Procrastination Pandemic: Why You Feel No Sense of Urgency
Sometimes, out of nowhere, we have these motivational spikes. It may be only a tiny spark, but a moment like this is already enough to make us realize our true potential. We get a glimpse of who we could be.
Most of the time, however, we know that this small burst of energy is just a fleeting moment, waiting to pass.
Don’t you wonder why staying motivated is so damn hard? Why do you feel no sense of urgency in your life?
Uncle Siggy’s Advice
According to psychoanalysis, there’s a clear answer for creating human motivation. We are either motivated by avoiding pain or by gaining pleasure. That’s it.
This concept is referred to as the pleasure principle, which was developed by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.
In the context of our analysis, however, we need to consider another important feeling which is related to pain – it’s the feeling of fear. Why that is? Well, pain and fear are deeply interrelated because it has been scientifically proven that fear increases pain. So just keep in mind that, when I talk about pain, I’m also referring to fear.
Fundamentally, the pleasure principle seems to lead to a simple conclusion: if you need motivation, wait until you suffer from severe pain or feel an intense desire:
- If you suffer from dental pain, you will most certainly visit a dentist.
- If you can make a lot of money with a small amount of effort, you will go for it.
I know that’s a sobering statement. Is that really what human beings are meant to be? A strange combination of masochism and opportunism?
Whether you like it or not, that’s what most of us seem to do. We wait until the pain of not doing it exceeds the pain of doing it.
Shackles Of Modern Society
When we’re looking for an efficient solution, however, we need to look beyond an individual explanation for human motivation. On top of the pleasure principle, we also need to acknowledge the fact that our motivation is massively influenced by our surroundings and, thus, we need to analyze the impact of the society and culture we live in.
Therefore, let’s start with society’s smallest building blocks, its citizens. Take, for example, yourself.
Chances are very high that you have enough food in your fridge, a roof over your head, and a decent job, or at least a solid education. Put simply, your life is pretty comfortable.
How come I know that?
If that wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post, but instead, you would be on the battleground of the world, fighting for a better life.
If your life was less comfortable, you would feel enough urgency and pain to change your status quo.
Your life, however, is pretty ok. Sure, it’s not perfect by any means, but it’s alright – just enough to keep going.
So why should you even feel a sense of urgency? The urgency for what? Just for the sake of it?
What you’re actually experiencing is a luxury problem. And that’s exactly where the problem lies with modern society: we don’t feel urgency because our life situation is not urgent – or at least it appears to be that way.
No wonder, because our life is designed for maximizing comfort, security, and complacency, leading to an inability to change the status quo. Especially in the last decades, we have kept destroying our biological systems by hijacking our most important motivational drivers called pleasure, pain, and fear.
Amusing Ourselves To Death
The reason for this state of affairs is apparent: with the help of technology and societal progress, we have designed a system that minimizes pain and maximizes pleasure.
First, we have minimized pain, and its little brother called fear, by creating “solutions” for every bad feeling under the sun:
Physical pain? Painkillers
Fear of being alone? Social media & Netflix
Emotional pain? Anti-depressants & drugs (sugar and alcohol included)
Fear of rejection? Tinder & porn
Fear of conflict? Anonymous internet-trolling & political correctness.
With all of these tools, we are suppressing most of our bad feelings, pretending they don’t exist.
Secondly, we have experienced a constant increase of pleasure, be it entertainment, food, or sexuality. We are amusing ourselves to death, as author Neil Postman perfectly stated.
Sure, human beings always have enjoyed themselves. The Ancient Romans, for example, are famously known for gluttony, orgies, and circus spectacles.
Today, however, it’s a completely different ballgame. Technology and societal progress have perverted our pleasure to a point where natural emotions don’t stimulate us anymore. Bread & circuses have evolved into sugary fats, Netflix & browser-games.
From a neurological perspective, we have damaged our dopamine receptors, which are responsible for managing the pleasure-household in our bodies.
Society Is Robbing Your Motivation
Taking these observations into account, we’re now able to analyze why humanity as a whole is suffering from a massive procrastination pandemic.
To make it clear, let’s break down what is necessary to achieve any goal in life. I’d say you need these three components to make things happen:
In order to thrive, you need a mental image of your potential future. A vision that excites you – a vision you can see, feel, taste, and even smell.
Now, in case you don’t have a clear vision, there’s a simple explanation: instead of creating your own vision, you have been imprisoned by other people’s visions. You have outsourced your dreams and goals to Netflix, Instagram, and Youtube.
You’re not the hero of your own journey anymore but you have become a mere spectator of other people’s adventures – most of them not even real.
From a biological perspective, your worn-out dopamine-receptors are no longer able to create an exciting vision for your life.
2. Facing Fear
Your fears are crucial when you decide to go after your goals. If you aren’t ready to face them, you’ll never be able to put your vision into reality. Your fear of pain, your fear of change, and your fear of the unknown will always be your enemy.
But, as we’ve seen, we’re living in a society where fear is constantly suppressed. In such a world, you’ll be ridiculed once you decide to jump into the unknown and face your own fears. Additionally, it’s hard to find mentors who faced their own demons, succeeded, and are able to pass on their attained knowledge.
3. Massive Action
And then you have a third problem: You need to take action. We all know that.
But why is it so damn hard?
From a realistic perspective, your dreams and goals consist of many tedious tasks like ToDo-lists, countless small decisions, boring conversations, slow progress, and setbacks in general.
In contrast, our damaged dopamine receptors have become used to extreme pleasure. We’re no longer able to derive happiness from these boring tasks. What happens then is the following:
- Instead of filling out important paperwork, we read success stories about Elon Musk.
- Instead of talking to the opposite sex, we use Tinder.
- Instead of having deep meaningful conversations with friends, we chat mindlessly on WhatsApp.
Normal stuff just doesn’t excite us anymore.
But unfortunately, that’s exactly what our dreams are built of – boring, repetitive work, day in and day out.
The Missing Puzzle Piece
Now, let’s come to the solution. It’s far from being complete, rather a simple guiding principle to succeed in a world full of noise:
Rewire your brain and reset your biological machine.
It’s time to re-balance your damaged perception of pain, fear, and pleasure, which society has inflicted on you. This means:
- Slowly reduce pleasure
- Tap into your fears
If you do these two things on a constant basis, you’ll be almost super-human. You’ll be ahead of 99% of mankind – no doubt about that.
But as you’re probably noticing, that’s no easy task. However, it will get much easier over time as fear and pleasure are deeply intertwined and, therefore, once you tackle one of them, you’ll automatically improve the other:
- If you reduce superficial pleasure in life, you’ll suddenly face your fears. They will just pop up out of nowhere, disguised as restlessness, nervousness, or even boredom.
- And, vice versa, once you face your fears, small or big ones, doesn’t matter, you’ll have no interest in the pursuit of superficial pleasures. It will seem as if your body is trying to protect you from the dullness of pleasure-seeking activities.
And eventually, you will evoke a chain reaction of positive change, leading to your very own destiny.
Introspection is part of the journey, for sure – so seek solitude, go for a walk, meditate, or try journaling.
Another key component is good health: avoid too much sugar, cook for yourself, and workout once in a while.
A positive environment doesn’t harm either: hang out with positive people, and avoid information overload.
All of these things will help you to tap into your fears and to avoid too much superficial pleasure.
Start slow, start dirty, but make sure to start somewhere.
Let your dopamine receptors heal. Create a vision for yourself. Regain motivation from within, and feel that deep sense of urgency rushing through your body.