How to Get Motivated

See acknowledgment of creator Alex Vermeer.

Why a post on Motivation in a blog about the Argentine tango?

  • I liked the information in the original poster, and I wanted it in a form (that I find) easier to use.
  • The Argentine tango is a dance of special challenges. Many are drawn to it for the many-layered music, the fancy footwork, and the intimate embrace. Many drop out when they discover the physical and emotional challenges of the dance. It takes motivation to pursue progress in the dance in a mindful way.

How to Get Motivated

A Guide to Defeating Procrastination

How to Get Motivated

The solution is simple. To increase motivation and decrease procrastination you must:
+Increase our Expectancy of success and the certainty of being rewarded.
+Increase the Value and pleasantness of doing a task.
-Decrease our Impulsiveness by removing distractions and maintaining focus.
-Decrease the Delay of the reward by having more immediate, salient deadlines.

Get Motivated

Start

  • What are you avoiding?
  • What are you not motivated to do?
  • Be Specific!

Decrease Impulsiveness

Set a Goal

  • Make them: Specific, Realistic, Meaningful
  • Break it down!
  • Input–“For x minutes.”–is often better than output–“Finish this.”
  • “Achieve this” is better than “Avoid that.”

Run a “Dash”

  • Commit to doing it for only 5 minutes. Set a timer.

Eliminate Temptations

  • Recognize what is tempting you.
  • Eliminate it! (Or hide it.)
  • Focus on the abstract aspects of your temptation (not the fun parts).

Make Failure Painful

  • How will failure be painful?
  • Make it more painful.
  • Make a costly bet with someone.

Eliminate Distractions

  • Recognize what is distracting you.
  • Eliminate it! (Or hide it.)

Create Routines & Habits

  • Can part of this be turned into a habit?
  • Can part of this be added to an existing routine?
  • Separate work and play.
  • Schedule leisure before work.

Use Goal Reminders

  • Read an inspiring quote.
  • Look at your goals.
  • Make your goals visible.

Stop Suppressing Thoughts

  • Do not ‘force’ distractions out of your head.

Make Progress Visual

  • Track your progress.

Use Negative Pairing

  • Pair temptations with undesirable images.
  • Imagine a disastrous outcome.

Increase Value

Find Meaning

  • Set and review your major life goals.
  • How does this connect?

Find Flow

  • Match difficulty with skill.
  • Too easy? Make it harder. Too hard? Make it easier.

Create Competition

  • Compete against yourself.
  • Compete against others.
  • Turn it into a game, make it fun!

Get Some Energy

  • Get your blood moving.
  • Splash cold water on your face.
  • Eat well.
  • Energize your environment. (e.g. music)
  • Plan around your energy, not time.

Create a Reward

  • Reward your success.
  • Make the situation more rewarding.

Keep Your Brain Healthy

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take genuine breaks.
  • Reduce your commitments.

Use Productive Procrastination

  • What can you avoid doing by doing this?

Add Accountability

  • Who knows about this?
  • Can you make it public?

Mix Bitter & Sweet

  • Combine long-term interests with short-term gains.

Find Passion

  • Know what you are passionate about.
  • Is this connected?
  • Is this intrinsically motivating?

Increase Expectancy

Action is Required

  • Remember, lack of effort guarantees failure!

Recognize Success

  • Achieve one goal after another.
  • Recognize small improvements as victories.
  • Keep a daily log.

Get Inspired

  • Review your inspirations.
  • Know what inspires you and why.
  • Make your inspirations visible.

Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best

  • What could go wrong?
  • Draw on past experiences.
  • Make a backup plan.

Accept Your Procrastination

  • Don’t trivialize “I’ll only give in once.”
  • Log your procrastination habits.
  • Remember that you are human.

Contrast

  • Compare ideal state with current state.
  • Visualize and contrast the present and future.

Check Your Mindset

  • Qualities and skills are cultivated through effort.
  • Nothing is carved in stone.

The Procrastination Equation

The Procrastination Equation–discussed in detail by Piers Steel in his book by the same name–accounts for every major scientific finding on procrastination and draws upon the best current theories of motivation. It looks like this:

Motivation = (Expectancy x Value) / (Impulsiveness x Delay)

Expectancy refers to the perceived odds of getting a reward and whether we expect success or failure.
Value refers to the pleasantness of doing a task and the size of its reward.
Impulsiveness refers to the tendency to get distracted or lose focus on a task.
Delay refers to the time between the present and a task’s reward or completion.

