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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in the Man Up private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
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Why Are You Not Motivated?
- David Tian Ph.D. shares his two answers why we lose our motivation.
- David Tian Ph.D. explains the reasons why we lack the drive and why we procrastinate.
- In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. leads us to activities that will increase our motivation, inspiration, discipline.
David Tian: Boom, stop! I’m David Tian, Ph.D., and in this video, I answer the question: Why am I not motivated? Welcome to the Man Up show.
Masculinity for the Intelligent Man. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up!
Hey, welcome to Man Up. I’m David Tian, Ph.D., and for over the past 12 years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness, and fulfillment in life and love, and welcome to the Man Up show. I am in Toronto and this is the distillery district, originally Gooderham and Worts Limited, see the big-ass sign up there. It used to be a distillery, hence we are in the distillery district. Lots of tourists at the moment. Great weather but it seems like there’s a Korean tour group around here.
Okay, so I got a question here from the Man Up Facebook group and this one comes from Kenogi from Singapore. Alright, so the question is… As I read the question, the solution will become self-evident, so I’m just going to read the question, just some analysis along the way. When I’m done reading the initial question, I’ll present the quick answer and then I’ll give a longer answer. So, for those of you who want to have it quick, you’ll get that soon. Okay, Kenogi says:
“I used to know what I wanted since young, which got clearer over the years. But when I finally was done with academic obligations and had the freedom to pursue what I wanted, I realized after quite a bit of trying that I was rather underqualified in terms of character development, skills, or financial capabilities to take on my dream careers of namely entrepreneurship and being an artiste.” Man, artiste is a bizarre term they use in Singapore to denote performers of some kind, singers, dancers, actors, often state-supported by the government of Singapore that props them up and gives them a TV show or something like that, or radio also included in artiste. Alright, so that’s what it’s aiming for: entrepreneurship and basically being trained to be a performer/celebrity type.
“As a result, I decided to take on other career paths for cash flow, for survival, saving up funds, training to better qualify myself for my dream careers. Recently, someone…” Okay, so recently, he got a life coach who told him he was going around in circles and it would be best for him to do something else. And he gave him assignments after assignments to help him get ready for it. And he says, Kenogi says, “I’ve been underperforming, not doing them with heart and taking my time to complete them, even when I’m badly in need of a career right now.” He scolds me for being lazy and undisciplined and that I need to show him a sense of urgency and hunger or else he won’t be able to help me.”
It’s okay, some coach there, right?
“And I can’t figure out why I can’t get my emotions into place. Is it because I actually don’t want to take on the career direction he has pointed me in or is it because I’ve yet to break out of the slack around all day and live without discipline in life that I’ve been living for too long?” Okay, so that’s the general question. I asked some clarifying questions. He initially, in asking this question, posted my post that I did with the cool photo of me in one of those quote cards. I don’t know if you can see it or not.
And the quote says, “Wherever there’s a tendency to avoid something or activity, this tendency exists for good and important reasons. Wisdom and growth come from exploring and becoming fully aware of these grounds for avoidance.” So, that’s the deeper answer. So, there are two answers to this. So, I’ll try to do it quick and then I’ll go deeper. So, there are two answers, the first is you don’t have enough discipline, motivation and drive, and that’s because you haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Notice that when people hit rock bottom, when we hit rock bottom, then we start to look for other avenues, real solutions. We look for real solutions.
And a lot of people, they have to wait until they hit rock bottom before they get their act together. The bad part is, if you have to keep hitting rock bottom to get your act together, you may not actually get through it because you got to hit rock bottom. Also, it just sucks, it’s very painful. So, make it easy on yourself and make that rock bottom, which I call your white belt mentality, your default mentality. That is, you’re always a beginner, you’re always thirsty and hungry for more and growth and progress and all that. Now, if that’s not your mentality yet, instead of waiting to hit rock bottom, and Kenogi right now is way too comfortable.
Most people in Singapore by the way are way too comfortable. So, there’s very little reason for them to step outside their comfort zone besides that they want something more, but the pleasure of their current does not outweigh the pain of their current state so they stay in their current state. So, they can either hit rock bottom or never change. So, if you don’t want to have to actually go through rock bottom and you want a shortcut process to do that, I’ve got a course for you, it’s called Drive. You can find it at my website, it’s DavidTianPHD.com. Go to the top menu navigation, click on Coaching, drop down menu, click on Drive, and boom, you’re there. It’s in entry-level pricing for my courses. I’m trying to make it as accessible as possible. And just enough financial commitment to make sure that you follow through with the course, that you don’t just buy it and forget it, that you buy it and go through it.
