Very Excellent Habits

Motivation is about Joy Not Discipline


‘Okay so I have a project I need you to research for me but it’s totally hush hush and you can’t tell anyone about it okay?’

‘Okay!’ I replied.

A week later I got an email saying the project had been cancelled and I’d be paid for my research and materials incurred thus far. I always find it very funny when top secret projects evaporate. The Project is so dramatic and important at the beginning and then once the budget is pulled The Project is week old butter chicken in the work fridge that no one wants to touch.

This week’s episode inspiration comes from a book I read for the not-going-to-happen-project. The book is called Drive by Daniel H Pink. The not-going-to-happen-project required a lot of reading of self improvement books which is obviously right up my ally. I decided to be super lazy and outsource my book collecting. I called on my favourite second hand bookstore – it’s Canty’s in Canberra. If you’ve never been there, you absolutely have to go. The owner Luke is heaven and he will help you with anything. Seriously, I save all my second hand book shopping for when I’m there. Anyway, I messaged Luke with this ridiculous list of books that he pulled from the shelves for me and he also asked a customer of his that’s always reading self improvement books to add to the pile and I’m not even kidding this guy spent ages going over the self improvement section and added a whole bunch of titles he thought I’d find useful. I have no idea who this guy is, he has no idea who I am but I really appreciate it Self Improvement Guy. Thanks.

So anyway, one of the books in this guy added to the pile was Drive. Honestly, I don’t love super dry self improvement books. My mind tends to wander. This one isn’t particularly entertaining but the main concept behind it really stuck with me.

Motivation isn’t about rewards or punishments. It’s about joy. Well, Pink says it’s about satisfaction but joy is a nicer and more visceral word. In Drive, pink points out a really famous example of joy over riding traditional motivators like money or accolades. Microsoft Encarta (remember those really expensive CDs that were an encyclopaedia on your desk top?) and Wikipedia kicked off at the same time. Wikipedia was user generated – as in people contributed for free and it was free to use. Microsoft Encarta was both paid for by the users and the creators were paid. Encarta went broke and Wikipedia is still going strong today. It’s a simplistic over view but the author muses that the people who contribute to Wikipedia are the reason for its success. They really care about accurate information being available and that’s what drives them to continue. Not money, not fame, not any other kind of reward. Just satisfaction or joy if you want to look at it that way.

This got me thinking about joy and happiness in general and how it contributes to our overall productivity.

In this episode I chat about…

If you’re struggling with motivation, you might need more joy rather than discipline.

Links mentioned in this episode 


Canty’s Bookshop

Do Happier People Work Harder?

Happiness and Productivity 

How To Deal With Grief When You Still Have to Work 

The Happiness Advantage 

Sad as a Matter of Choice?

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