How to Use This Poster

  1. Notice when you are procrastinating. Be specific about what you are avoiding.
  2. Pick an action from one of the three branches to either increase value, increase expectancy, or decrease impulsiveness.
  3. Use the tips to help you implement the action.
  4. Repeat Steps 1-3 until you are motivated.

Tips

Tip! If you feel overwhelmed by how many possible actions there are, focus on implementing just one.

Tip! Keep track of what works best for you.

Tip! Delay is hard to address directly. It is covered in other actions especially Set a Goal under Decrease Impulsiveness.

Tips! If you run into problems, always remember the main reason for the action: to either increase value, increase expectancy, decrease impulsiveness, or decrease delay.

Acknowledgments

Alex Vermeer has created a beautiful color flowchart of this material at alexvermeer.com/getmotivated. Scroll down to the DOWNLOAD IT HERE! section where you can have a free download of the poster in a variety of resolutions.

The text here and its organization is copied nearly verbatim from the poster by Mr. Vermeer. The poster includes so many blocks of information that I found it difficult to use online or print in a form I could use without a magnifying glass. So I created this for my reference.

This poster was inspired by The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel. See this book for extensive detail on the causes of procrastination and the many methods for defeating it. Buy his book and support the scientific investigation of procrastination and motivation!

How to Get Motivated v2.0 by Alex Vermeer Also check out alexvermeer.com/getmotivated

Licensing

Mr. Vermeer generously licenses his poster under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA), which permits sharing and adapting the material, provided source attribution is given, it is used for non-commercial purposes, and it is shared under the same license.

This adaptation of Mr. Vermeer’s How to Get Motivated poster is licensed under the same terms as his poster.

The Tango Keypad

door keypadThis is a derivation of the Tango Lexicon developed by David Lampson and Mitra Martin of Oxygen Tango in Los Angeles. I feel grateful for their inspirations: in the method itself, in their teaching style, and in their generous sharing.

What is this good for?

This deals with a single aspect of all that is Argentine tango: the fundamental steps, Open, Front-cross, and Back-cross. By looking at all the possible combinations for two partners, two feet, Parallel and Cross Systems (defined later), and just these three three unique steps, we get 24 combinations that can be strung together in an infinite variety.

These simple, fundamental movements that don’t require memorizing have helpful uses as:

  1. Glue to connect our memorized big figures.
  2. A lens to help us see new possibilities in the movements that make up big figures.
  3. Navigational elements to help us out of a jam.

  4. The fundamental steps

    David Lampson describes these this way. My partner is stationary in front of me. Standing with my weight over one leg, I can make a move to step around my partner by opening my legs apart; we call this an Open step. But if I try going around my partner with that same leg in the other direction, I have two choices. I can pivot and move my free leg across in front of me; we call this a Front cross. I can also pivot and move my free leg around behind me; we call this a Back cross.

    Open step — a step anywhere in an arc of 180-degrees, ranging through straight forward, forward and slightly side, sideways, back and slightly side, straight back, and anywhere between those.

    Front cross — my moving leg crosses the imaginary line from my middle to my partner’s middle. (Try turning your torso toward your partner. If your legs twist against each other, you are crossed.)

    Back cross — my moving leg crosses the imaginary line behind me that came from my partner’s middle, through my middle and out the back. (Try turning your torso toward your partner. If your legs twist against each other, you are crossed.)

    The Systems

    Parallel System (PS) — refers to the situation where both partners move their leg on the same side of the embrace. Both partners together move their legs on the hand-side of the embrace, or both move their legs on the arm-side of the embrace.

    Cross System (CS) — refers to the situation where both partners move their leg on opposite sides of the embrace. Hand-side to arm-side, and vice-versa. So the leg movement happens diagonally across the embrace.

    Now consider that at any time both partners have a choice of making an Open step, Front cross, or Back Cross. Let’s abbreviate those ‘O’, ‘F’, and ‘B’ and put them in a matrix to show all nine possibilities.