It will kick your butt. It will give you that drive. It will give you the motivation, the discipline, the inspiration, and the creative thinking about what you’re going to do to get moving, to get moving forward on crushing your goals, and it’s called Drive. Check that out. So, if that’s your basic problem, it’s a basic problem of a lot of young people in their 20s right now who’ve been fed the lie of, “You can do anything and be anything you want, and you don’t have to work for it.” That’s a total lie. You can do and be anything you want, but you’re going to have to fucking work for it. And if you’re not used to working hard, get Drive. So, that’s what I would recommend to Kenogi first.
The deeper answer is maybe you’re… And that’s the quote I had. That’s the quote that he had put in his question from me, which is getting at the deeper answer of: Maybe the reasons why you’re procrastinating or what you’re procrastinating using are a clue to what you really want to do. And the reason you’re not naturally motivated to do this other thing that you think you ought to do is because you actually really don’t want to do that and it’s actually not good for you. It’s not meeting your needs and this other activity is meeting your needs. And maybe this other activity is meeting your needs at a healthy way. Most of the time, things like internet porn, things like that, those are meeting your needs in an unhealthy way. But sometimes, they meet your needs in a healthy way.
So, let’s take a look at some of the things he’s trying to — what he does when he procrastinates to try to meet those needs. So, that was — This is going to be the deeper level of an answer. Okay, so I’m going… So, then I asked him, “What activities are you doing with your time when you’re slacking around all day?” And he says, “David, I sing. I browse through social media.” So, sing. That’s great. That actually helps you become an artiste. So, that shouldn’t be something that you would think you’re slacking. Like, maybe that’s the one part of that artiste future that will really appeal to you and you should do more of that, you should lean into that. So, anyways, singing.
Browsing through social media. Browsing doesn’t really do much for you. Watching shows and videos on the tube. Maybe this is TV, maybe it’s YouTube. Reading books like Crushing It, Gary V’s awesome book. Previously, mobile games which I’ve since deleted because it was getting too addictive and only brought my energy levels down. A little further back, trying to… Okay, so he says he always feels an emptiness inside his heart, and like I need to get rid of that before I can do work properly.
He tried watching an idol drama, a fantasy romance. So, this is another weird Singaporean term. Idol dramas are such a weird use of the word ‘idol’. It’s basically soap operas, and usually it’s like — in Singapore it usually means Korean soap operas. But it could be like Taiwanese soap operas, Hong Kong soap operas. They’re soap operas. The dude is watching soap operas and they’re set in fantasy land, so some time in the past. And it helped quite a bit in making him feel better. And I asked him, “Tell me more about these idol dramas. In what ways do they make you feel better?” And he says, “By invoking feelings of adventure.”
So, now we have a clue. So, these are the things he’s missing in his life which is why he’s not naturally motivated to do the thing that his life coach wants him to do, that he thinks he ought to be doing, some responsible work, right? The reason is, is because he’s missing this that he’s getting from this idol drama, from the soap opera. And says, “By invoking feelings of adventure, exploration. There’s a time travel element in the story set in both the modern day and 2000 years ago, both sweet and sad love, plus comedic scenes here and there.” I think due to vicarious experiencing, it took away that emptiness in my chest and regulated my emotions. But of course, it wasn’t something that would last for long after completion of the series.
So, binge watched a whole series of these soap operas set in some time travel thing, and that made him feel a lot better. He was very motivated to watch the soap operas. Look at what you’re naturally motivated to do already. Try to follow that, and do more of that, and figure out why you’re motivated to do that. And sometimes, it’s just unhealthy, addictive behavior that doesn’t meet your needs in healthy ways. But sometimes, they meet your needs in actually healthy ways like your needs for significance, your needs for certainty, and uncertainty, and adventure. So, Kenogi here, he’s missing adventure, he’s missing exploration. He’s missing exploration of historical places like this. This is actually an old place. This is a real old place in Toronto.
Toronto doesn’t have that many old places, especially compared to Europe, which has a lot of history still left. But anyway, this is one of those. Alright, travel. You can actually get all of that adventure, exploration, history from travelling. And so, those are the first three things he mentioned. So I asked him, “When was the last time you lived abroad outside Singapore for more than four months?” Because usually, one semester is the required amount of time for you to actually get that feeling for the place. Alright, so I asked him, he says, at 26 years old, Kenogi, he’s never taken the plane, he’s only taken the plane once in his whole life, 26 year old, and that was a two-week trip to Taiwan with his parents.
