How to Motivate Yourself When You Cannot Go On

It’s Not as Tough as You Think

Vishal Kataria
The Startup
Published in
6 min readJan 20, 2019

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The lady in the above photo is Bonnie St. Johns.

Bonnie was sexually abused between ages two and seven. At age five, doctors amputated her leg. She got an artificial leg and had to learn to walk again. Her mother was a single working woman and the family was stuck in poverty. Bonnie said they always had “month at the end of money.”

But she created miracles. She didn’t just learn to walk again, she became an athlete. She went on to become the first African American to win a medal in skiing at the Winter Paralympics though she lived in San Diego, where there is no snow.

Naturally, the question Bonnie gets asked often is, “How can I be resilient like you?” This question plagues everyone’s mind, including yours. And mine.

You want to improve your work skills. Get fitter. Read more books. Use your time better. But one thing is always missing — motivation.

You give up on something you enjoy when you must carry on. You touch your smartphone during crucial moments of deep work when you must block out distractions. Then you feel like you suck.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Most people on planet Earth feel like that. But it doesn’t mean you must resign yourself to this condition forever.

Imbibing motivation isn’t tough. All it takes to go that last mile is a tiny shift in mindset.

The 2 Forms of Motivation

The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. It comes in two forms: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation depends on your surrounding. A pep talk, a fitness partner, inspiring posts are some examples.

Seeking external motivation is easy. You can read blog posts and watch and inspiring videos. You can make someone hold a gun to your head, to push you closer to your goals.

There’s just one small problem. Extrinsic motivation depends on sources outside your locus of control. Depend on it too much and you lose out.

If your fitness partner calls in sick, you don’t go for a walk. If you don’t…

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Vishal Kataria
The Startup

I write to teach myself and hit “Publish” when I think it might help you.