Misdirected Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is a strange thing. I never really paid much attention to it in the past — when it came, when it was gone. I always assumed enthusiasm was attached to specific projects, tasks and goals, and you were either in the mood or you weren’t. I’ve since changed my perspective on that.

Recently I retrospectively noticed some enthusiasm that had been growing over the few days prior. I didn’t notice it at the time too much, was actually too busy working on things. But it was in my awareness to some degree. And then I caught myself doing something that might be a key to some of my productivity issues. I’m guessing I am not alone in this. My enthusiasm was slowly being spread out to multiple outlets — a business idea with my brother, a font idea with a designer friend, a Minecraft idea that’s been bubbling in my head, a design project idea that’s been in my awareness…

Instead of taking this energy, motivation and enthusiasm and focusing it like a laser to one project, I was instead been using it like a lawn sprinkler, giving a bit to a bunch of projects. Most of which are not part of my main goals, and most likely will never see themselves realized anyways (if I am being realistic with myself). There’s some sort of dopamine-fueled variable reward thing going on there, I am sure of it!

The “aha!” moment for me however was that enthusiasm seemed to be this general flow of “energy” that is redirected by the recipient, as opposed to enthusiasm for one specific thing.

The key then is to recognize when enthusiasm is starting to express itself, and then hold your ground and brace yourself so you can focus and direct it towards your intended outcomes instead of having it flop and spray around like a loose firehose. Otherwise you disperse that energy over a wide area, which never really does any one of those things any real good.

Knowing ahead of time that enthusiasm is not for a specific thing, and that it needs to be managed, is a valuable tool. Far too often I let that valuable fuel get used up, and end up with little to show for it.

In addition, this ties into some recent reading about the power and importance of routine and habits for achieving goals. I believe having routines and habits for your goals is probably a great place to funnel this enthusiasm when it appears.

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