Being sometimes a little over-analytical I’ve noticed how many things in life can be broken down into math equations. This came to me as I was sipping my coffee on a beautiful summer morning last Saturday, trying to decide what really needed to get done that day. I didn’t feel like doing much. Actually I had absolutely no desire to do anything. I knew Snowball would ask later for a reason why nothing was getting done, so I came up with a simple equation for motivation. Too bad she wouldn’t care about the equation and just tell me to get off my butt.
I’m not that much of math nerd. I kept the math simple so I could do it and still enjoy my coffee. This exercise involves a lot more personal judgment calls than math anyway. I didn’t realize till I was done how handy this little equation could really be.
Probably one of the reasons for my thinking that math can answer everything is that I just finished reading a book called Ancient Knowledge. It was written by a mathematician who said he found a single math equation that proves we have been wrong all along about everything from the bible to the space race. People may think most of his stuff is nuts but even if his answers are wrong the questions he asked in the book are ones that should be asked. I highly recommend this book but you might want to skip the infamous chapter 10.
So the first element of my motivation equation is Desire (D). This is the amount of personal motivation to do a given task. To keep it simple I used a scale of one to five. After all, I didn’t want to put too much work into this exercise. The second element is Effort (E). This is the amount of get-up-and-go it’s gonna take to meet a successful resolution of the Desire. Again I used a scale of one to five. The goal of using the equation is to keep the amount of effort as low as possible to achieve desire. This makes the first part of the equation Effort divided by Desire or E/D. This is the first part of my Motivation Quotient. There’s more but let’s just cover this for now.
Let’s start with an example of getting a fresh cup of coffee. Say it’s your first cup of the day and you’ve just gotten up. Let’s face it, the desire for the first cup is pretty high and since you haven’t had any coffee yet, everything is a high effort. So desire is 5 and the effort variable is 5. Motivation Quotient is 1/1 or simply 1.
The second cup of coffee is a little different. The need for coffee is never gonna go down much, so we’ll put Desire at 4 where it will remain for the rest of the day. Effort is more difficult to decide mostly because we measure it against the method of brewing. If you use a multi-cup carafe brewer, effort is much lower because there’s no preparation as the next cup is there in the carafe – E = 2. If you have one-cup brewer its the same effort as before or maybe a little less since you are awake this time, we’ll say E = 4. As a result, the Motivation Quotient still is 1 if you have a 1-cup brewer but it’s half that or .5 if you are using the carafe. The lower Motivational Quotient using the carafe tells me what to ask for at Christmas time.
Oh, if only it were that simple. And again I have Snowball to thank. You see, behind every successful man is a woman pushing him on so we have to factor in the family. This involves adding in the number of family members involved in any desired goal exponentially. For the coffee exercise I was the only one involved so Family Exponent was 1 and not relevant.
Now we’ll use the example of mowing the lawn. Since I hate yard work of any kind the Desire of course is 1. I was tempted to use negative numbers here but I already determined the scale and I’ll grudgingly stick to it. Next since pushing a lawn mower around for an hour or so is not only a pain the ass but also several other parts of my anatomy it’s easy to give Effort a high number of 5. So already our Motivation Quotient factor is 5/1 or just 5. But you have to look at how many people are affected by your actions. Since Snowball would like a nice looking yard (and she comments when the grass is looking shabby) and I’m the one doing the mowing, we are both involved. That’s why I have to add a Family Exponent (F) of 2. That gives us (5/1)2 for a mind-bending Motivational Factor of 25. Way too high to expect to “Have a nice day” whenever the lawn needs mowing.
So that’s it. Effort (E) over Desire (D) to the power of Family (F) – (E/D)F. A simple way to measure everything in life from what kind of day you are going to have to what to ask for at Christmas.