Anxiety-Driven Motivation

A person driving really hard to make a car trip go faster would save more time by occasionally forgoing a trip, taking a better route, driving at a better time, or simply living closer to where they're going.  A person who spends a lot of time putting stuff away in their house would probably be better off putting into storage all the things they don't use regularly or at all.  A lot of people keep so much stuff in their rooms that it literally can't be clean and the best they can do is shuffle it around the room occasionally.  The reason people have these behaviors is anxiety-driven efficiency.


The person always has a baseline level of anxiety which they alleviate by doing things.  But by alleviating it in this way they end up becoming addicted to the anxiety.  Ironically, people who are big into anxiety-driven efficiency tend to be very inefficient.  This is because they are always focused on efficiency at the small scale and never feel a need to examine the large scale or long term.  As long as their anxiety is beaten down they feel they've done what they need to.  However, there is typically a problem when a person tries to stop being anxiety-driven.  They realize that without the anxiety in place to motivate them they have no other source of motivation.  Sure they can logically see what they need to do and why to do it but they still aren't motivated.  A person who's spent all their life motivated by anxiety hasn't had the need to develop more mature forms of motivation.  So, if a person breaks the habit of anxiety they'll typically be unmotivated for many years.  This is usually called being "burnt out".


John LeFlohic

February 10, 2003