Motivation is highest when a problem is considered difficult, but not impossible.
My father told me that when I was young. He was adapting Yerkes-Dodson Law for the simple mind.
I carry a mental model of my motivation curve. The entry and exists are steep. Once I slip toward the bore or burnout slope, the bottom approaches rapidly. If engaged, I drive myself toward optimum by expanding the scope of strategy. Being a Myers Briggs Extravert, I expand my motivation through interactions, goals and deadlines. I like complex problems, but sometimes I find myself slipping over the edges.
In this month's New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell covers a biography of Albert O. Hirschman. Hirscham was an economist specializing in development, but Gladwell starts with an analysis of human endeavor. Quoting Hirschman "Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened." As he further explains,
"The only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be."
Delusion may be a critical tool for motivation. If one properly grasps the difficulty of the situation, one falls into Anxiety; and performance plunges. To improve personal productivity, just lie to yourself: "that's not hard"
Brings a new depth to motivational strategies, heh?