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Offbeat 10 October 2014

The world could do with a bit more slacking off, maybe transfer some of the motivation to the unemployed, and get them to read the motivational messages on Facebook.

I open up Facebook every morning, to see what’s happening. Inevitably I see a picture of some cute animal with a saying that goes something like, “Make the world a happy place by hugging this little thing. It’s a platypus, but don’t worry. It’s only lethal if you squeeze it too hard or drop it on your foot.”
Maybe I’m stretching it a bit far, but the motivational posts have a sense of surrealism to them at five in the morning before the first cup of coffee hits home.
Fortunately I can go to the pages of people who keep on obsessively trying to motivate me, and ‘unfollow’ them. In extreme cases I can ‘unfriend’ as well.
Thanks for the good vibes, but there are times when a picture of another pretty flower with a well-intentioned aphorism actually makes me feel homicidal.
I’m not particularly keen on the ‘seven days of gratitude’ thing either. I’m glad you are glad for the dew on the flowers in the morning, and your kids, but I can’t face all that goodness right now.
Can’t we have ‘seven days of rank ingratitude’, starting with complaints about the rain-free blue skies, leading up to dishwater coffee. Show me the other side of you, and maybe I can commiserate or sympathise. If your ingratitude is side-splittingly funny, I may even like you quite a lot for being a clever rebel.
I’m not sure where this motivation thing comes from. I suspect it’s a business meme that somehow wormed its way into real life.
If people are motivated to work, they do the work, and your productivity rises, assuming that the motivation is there and you don’t need to waste hours or days on a workshop to get people motivated in the first place. Personally, I’ll just have a coffee and a cigarette to get my motivation moving, and if I can’t have the cigarette to get me going I’ll be somewhat less motivated and my mind will wander to going outside.
Motivation has become so pervasive that it filters into every facet of life. Magazines are full of the word.  You can be motivated to do ‘self-improvement’, maybe take a course in macrame.
Motivation extends into the weekend: find some quality of life gig to make your relaxation more productive. Maybe learn to play a penny whistle on Saturday afternoons. Get motivated to get fit. Motivate yourself to be enthusiastic.
Life is so full of motivation, it seems almost impossible to imagine that our ancestors who lived before ‘motivation’ showed up, were able to feed themselves, let alone find gainful employment. The most basic economic theory tells us that value and scarcity have some kind of direct correlation. Scarcity of commodities such as rice or coffee or chocolate push up prices. Scarcity of investment security pushes up the gold price. Scarcity of skills makes skilled labour more valuable, to the point where a plumber earns about as much as a doctor.Now ask yourself, how scarce is motivation? And while we’re at it, if everyone is at peak motivation, what sets the most motivated apart?
Personally, I think it’s time to press the ‘reset’ button.
There is only so much that can be done with any given amount of energy, and the yields to the investment of energy are diminishing. I see it in people around me, as well.
The world could do with a bit more slacking off, maybe transfer some of the motivation to the unemployed, and get them to read the motivational messages on Facebook.
Slacking off from time to time is important, if only to set the baseline for what motivation really is. Maybe it means getting by with a bit less in terms of earnings, but it also means having the ability to have a life.  The theory is not particularly radical. Carlos Slim is advocating a three-day work week, and Richard Branson has announced unlimited leave. No doubt some of his employees are planning a couple of weekends off.
I need to plan an empty weekend somewhere as well. My motivation has sunk to about nothing. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can get it up and running again, just not for the next few days.

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