Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Motivation and Alternatives

There is a conundrum I have slowly been realizing that I'm facing; I am forever interested in new things, ideas, learning opprtunities, growth opportunities, books, movies, friends, etc. I suppose I am not that different from many people, including those of you that read this blog. We all are interested in a variety of subjects and experiences and make time in our day to seek them out. The challenge is that the days do not expand to meet the time requirements involved in maintaining these interests.

This blog is a good example. I started it with high motivation and excitement (funny how those two often pair up together) and now I'm faced with the reality of actually having to do the work without the expanded hours in a day or week to get it done. A conundrum.

This leads me to realizing (again) an existential truth and having to accept it: alternatives exclude. This is a phrase I first read when reading the work of Psychiatrist Irvin Yalom some years ago. It has stuck with me ever since. This phrase tells me that choices are exclusionary, and in order to make a choice we have to be willing to give up the other possibility (that which we don't choose.) We have to be willing to give up what making a choice automatically excludes.

Sometimes it's not difficult to do, like choosing to go uptown or downtown. Or choosing to have Thai food or Chinese food for lunch. Choosing to go uptown naturally excludes going downtown at this time. Likewise, choosing to have Thai food for lunch naturally excludes having Chinese for lunch. Other times having to make a choice can be paralyzing, like having to choose which pet to give up because the landlord only allows one per apartment or choosing which person to date. Such difficult choices can squash motivation, the very energy that helps us move forward in life.

So it can be important to notice and be aware not just what we are choosing, but also what we are giving up as well. We have to be alright with both; we have to be willing to accept both lest we be stymied into inaction which, in itself, is also a choice.

As always, I appreciate your comments. Please check out my website at

My best,

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