For example, the drill sergeants remind the recruits again and again that not everyone is going to make it. Some people won’t be able to stick it out and graduate from basic training. For many of the recruits, this motivates them to try to be one of the strong, capable people who make it and avoid being one of the ones who couldn’t handle it.
Sometimes when one recruit lags behind or doesn’t work hard enough, the rest of his platoon is punished for it. This is another kind of motivation. It is using the recruit’s embarrassment and feeling of ethical obligation, as well as using the peer pressure from the rest of the platoon to motivate him to work harder.
If you don’t keep up during a run, you might get extra guard duty (rather than badly-needed sleep), or you might have to do push-ups until your chest aches. This is a different kind of motivation — pushing yourself through suffering now in order to avoid greater suffering later.
Some motivations work better than others, so basic training uses all of them to make sure everyone is motivated, and as motivated as possible.
The different types of motivations can add together without canceling each other out. For example, you the peer pressure doesn't cancel out the desire to be one of the chosen few. They add together to make an even more intense overall motivation.
You can use the same principle. When you’re thinking up statements to motivate yourself with, try out many different kinds of motivation. Try to think of anything that works on you. Try scaring yourself. Make yourself white-hot with desire. Use embarrassment, peer pressure, lust, curiosity, pride — anything that gets you fired up and working hard.
If it motivates you to be the best, to be better than others, use that. You don’t have to share these statements with anyone else. This is up to you in the privacy of your own mind. It is nobody else’s business. So do not limit yourself to motivations or statements that would be publicly acceptable and politically correct. Appeal to your ego, appeal to your manliness, appeal to your desire to attract a mate — whatever makes you feel motivated.
The bottom line is: Find things to think that make you feel motivated, and practice those thoughts. Get in the habit of thinking those things, and you will be a more motivated person. It’s a matter of habit. The difference between a very successful person and a very unsuccessful person is mostly their mental habits.
Our next article will be on what habits are, and how they work.
Read the next chapter: How Habits Work
This article was excerpted from the book, Slotralogy: How to Change Your Habits of Thought.