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Making the Most of Motivation

December 31, 2012

One sunny summer morning over breakfast on an open deck in Maine, a friend phoned and asked, “What’s your motivation for the day?” A seemingly simply question that includes a level of perplexity. That particular day posed plans of fun in the sun that I was excited, motivated about, but the question struck and stuck with me.

I spent some time unpacking the phrase that morning–questioning what my personal motivations were. Did they vary from day to day? Were there one or a few things that drew the majority of my attention and continually inspired me daily? What grounded my motivations–what was superficial and temporal and what was long withstanding? What shaped my days and what shaped my years?

Answers didn’t come easy, but thoughts flowed working through the process. It turned into an introspective adventure drawing out and roughly defining interests, concerns, values, goals and guiding ethics.

Finding out what gives you a personal rise–whether it tickles your stomach with butterflies of immense intrigue, charges you with concern and moral obligation to act, evokes an essence of ease or a heady sense of purpose–reveals you to yourself and clarifies why you do what you do.

Writing things down is immensely helpful, especially if you are in a period of transition or looking to be. Even if you’re seemingly steady and satisfied, you may come to realize that what motivates you is outside of your work and find directional motivation to change that.

Classify what motivations are derived from the fruits of life your grateful for, that awaken you to the world and the people within it making every breath fresh–these are generally more temporary, day to day circumstantial motivations. They are important, but seek deeper and denote what motivations stem from within, that mirror or reveal your values–these will lead to deep rooted interests and concerns that will help you figure out how you can apply yourself so your deep-seated motivations are at the helm every day.

Keep asking yourself, “What’s my motivation?” and you’ll soon find yourself with a gale in your sail and an even keel tracking your chosen route.

A couple motivational insights:

  1. Seth Godin, author, marketing guru, entrepreneur and public speaker asked readers of his blog, “What are you waiting for?” He meant, literally, what are you waiting for–what needs to happen for you to get started doing what you want to do and quit going through the motions of stalling.
  2. In an interview for The Writer, Diana Abu-Jabar, author of a award winning novels including her newest release Birds of Paradise, nominated a top book of the year for NPR, the Washington Post, and the Oregonian, and finalist for both the Northwest Bookseller’s Award and Chautauqua prize, wrote about her inspiration. She spoke of the process of starting a new book, when everything inspires her. She calls this time “sticky-brain,” where she becomes naturally receptive toward inspiration. By being open to be inspired by whatever comes your way, she notes, you’ll never run out of ideas.

In regards to Seth’s insight, once you find your core sources of motivation and want to apply them in life, or if you already have and are trying to set things in motion, follow Seth’s advice and pinpoint what is stopping you. You may find there is nothing, really, besides your own mind that is holding you back. Use your newfound motivational compass to guide your plan of action with gusto.

In regards to Abu-Jabar’s insight, once your motivations are revealed, live open to inspiration, find your curiosity and be open to anything that satiates it, where any instance of daily life speaks to you through unique inspirational tones correlating to your work, driving your motivation and stimulating the intellect. Patterns, coincidences and new ideas will begin flooding your mind and filling your work with motivational ideas.

Seth’s question strikes a nerve, because what you’re likely waiting for is motivation, inspiration and figuring out the proper way to do what you want to do while avoiding risk. There is not, however, a defined proper way or time to take your first step or advance to the next–just work backwards from your goal until you reach a step you can take, take it and look for the next step. Brush aside risk, if it’s what you want to do, do it. As Carlo Petrini, founder of international Slow Food, wrote, “it’s better to add life to days, than days to life,” so go for it.

Abu-Jabar’s advice resonates with me, and I can attest that knowing what your working on, what’s motivating you and what you’re trying to achieve will reveal robust ideas from seemingly random instances in almost scary clarity. These help you overcome the conundrum wrapped in Seth’s question.

The whole world of motivational awareness and discovery has been most welcoming, revealing and, well, motivating for me. Improving social and environmental conditions toward systemic change rooted in evolved consciousness keep me going.

What keeps you going? Whether right now or a firm belief? Does it add a pep to your step and keep you smiling, drive your passion for what you do daily, both, or?

What’s your motivation for the day?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2013 3:39 am

    Great post! I really needed to read this. Thanks!

    • January 3, 2013 4:24 am

      You bet, HC – glad it helped give you a boost! Thanks for stopping by and dropping a note.


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