Self-Improvement: How can I motivate myself to work hard? |

Joe Nilsen
5 min readMar 27, 2020

If life hasn’t slapped you in the face during the time that has passed since you asked this question, I assure you it will soon. “I’m requesting as well as daring you — MOTIVATE ME IF YOU CAN.” — are you serious? Let me let you in on a little secret of life that you will soon cling to as a supreme truth — There is not a single person on this planet that is capable of sufficiently motivating you, and more importantly, nobody cares enough to try.

Your question screams the voice of a child who grew up with a little too much money and not enough “no’s”. It sounds as if you’ve observed certain people who have achieved success and you have somehow fallen under the delusion that these tasks are easy to accomplish. You’re soon to find out that they were sure as hell are not. Your question alone — my God, there is so much I want to touch on. Please understand, I am not judging you. View what I am saying as if I am watching a scary movie and we are at that one scene where everybody knows that the bad guy is about to pounce on the blonde-haired girl — that is, everybody except her.

If I seem excited, it’s because I have seen this movie. I know very well that the happy ending I have been waiting for and hoping for is never coming. Even though this is the case, I can not help but still shout “He’s RIGHT there — WATCH OUT “ to the naive female wandering around this movie like a helpless mouse about to cross paths with that California King Snake.

How’s that for “motivation”?

Let me tell you a variation of a well-known story I am sure many have heard before.

There was once a young man who one day decided that he wanted to be successful. He was not aware of how to accomplish this task or what success entailed, however, he was certain that this was the deepest wish. In a desperate attempt to learn the path to success, he seeks out an all-knowing/all-wise old guru. Certainly, this man will have the key to success. I mean, after all, the guy knows everything.

So the question is how to be successful and the answer lies within the old man. Finally, the answer to the young man’s question will be answered and he can promptly shift his attention away from all of this annoying seeking and onto simply being successful. The young man approaches the guru and asks his question of how to be successful. Of course, the old man knew the answer. He tells the young man, “So you say you want to be successful? Okay, meet me at the beach tomorrow morning at 4 a.m.”

The young man is thinking to himself “What the hell are we going to do at the beach and more importantly, why does it have to be at 4 a.m.”? He’s in no position to question anybody though, so he skeptically makes his way to the beach the next morning. The old man is there waiting, and once approached says, “Here lies the answer to your question. Begin heading out into the ocean and you will discover what you seek.”

The young man is thinking to himself he must have gotten to the guru a little too late, past the point of wisdom and into dementia. But where else is he to turn if the guru is unable to give him life’s secrets?

He makes his way into the water and stands there with half of his body submerged. The guru tells him to go further. He goes a little further. The guru says further. He goes slightly more. The guru sees that this young man will never get to the point that he needs to get to without his assistance, so he hastily makes his way out into the water himself and meets the young man where he stands. He asks one more time, “Are you sure you want to be successful?” Quickly after receiving a nodding yes, the guru takes the young man’s head and submerges it underwater, holding it there. 30 seconds pass — and then a minute — and then a minute & thirty seconds — has this old man gone crazy? At last, he releases the young man’s head and he emerges gasping for air.

Confused and shaken he asks the man, “What the hell was that for, you psycho?” The old man replies, “What did you want to do more than anything in the world when your head was underwater?” The old guru was pretty much drowning the kid. He obviously said, “I wanted to breathe more than anything in the world.”

The wise guru replied, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, you will then do so.”

Your feet are capable of screaming much louder than your voice could ever dream of. You say you want one thing but what are your actions saying? You say you have “gone through almost everything that can motivate a guy” and you challenge the people of Quora to “MOTIVATE ME IF YOU CAN”, but please listen very carefully when I tell you that you haven’t gone through shit.

Your dream is to take your parents on a world tour — for a year? Yet, here you are — on Quora, seeking motivation. There are people your age out there right now, January 6th, 2016 whose dream it is to eat a meal and make it into the homeless shelter tonight before the maximum capacity is reached — do you think anybody has read your story and has an aching heart for your dire situation? Hell no. I certainly do not. If it were easy, everybody would do it. It is not anybody’s job to motivate you. Life should serve as a sufficient resource for that. Unfortunately, it sounds like you have been dealt with a watered-down version thus far and have yet to truly understand its true power. When your desire to get motivated extends beyond your hopeful “world tour for a year” and onto “I’m so hungry what am I going to eat?” or “Where am I going to sleep?”, I am willing to bet you will say you haven’t tried everything.

So, here we are, watching the same movie that we have seen far too many times. The creepy music begins to play. The camera angle shifts to that “you better watch this” zoom angle. Blondie is wandering around like she has never even heard of this deranged psychotic villain. The hair on my arms begins to stand up. I know she is never going to hear me, as she has yet to acknowledge the prior 80 times I’ve attempted to warn her. Even so, I cannot help but yell WATCH OUT!

Originally published at on March 27, 2020.



Joe Nilsen

Tried & true chef forged in the fires of the best restaurants in NYC. 🔥 Smartened up. Began writing and selling. 👨‍💻