He’s taken short trips here and there for max two days with friends or family to nearby countries. So, his answer is never for your first two questions. And then my line of questioning just went right by his head. It just went right over him. Totally didn’t pay any attention to it, didn’t get it at all. So, dude, like most people who are — like most young 26-year-old dudes who don’t know what they want to do with their lives and have no motivation and inspiration, you have to get out in the world. You might be like, “Okay, mom and dad says I should go to law school, or med school, or whatever.” That was my generation. I don’t know whatever they’re trying to force you to do now, but you’re not motivated to do it. You don’t know what you’re motivated to do, but you are motivated to do something. In his case, it’s watching soap operas, and some other people, for some other people it might be playing video games. You’re motivated to do something. The problem is that you’re not motivated. The problem is you’re not motivated to do the thing that you think you ought to be motivated for.
Look for the thing that you’re already naturally motivated to do. Try to figure out what needs those things. Even in unhealthy ways. If you’re going to internet porn, you’re probably missing some sexual sensual energy in your life. You’re probably missing some fun and uncertainty, unless you keep watching the same porn over and over, in which case, you’re getting certainty from it. But anyway, look at the needs that it’s meeting. So, he’s not meeting his needs for adventure, exploration, time travel kind of thing, history. Okay, so obviously, 26-year-old has only left Singapore once for two weeks with his family.
Anyway, I asked him also. He enjoyed getting sweet and sad love and comedy. So, I asked him, “When was the last time you had a hearty cry, or a hearty laugh, or cried, and had these intense emotions that are akin to love and connection?” And he says, “Every so often,” but they’re not like… He says, “I experience joy here and there in life, but I’d say that true happiness has always been something too elusive for me throughout my life.” Well, there you go. So, you’re watching these soap operas vicariously, experiencing the thing that you really need. So, very likely, the tasks and assignments that this coach has been assigning you don’t meet those needs of adventure, exploration, uncertainty, unpredictability, time travel, exploring history. They don’t meet your needs for love, and connection, and passion.
So, you’ve got to do something, so you’re naturally motivated to seek those out. Find some activities that will maximize that. And if you’re going to be a performer, there are lots of things that you can do. Singing is already one that you’re naturally motivated to do, so look for things that will naturally meet those needs in healthy ways. So, that’s a deeper level. So, it’s sort of like people who, in my generation, were forcing themselves to go through premed, and they hated it. I’m an example. And instead, I followed… I’ll use myself as an example. I followed the fact that I really enjoyed reading about Chinese history.
I loved it. I grew up on Shaolin Monk movies and stuff like that, so I loved it. And luckily, I was able to follow that through and I loved it so much I kept doing it all the way to the Ph.D. And I did philosophy and psychology along the way, two masters degrees and a Ph.D., as a result of doing stuff that I loved. I was able to get paid quite well for it, considering I was doing stuff I loved. And then I parlayed that into a career doing stuff I love right now. I’m doing that for you right now. So, when I’m not motivated, let’s say, to do accounting, that kind of makes sense. And I don’t beat myself up for not being motivated to do accounting. I find a good accountant to pay that person well and then I stay with the things that I love to do and I double down on that.
So, two answers or two levels of answer to Kenogi’s question. If you need more motivation and discipline, go to Drive. Get your motivation, inspiration, discipline through Drive so you don’t have to hit rock bottom in your life. You can do it through this systematic hour and a half amazingly enjoyable meditative exercise that’s in Drive. The second deeper level is, if you already are an achiever, if you’re already super motivated but you find yourself… Like, you’ve been motivated in the past and you’ve crushed it, but you find your life sort of emptying. You’re just going through the motions and your career isn’t as meaningful to you anymore. Look in to my courses’ heart and purpose, especially purpose, because now you can look at what is it that you really want to do, and that course is perfect for you for discovering that.
There are these guided meditative processes through which you can discover what your truer purposes are in your life, not just how to make money or something like that. Okay, there you go, drive and purpose. I’ll leave you with that. Also, I also cover this in the deeper course Lifestyle Mastery which opens up a few times a year, as well as Freedom U which opens up a couple times a year. So, if you want to go even deeper and have live support along with it, look out for those courses as they come online or they open up again. Alright, so I got to meet some friends. We’re going to get some drinks. Enjoying the wonderful weather in October in Toronto, and just a beautiful… Oh, all the tourists have left. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s so quiet now.
So, there you go. Get a little of that and I will see you in the next episode. Join the private Facebook group. See you inside the private Facebook group. Until then, David Tian, signing out. Man Up!