GTD, consumerism, meaningful pursuits and their effect on motivation

I read a great post not long ago about how we could all slow down and do something meaningful. Then we wouldn’t need GTD tricks to get things done. We would want to get them done. I would like to call that desire to get things done, ‘gumption,’ in the spirit of Robert M. Persig and the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Clay Collins’ post was great in part because it recognized the plain and simple truth that we are often stuck not on some organizational issue, but a motivational issue. The GTD mentality can get you out of the overwhelmed inaction gumption trap, but there are plenty of other gumption traps.

The biggest, I think, is doing something that is not really important. If you find yourself thinking that you don’t care if a thing gets done or not, then no amount of external force, tricks, emotional speeches or anything else will make it seem like it is worth doing for long. Yet, somehow, for some of us, not doing this unimportant thing causes anxiety. That’s an amusing situational irony if I’ve ever found one.

On the other hand, if the project is meaningful, then it will be a lot easier.

Determining what is meaningful may be a pretty hard task in itself. It might take a lot of time and emotional energy. And being stuck in the grind is not the best place to start. But how can you get out of the grind without some greater passion to pull you away? That is the dark underbelly of consumerism. Don’t think. Buy. Unhappy? Buy more. That make you less happy and in debt? More depressed? Too overwhelmed to think of a better way of life? Perfect. Keep buying. It’s the addict cycle. The easiest cure for withdrawal symptoms is to not withdraw.