You know what’s ironic?
Yes, it took me a while to get motivated for this post.
It’s near the beginning of the new year, and along with all the hugs and happiness there is also a level of optimism, or perhaps hope, that comes with the fresh start. I believe this is where those cruel jokes called ‘New years resolutions’ had their genesis. Yet, we all end up partaking in these jokes in one way or another. So, I would like to address this topic, BUT, rather than look at the nature of new years resolutions (NYRs) I will give them the benefit of the doubt and talk about something far more fundamental. Motivation. Without it, the world sits on the couch and makes excuses. I sit on the couch and make excuses. Let’s have a look at what motivation might be, how we get/acquire it and some ways to maintain it.
So what the heck is it? For me right now, I figure I can assess how I’m feeling presently, unmotivated, and then just give an opposite of that. So here goes: Energetic, not-sleep-deprived, alert, self-disciplined, resolute, courageous, enthusiastic. But, really that’s just how I’m feeling. Even so, looking at what I just described as motivation, I realise it’s a mental choice. The manifestations may be physical, but the original spark is a choice. So often we blame our inability to act for the failure to act. These two are so very different though. I feel this is the case for motivation, for me anyway. We, I, blame a perceived inability for the fact that we don’t act. So often you hear the phrase (or use the phrase) ‘I just don’t feel motivated’. We say this as though motivation is like feeling hungry – it’s a bodily function that works on it’s own accord. I propose that motivation is not a bodily function outside our direct control, but rather it is a choice, and thankfully so! We usually find motivation when the task at hand excites us or has some very obvious and positively impacting effect on us. I’m not saying this isn’t legitimate motivation, it is, but we must guard against the error of seeing these things as the only source for motivation. It can spring from future goals or a desire to correct past mistakes or missed opportunities. Motivation can come from a simple desire to do or be. It can be these things without the instant excitement or interest. These things are also choices. They are decisions that we make to act, think and be. It’s not a bodily function, (stop thinking what you’re thinking when I say that!) it’s a mental decision to be.
So, this illusive decision to be – how does one come to it? Is there a secret formula? Yes and no. Yes, in that there is something that is able to get us off the couch and get stuck into doing life. No, because that something is something unique to all of us and therefore cannot be prescribed like pills over the counter. That something I believe is value. What gets valued gets done. Take this post for example, I wasn’t motivated to do it originally. Yet you are reading it now, so how did I procure that motivation? Value spurred me into action. I value the position I have within Hello Noise, I value the commitment I’ve made to my colleagues, I value my commitment to myself to be something! (a really hipster blogger). I value my contribution to this group and my contribution to those who read this. I value my ability to do things with my life. It’s just that sometimes I forget these values. Sometimes I value the comfy couch more, but I know I’m not alone in this. Yet, most are blessed with the ability to reason, and with such an ability we can priorities our values. I believe this is the next step in motivation. First we understand and remember what we value, then we list those values according to their weight and worthiness. This however requires a great deal of honesty with ourselves. Though I’ll give us all the benefit of the doubt for now. I value the comfy couch and it’s warm and accepting embrace. It never judges, it never questions. It takes me in with no expectations. Clearly this value is weighty. On the other hand I value the commitment I’ve made to others. Through this commitment I’ve been given opportunity, possibility and a chance. I value my place in this group. As a part of this group I have friends, chance for growth, a chance to give and take. I value what this means for me. I can grow. I can be. I can live. I can interact with my life! So I have before me these two valued ‘things’. Now I must decide which is weightier, which is more worthy. The decision is simple. Yet here comes the crunch – we much choose to act on that. I believe motivation is a choice. We choose to be motivated, based on what we value and why. If you want motivation – draw it from what’s important to you. Draw it from who you are as a unique and interesting individual.
Finally, how do we maintain motivation – this is so hard. We can jump up off the couch, spending all our energy in the leap, only to flop back down. As noted in that analogy, being measured helps. Unfortunately motivation is not an infinite resource once it’s discovered. I believe it’s a renewable resource though! Therein lies our answer. Just like a flower needs water to grow and stay alive, our motivation needs constant revitalisation to remain vibrant. Remember what you value – protect and build up those values. It’s no use placing value in something that will soon pass away into insignificance for us. For example – don’t get a tattoo of the chick you met at the bar, or that delicious, masterly crafted double quarter pounder you ate (very easy to do I know) – their worth is fleeting. Make sure those sources of motivation, those valued things are of lasting meaning – family, close friends, your future, your past, yourself – [insert your own source here]. From these things will spring your desire to live, to act, to think and to be. From them and for them we find motivation.
It’s such a blessing that motivation is a choice. That means we have so much more control, but also input into it. I can choose to be motivated. That for me is a great comfort. So, as the new years rolls on by, I’m going to seriously reconsider those things of value in my life. Then, I’ll act on them. Here’s hoping. I wish you all a great new year and I hope you all find motivation and keep it alive!
So tell me, what motivates you to ‘get off the couch’?