Curiosity Is Superior to Motivation

Tim Horan in the Australian bush

Motivation is a sugar rush for me. After I read about someone’s impressive achievement, I am suddenly abuzz with the idea I could be impressive too.

This lasts about an hour and then the inevitable low arrives after the candy bar high. The once powerful flood of motivation is now less than a trickle.

Why is this? I think it is because motivation delivers a positive emotional charge which convinces me I can achieve anything. Unfortunately, it is short lived because I fall in love with the warm feeling attached to motivation and not the reality. Any worthwhile accomplishment is hard work, which is hard to remain excited about.

The ephemeral nature of motivation makes it unreliable. No matter how upbeat I feel about a new goal, entropy soon kicks in, and motivation quietly abandons me.

Curiosity vs. Motivation

I am convinced curiosity is superior to motivation. It is underpinned by a sense of discovery rather than a temporary emotional high.

Consider the below approaches to a challenging goal of mine – write and publish one blog article a week.

  • Motivation states: “I will write and publish one blog article a week.”
  • Curiosity asks: “Can I write and publish one blog article a week?”

Unless I possess a super heroic will (I do not), the motivational statement is about as effective as a new year’s resolution (not very). Easily spoken, especially with a glass of champagne in my hand, but brittle in the face of life’s competing priorities.

The curious question, once answered, reveals new questions which invite exploration. Well, I managed to publish one new blog a week for five weeks. Can I keep it up for five months? I might also ask: What additional subjects can I write about but are afraid to do so?

Turn on The Curiosity Tap

If you feel frustrated with a lack of progress in any of your pursuits, turn on the curiosity tap. A question invigorates and restores like fresh water. Curiosity is much better than the sugary and impermanent rush of the motivational energy drink.

Tiger photographed by Tim Horan
Curiosity did not kill the cat, curiosity turned the cat into a bad ass Tiger. Photo by the author.

When faced with a challenge, ask yourself: Can I do this? And if I do this, what more can I do? Curiosity did not kill the cat, curiosity turned the cat into a bad ass Tiger.

What are you capable of?

This blog post was inspired by my podcast episode: Timbo Talks About Why Motivation Only Takes You So Far

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