London selfie, 2018

How to Motivate Yourself in Life

What is the first driver– what is the initial spark which causes us to move, or do stuff in life?


PDF: How to motivate yourself

What is motivation?

London selfie, 2018
London selfie, 2018

To start, let us define ‘motivation.’

To me, motivation is having an inner-drive to act or do something.

Where does motivation come from?

Waitress walking down stairs, blurred. London, 2018
Waitress walking down stairs, blurred. London, 2018

Second question: Where does motivation come from?

Obviously, motivation must come from inside yourself. I think motivation is a combination of the electrical signals in our brain and muscles, that cause us, or impulse us to move, create, or make things.

Blue flash abstract London

I think that motivation comes from a culmination of ideas, thoughts, and concepts that we let brew in our minds over periods of time. This is why memory is so important– if we could not remember or process past memories, we could not have a storage-house of concepts and ideas to draw upon.

Texture London abstract

Practical lesson: To come up with more ideas that will ultimately motivate us to do more stuff, have more experiences, and spend more time to reflect on these experiences, in order for us to internalize these memories.

Why have motivation?

Cindy on laptop in London Airbnb living room, 2018
Cindy on laptop in London Airbnb living room, 2018

Next question: Why is motivation important? Is motivation important?

To me, obviously motivation is important. Without motivation, we would not move, act, or do anything.

Blurred London skyline, 2018
Blurred London skyline, 2018

To me, life is about action — ACTING, doing stuff — doing something ‘positive’.

The more we act, the more we do, and the more ‘active’ we are– we create more, and feel more in control of our lives. Reality becomes much more fun and interesting, because we can imbue our will into things.

Fluorescent Lights in Tate Modern, 2018
Fluorescent Lights in Tate Modern, 2018

I do believe that as humans we are happiest when we are in the flow of creation. Whether that be creating ideas, creating words, creating concepts, creating music, creating pictures, creating photos, creating words, etc.

Cindy with blurred hands on face. London, 2018
Cindy with blurred hands on face. London, 2018

Thus, motivation is important because motivation is the driving force behind creation and making things. And we are happiest when we are creating and making things.

How I motivate myself

Eric Kim selfie Ricoh GR II x ERIC KIM NECK STRAP
Eric Kim selfie Ricoh GR II x ERIC KIM NECK STRAP

The meat: How do we motivate ourselves, and should we motivate ourselves?

I cannot speak for you, but I can speak for myself. This is how I motivate myself:

  1. Wake up in the morning, and take an icy cold shower. This instantly gets my blood flowing, and wakes me up. I feel more active, sharp, and the increased blood flow to my head (as a result of the icy cold shower water hitting my head) helps my ideas to start moving.
  2. Secondly, having a strong black coffee. I first of all like the ritual of my morning coffee– the smell, the taste, and of course, the adrenaline response I get from the caffeine in coffee. This helps my mind focus, and start moving.
  3. Usually after my icy cold shower in the morning and morning coffee (I don’t eat breakfast, which usually gives me food coma, and makes me feel lazier and more lethargic) my ideas start to flow. Now all the ideas I’ve been brewing in my head over the last few days start to percolate and bubble up. I then usually start to have some ideas that motivate me to act– whether to write, whether to publish photos, or whether to make stuff.
  4. If I don’t have any motivation after my icy cold shower or coffee, I will do some physical exercises — usually in the form of ‘dive bomber’ pushups to increase blood flow to my muscles. Theory: I think that a lot of creative motivation and will comes from increased blood flow in our bodies and muscles.

This is a basic overview of my morning routine, how I am able to get motivated to start writing in the morning.

The motivation to make photos

Space takeoff rocket London screen

Of course this is a photography blog, so I will touch upon the photography and artistic side of things.

Where do we get the motivation or the will to make photographs?

My theory: we get the motivation to make a photo if we see something that interests us, and we have a deep desire or will to capture that thing, and preserve it for ourselves.

Advertisement eye London flash

This is important: I think initially the impulse or motivation to make photos is for ourselves. To share and publish it is a secondary concern– that happens far afterwards. Thus, in your photography, first let your motivation of making photos for yourself take precedent. Meaning, only make photos that excite or interest you. Figure out the sharing/publishing stuff to other people later.

Why do we lack motivation to act, move, or create stuff?

Mannequin suit in London storefront, 2018
Mannequin suit in London storefront, 2018

This is an interesting question– why do we lack creative will or motivation at times?

This might seem like a simple answer– but I honestly think that we often lack motivation to make art because of physical or mental exhaustion.

Up arrow. London, 2018
Up arrow. London, 2018

For example, when I am sleep deprived, exhausted, or didn’t get a good night of sleep — I don’t have a motivation to make art. Therefore if you want to find more motivation to make art, photos, or anything in life — sleep is essential. We must be well-rested and have energy to make, and act!

Selfie flash mirror London

As a practical tip: to get better sleep, just abstain from stimulants, chemicals, depressants, alcohol or drugs in the evenings. Also abstain from screens, social media, email, and work in the evenings to get better sleep.

Cindy obscured face in shadows. London, 2018
Cindy obscured face in shadows. London, 2018

Also, I think that a lot of people are afraid to act, or make stuff because of fear. Fear holds them back. For myself, I don’t really care so much what others think of my ideas or thoughts. Thus, I don’t let this impede me from creating.

London architecture, 2018
London architecture, 2018

Also I suppose that I am vain enough to think that what I do, make, or create is important and meaningful. Thus, before I act or do something, I don’t need external motivation. I think anyone who requires too much external motivation will always have difficulty motivating themselves. The best motivation is inner-motivation — to listen to your own gut and to have faith that what you are doing is meaningful. As long as you can do creative work that empowers yourself and 1 other human being on planet earth, I think that is enough.

Pursuing what you are interested in

Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018
Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018

Also, I believe it is essential that we must avoid boredom. We are most motivated when we are excited, and fulfill our curiosities like children.

Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018
Laughing couple. Brick Lane, London 2018

You cannot fake enthusiasm or motivation. You must work on what interests you– what is an interesting challenge, that has some sort of level of difficulty.

  • In photography, that means only photograph what interests you.
  • In writing, only write about things which are interesting to you.
  • In art in general, make art which brings a smile to your face.

The motivation to keep going

Red, blue, woman walking. London, 2018
Red, blue, woman walking. London, 2018

We have a long life ahead of us — how do we stay motivated to keep going?

My idea: after we do something, make something, or act — we must cherish our “small win”, be grateful for what we did, and not be satisfied —and keep moving forward.

In other words,
1. Do something personally meaningful in your life, or make/create something
2. Appreciate what you did or made
3. Don’t rest satisfied: KEEP GOING!

This means to spend the rest of your life being BOTH grateful for the work you’ve done, but also NOT being satisfied, so you stay hungry, and you keep going forward in life.

Cindy diagonal arms
Cindy walking, Kyoto 2017

I think life is about constantly creating new things, constantly innovating, and constantly driving yourself forward. Life is growth, evolution, and forward progress.

Cindy hands face

This means, don’t restrain yourself as an artist. Seek to master many domains — master photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, music, dance, theater, whatever. Seek to write poetry, blog posts, literature, or anything that interests you.

Stay productive and prolific as an artist-philosopher for your entire life: the true secret of creative and human flourishing!



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