Cultivating Burning Desire

March 16th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Yet another updated article: “Cultivating Burning Desire.” This one is originally from 2002 and is about ways to increase your motivation.

The most commonly misunderstood quote from this article is the recommendation to “burn the ships.” Burning the ships means cutting off escape routes to your goals so you won’t turn back. Done right it can increase motivation by goading you to press on where you might otherwise give up prematurely. Some people unfortunately interpreted this suggestion as “burn the food and supplies” too, meaning that you throw all caution to the wind and overcommit yourself by taking unwarranted risks. The proverbial ships are your escape route; you don’t need them once you’ve committed to a new course. But you still need to take care of your survival needs. So burn the ships, but keep your food and supplies. Take intelligent calculated risks; don’t be reckless or foolhardy and hope everything will somehow work out.

To some people an unhappy job or an unhealthy relationship are their ships, which must be abandoned before the person will have the drive to move on. For others these things are necessary for survival, such that it would be foolish to abandon them prematurely until a new source can be obtained. One person’s ship is another person’s breakfast.


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