Day 74: Finding your motivation
You don’t want to do it. I don’t blame you, I wouldn’t want to do it either. So what do you do when the work is piling up and the weight of things in your to do box is so massive that you feel like you can’t move? Well first, remember you’re not alone. Next, …well that depends on you.
Motivation, it’s the thing that gets us up in the morning. Whether it is just the urge to eat something or the nagging feeling in the back of your head that tells you, “if you don’t get up, you’re never going to get anything accomplished.” The things that drive you are very specific to yourself. This idea that your motivation has to be something meaningful to you has been on my mind since I wrote about finding the daily routine that works best for you.
The problem here is that just like my piece on daily routines, there is no one thing that gets a person motivated. It’s very person specific and try as the internet might, you’re never going to find the one weird trick that will always keep you motivated. That’s because what motivates you is as fluid as who you are as a person.
Now wait, you might be thinking, I’ve always been me. On one hand that is correct, you’re always in the perspective of yourself. However, things you like, from food to clothing can (and does) change on a regular basis. If you need proof of that I challenge you to open your closet and take a hard look at the clothing you haven’t worn in months. Tastes, like motivation, change more than we care to admit.
So how does one find the motivation to do anything if it’s just going to change as quickly as you can find it? The answer isn’t as simple as giving you the secret to unlimited motivation, sorry. However, just like you can create a framework to find your perfect daily routine, you can create a framework to keep you motivated. Spoiler, it ties in a lot with goal setting. That’s because most often our goals are a reflection of the things that motivate us.
Which brings me to my first piece of advice, find a good goal. If you haven’t go back and read the piece on goal setting. The short of it is that just like any good map, you need to have milestones to make sure you keep on the right path. Furthermore, just like any good map, your route can change just like your motivation for your goal can (and inevitably will) change.
Second, motivation is like running a marathon for the first time, yes every single time you want to find that motivation. Think of it like a snowball effect, as you start it seems impossible, but as you continue and the finish line comes ever closer, it gets easier to keep going. My goal was to blog for 365 days about my life in academia. The motivation for this was to teach, learn, and keep a stock of knowledge that I can easily reference.
Day 1 was hard, I had 364 days left and if you go back to the first few posts I consistently reference how much longer I have. I didn’t notice that until I first realized I hadn’t mentioned how long I had left anymore. I realized that as my goal progressed it became less of a chore and more of a want to succeed. After all I’m now 74 days in, that seems so much further along than the first 20! My point is this, the motivation may change, but if the goal remains the same as you get closer to the end of that goal, it becomes easier to stick with it.
Third, having selfish motivations isn’t a bad thing. Everything we do in life is selfish, I hate to burst the saintly bubble, but it’s true. You want to cure childhood cancer, well that’s great; I’m sure the fame and recognition isn’t a motivation at all. There is a selfish reason behind everything we do in life, that isn’t a bad thing, it can be an unhealthy thing if taken to the extreme, but it isn’t bad to be motivated by the idea of fame, or fortune, or just the satisfaction of understanding something very complex. Don’t be afraid to admit it, even if it is just to yourself.
The fourth bit of advice I can offer is this, somedays motivation can be in short supply, but that is okay. My goal is to blog daily, my motivation to do so comes and goes, if you notice some posts are longer than others, some are just I need a day to myself. That is okay, I’ve said this often in the last few posts, but taking a break is never a bad thing. If I would’ve just given up after the first time I needed a minute to unwind, I wouldn’t be here writing this now. Take a minute for yourself if you need it, you’ll be more inclined to keep with your goal if you do, but that doesn’t mean completely abandon it the first sign of waning motivation, it just means taking a step back and reminding yourself why you created the goal in the first place.
Lastly (since five seems to be a nice round number anyway), motivation is deeply personal. Notice I didn’t mention anywhere what your motivation should be. There is a reason for that, motivation can come in all forms and there is never going to be a straightforward answer to what can motivate you, because the only person who can answer that is yourself. However, don’t feel bad if it takes you time to find the best ways to motivate yourself. Sometimes the best way to motivate yourself is to remind yourself why you picked the goal you did. Sometimes the thing that motivates you isn’t so obvious, but that is why you should plan before starting something big and take time to remind yourself why you are doing it.
Heck maybe the way you find your motivation is by writing a blog post on motivation to remind yourself that it’s okay to take a step back from time to time and the world won’t come crashing down around you just because society tells us that we need to be productive 24/7 or we are failures at life. I’m not sure what kind of person would blog about motivation to get themselves going though, so maybe that is a bit outlandish… right?
Until next time, don’t stop learning!