Want vs Don’t Want

I‘ve never spent the time counting, but I’m confident in saying there are most likely hundreds of thousands of articles about how to be productive kicking around the internet. Many of them are listicles. Some are a bit preachy and most are totally useless because let’s face it, nobody enjoys getting up at 5am and jumping into a freezing lake to get their brain moving.

As someone who has wasted time reading way too many of those articles (because I’m totally helpless to clickbait titles), I’ve found that none of them have ever described what I use to keep motivated. So, going 0against my better judgment and the fear of joining the club of other useless motivational articles, I wanted to share what keeps me going and hopefully it would resonate with you.

What motivates me in life is what I don’t want to happen.

Most people like to think about the things they want to motivate them to work hard.

  • I want a bright red fuck you Ferrari.
  • I want some Yeezys. With those Yeezys I want some more designer clothes.
  • I want a huge house on the beach.
  • I want a model boyfriend / girlfriend.
  • I want to buy a watch collection like Floyd Mayweather. Hell, I want to live like his Instagram feed says he does.
  • I want to show all of my friends and family that I’m successful.
  • I want to prove people wrong.
  • I want to make it.
  • I want to succeed.

You get the point. There are endless “wants” and they’re all different depending on who you are.

While it’s super easy (and admittedly fun) to list out the wants, I’ve never found them to be motivating. I’ve never been able to wake up, look in the mirror and mutter “I want to make it” to myself and then crush 15 hours of work. Most of my wants are totally hollow and I dare say most people’s are too.

I found motivation in the don’t wants.

  • I don’t want to wake up on my 30th birthday and realize I wasted half a decade on an idea that never really got off the ground. I can’t get that time back.
  • I don’t want to have to borrow money to pay rent.
  • I don’t want to have to ask my girlfriend to put off traveling, eating out, starting a family or otherwise living a normal life because my idea isn’t working.
  • I don’t want to have to start all over again.

These are only a few of my don’t wants. Writing them down has me in a cold sweat.

I wake up each morning and run through a few of my don’t wants in my head. It gives me the ability to shed any nerves, insecurities or fears towards what I need to do. I think it’s because the don’t wants make you fight for a higher purpose. The don’t wants usually affect other people — not just yourself.

So if you’re struggling to raise a family, write a book, start a business, graduate school, train for a marathon, find a new job, quit smoking, ask that person out, move to that new country — I would suggest you take just a few minutes and ask yourself what you don’t want in life.

My bet is that working away from what we don’t want will lead us all towards the things we really want.

What are your don’t wants?