticism that enables someone to dig deep. Any human can and often does. They’re just accessing that part through sport. We do it at work, in relationships, … achieving anything. You dig, sometimes deep, to achieve any non-trivial goal — in business, social life, … just getting out of bed in the morning sometimes.
We’re all like exhausted runners when we try to achieve non-trivial goals. If you’re less physically exhausted than having run twenty five miles, you probably have the physical energy to achieve your goal.
Whether you can achieve your goal or not probably depends more on your ability to create emotional motivation, likely through envisioning achieving a hoped-for outcome.
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