              FOLLOWER
       
            | O    | F    | B    |
          --+------+------+------+
       l  o | 1 Oo | 2 Fo | 3 Bo |
       e  --+------+------+------+
       a  f | 4 Of | 5 Ff | 6 Bf |
       d  --+------+------+------+
       e  b | 7 Ob | 8 Fb | 9 Bb |
       r  --+------+------+------+
                   | 0 p/c|
                   +------+
    

    (Later, we introduce the ‘0 p/c’ as a parallel/cross system changer.)

    We put the Follower at top, in capitals, and list that movement first, because typically my intention asks my partner to step before me. (But you are free to reference the matrix by row before column.)

    As a shorthand for identifying the matrix combinations we can number the boxes like a telephone keypad.

       123
       456
       789
        0
    

    We assume that any sequence of movements stay in whatever system that we started in, PS or CS, until we change system.

    To change from one System to the other it requires that one, and only one partner takes an extra step. They can take that step as an O, F, or B. (Keep in mind that a simple weight change is merely an O step in place!)

    The 8-Count Basic figure in PS would be: 11612111.

    Forward ochos would be a switch into CS, then 222…
    Back ochos would be a switch into CS, then 333…

    A choreographed figure could be represented by a specific sequence of numbers 1..9, while a challenge sequence could be some random sequence.

    How to denote a System change

    In order to allow every step to be represented by single digit numbers we will add ‘0’ to indicate a system change. Then take the digit after the ‘0’ to indicate who does what kind of extra step. 1, 2, 3 for Follower’s O, F, B; and 4, 5, 6 for Leader’s O, F, B. Ignore anything else.

       Follower system changer
    0  1  2  3
       O  F  B
    
       Leader system changer
    0  4  5  6
       O  F  B
    

    So a CS 8-Count Basic would be: 1 1(04) 34(02) 1 1 1.
    (The parentheses just make it easier to read.)

    From the Leader’s perspective:
    1, 1 = Back, Left
    04 = Leader’s weight change in place, Follower holds position
    3 = Bo
    4 = Of
    02 = Forward intention invites Follower’s extra, (mini-front) cross step, leader holds position
    1, 1, 1 = Forward, Right, Close

    Tango practice challenges

    10-Sided Dice
    10-Sided Dice
    For random challenge sequences you could go to a teacher supply store and get a handful of ten-sided dice. Throw them, gather them in a row, then do the indicated moves in order. That way makes for a nice tactile, visual, auditory sensory experience.

    Even more simply, there are LOTS of random number generators available for smartphones. Pick a simple one that lets you specify the range of numbers, 0..9, and how many random numbers you want to generate.

    For exploring new possibilities in existing figures you know, walk through the figure with your partner and encode each movement. Now dance that code sequence using any of the many possible choices for direction, size, and dynamics of the movement.

    Where a figure doesn’t flow as nicely as you’d like, encode the three: Before, trouble movement, and After steps. Try varying foot pivots and geometry of foot placements to discover the nicest flow.

    Design notes

    I sought to make useful simplifications in nomenclature. Where Lexicon defines 24 terms with special characteristics to denote 9 possible movements in Parallel System, 9 in Cross System, and 3 possible movements for each partner to switch between systems, I have chosen to merely number the movement matrix with 1..9, then use ‘0’ in a simple convention with the numbers to indicate a system change, who does it, and how.

    Additionally, I took the liberty of rearranging the FOB movement order to OFB, with the thought that this goes in order from most simple to least simple movement. Note, this does break the pretty symmetry of sacada opportunities in the original, where the “chasing” steps for PS are the even numbered cells, while for CS they are the odd numbered cells. But I did away with any special consideration for sacadas, as they can be either Leader or Follower sacadas (a distinction the Lexicon doesn’t make either), or no sacada at all (since it is possible, though maybe not as elegant or interesting, or maybe more interesting, to simply step around your partner’s supporting leg). The dancers decide how to make their chasing step; the choice isn’t dictated.

    When I am decoding a number I find it easier to place the number on the keypad in my mind’s eye, then look up for partner’s move, then left for my move. When I am encoding a movement I find it easier to get my movement from the row on the left, then look right for the column corresponding to my partner’s movement, to get the number at the intersection of that row and column. With extensive practice I expect for the number-movement association to become automatic.