Derek Sivers

Tilting my mirror (motivation is delicate)

Motivation is delicate.

When you notice your motivation dying, you have to seek out the subtle cause.

Then a simple tweak can make all the difference between achieving something or not.

An hour outside my city, there’s a little mountain range. It’s gorgeous on the other side.

But the road that crosses the mountains is very twisted, with sharp turns every few seconds. The first two times I drove across it, my kid threw up in the back seat.

It’s also stressful. I’m surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery, but I can’t take my eyes off the winding road.

Though I drive at a normal speed, the other cars follow impatiently on my tail, because many of them drive this road every day.

It’s only a half hour to cross, but I always arrive pretty drained. The stress was affecting my motivation enough that I wanted to stop visiting.

So one day I tried a new approach. I drove really slowly.

Now the turns didn’t make my kid sick. Now I could afford to take a few seconds to glance sideways and appreciate the scenery.

Now it wasn’t stressful, except for one thing: the impatient queue of cars behind me. I care (perhaps too much) about other people, so just seeing them in my mirror made me go back to driving faster than I wanted, which brought back all the original problems.

So I made one simple tweak:

I tilted my rear view mirror up towards the ceiling, so I couldn’t see anything behind me.

Ahhh... Instantly relaxed.

Now it feels like I’m almost alone on this gorgeous mountain drive. Going at my own pace, not influenced or stressed by anyone else.

There’s a passing lane every few minutes, so when it comes, the other cars whiz by me. For 30 minutes, they’re not my problem. When I get to the other side, I put my mirror back.

Now I go visit all the time, no stress at all.


You know I’m going for the metaphor here.

Even the toughest of us have delicate motivations.

When you notice something is affecting your drive, find a way to adjust your environment. Even if it’s a little inconvenient to others.

Photo by efilpera.