On Coding Motivation

I’ll begin this post with an excerpt from Dr. David Burns‘ psychology classic Feeling Good:

I’ll bet you still may not know for sure where motivation comes from. What, in your opinion, comes first–motivation or action?

If you said motivation, you made an excellent, logical choice. Unfortunately, you’re wrong. Motivation does not come first, action does! You have to prime the pump. Then you will begin to get motivated, and the fluids will flow spontaneously….

When someone suggests you do something, you whine, “I don’t feel like it.” Well, who said you were supposed to feel like it? If you wait until you’re “in the mood,” you may wait forever!


The Secret About Motivation You Need to Know

Reading this years ago was a huge revelation to me. It made me realize that my biggest hurdle every day would be just getting started. Every day starts at zero, and just taking the first step every day will always be the hardest step.

Below are descriptions and links of some of the tools that have helped me increase my action and motivation…

To stay focused on my goals I have used Super Sticky Post-It Notes. I put these on my dresser so that I have to see them every day.
Post-It Note Your Way to Real Achievement

To increase my concentration I have used The Pomodoro Technique. This is picking a single task and then focusing on it exclusively for a timed 25 minute burst.
The Pomodoro Technique

To reduce worry, I have tried to focus on the right actions (that lead me towards my goals) and enjoying the journey as best I can.
Trust the Process
Dealing with Coding Insecurities

To make habits stick better I make one change at a time.
On practicing one strategic habit at a time
How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide
The Power of Less: Changing Behavior with Leo Babauta

To further my progress, I make my actions small, consistent, and daily.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret
How to Get Inspired about Web Development

In summary my motivation, enthusiasm, and optimism rise and fall regularly. I have realized that I cannot control how I feel, but I can show up every day possible and trust that my actions will lead to increased motivation, skills, and enjoyment.


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