Motivation is vitally important to your life. You can’t succeed in life without it. Motivation is the fuel that makes you go. Think about it. If you weren’t motivated you wouldn’t get out of bed on time in the morning, you would drag your feet getting to work, and you would probably do haphazard work because all you have working for you is obligation. All the while you’d be longing for the couch and TV so you could flip on the latest episode of Survivor and live vicariously through someone else who is motivated.
Don’t get me wrong, you can operate, but I wouldn’t call it living. It’s like eating nothing but bread and water. Sure you’d get your caloric intake, but the human body was designed to need more. Your brain needs certain fats to operate and your muscles needs protein. Without a completely balanced diet you would be slowly starving you body of vital nutrients until you wasted away. In the same way, you could survive without motivation, but it’s no way to live, in fact some would say you’re not really living until you find something worth dying for.
So let’s say you recognize you aren’t motivated and you want to
do the responsible thing and do something about it. What do you do?
Recognize what is discouraging you
For me, it was the 8 years I spent in the corporate world - and I’m amazed I lasted that long. I mean no disrespect to people who like their corporate jobs, but in my opinion human beings were not designed to be treated like cattle. Being ruled by an iron fist, ridiculous, unnecessary rules and regulations, the cut-throat competition mentality to get to the top, not being allowed to think or act beyond your present jobs’ scope, the rampant
brown-nosing, and pervasive simulacra was more than I could bare. This is what deflated me. I could go on and on, but that’s a whole other post.
Carve out the discouraging parts of your life
So once you identify what is sucking the drive out of you then you’re going to want to start taking steps to carve that out of your life. That doesn’t mean flat out quit your job or write-off someone who tears you down on a regular basis. You need a job to pay the bills and you need people whether you want to admit it or not. Plus people are inherently flawed and deserve respect so you should try to work things out. I’ll talk about working with difficult people in another post. For now just know that once you’ve identified the problem you need to make some adjustments. If it’s just life circumstances that are getting you down then do what Jon Acuff says, “…find the 2%.” Jon is referring to the idea there will be many times when you find yourself in a tough situation and everything looks like it’s outside your control. It’s not. When you take the time to take a breath and assess the facts of the situation you’ll discover that 98% of the variables are outside of your control, but 2% of them are controllable. Find the 2%, carve the motivation-killer out of your life, and then…well, that leads me to the next step.
Find out what motivates you
It took me years to figure out what motivates me and how to operate in a motivated mode most of the time. It turns out much of it was right under my nose. I just had to think about it. Start by asking yourself some key questions:
- What inspires you?
- What drives you to take action?
- What do you get excited about?
- What are you interests and hobbies?
- What do you talk about a lot?
- What do people say you talk about a lot? Ask them.
- What positive things do you turn to when you feel down?
- What is your personality type and how does it play into or support what motivates you?
- What are your natural strengths and how do they play into or support what motivates you?
As I started to discover what motivates me I drew from a couple of things. Two tools were my DISC personality profile and my Strengths Finder 2.0 report. I’ve taken personality assessments in the past, but until I realized the importance of knowing who I am, how I work, and how I relate to people, the reports were not incredibly meaningful to me, so I didn’t do much with them. When I started searching for what motivates me I was able to connects some dots and see how my personality supported how I am motivated. For example, I’m a high “I” on the DISC profile. High I individuals are characterized as friendly, extroverted, sociable, gregarious, possess well-developed social skills, and a desire to meet and talk with people. So it stands to reason that one of the ways I am motivated is by connecting with people, getting their inspiring stories, learning from them and serving them. Connecting with people and getting to know them gives me immense joy to know that there are good people walking around out there among the masses and they get life. They have a purpose bigger than themselves and they are using their unique gifts and strengths to make a positive impact in this broken world. I’m not alone.
As I continued to look at my life I also examined my interests and hobbies. Back in grade school I learned to play flute and saxophone. And I always enjoyed performing with the entire band. Playing with a full band is a magical experience because you can’t produce the awesome sound overnight. Musicians wrestle with the music individually and as a team for countless hours in order to make it sound amazing. So pouring my own blood, sweat, and tears into learning how to read music, and play a few instruments at the high school level gave me a deeper appreciation for music - the stuff on the radio or anywhere for that matter. Music motivates me. It might sound strange, but it really charges me. I feel connected to whatever context the music is enhancing and it brings back fond memories.
One other way I’m motivated is through stories, be it movies, novels, or biographies. Now, I’ve enjoyed movies and reading books for as far back as I can remember, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized that I don’t just read and watch these stories for entertainment. I take the stories, relate to the characters, glean life lessons from them and apply them to my life, and share the lessons with others I coach through life. I empathize with the characters, they inspire me – especially when it’s a story about a regular guy or underdog who rises up to face inconceivable odds. I often feel like I just got a steroid shot of hope. And I hate needles.
Once you know what motivates you tap into that force. It will take you to a whole other level in your life. People will see a new energized you, you’ll be more productive, happier, you’ll have more meaningful relationships, you’ll be healthier, and the valleys in your life (discouraging times) won’t be as deep and prolonged. You’ll love it.
Do you know what motivates you?