Motivation. It’s that word you see on motivational posters at your gym or in your dentist’s office…but why should you care?
In the words of the web-famous comic artist K. Steel, “You’ve spent infinity years not being born yet and you will spend another infinity years being dead. Finish your cereal and go outside.”
Take a step back and look at yourself. In the grand scheme of things, you are small. Your life is insignificant, and you will likely never be so famous that your name lives on past your actual existence.
So if your life is just a drop in the bucket of consciousness, what makes you get up and do things every day? What makes your life worth living?
Does it rub you the wrong way to be called “insignificant?” If so, the reason is probably that you feel the strong urge to make an impact. You are motivated to change and be something greater. Not everyone has this inner voice that pushes their drive for success, but you’re going to play a dangerous game if you go your whole life lacking gumption.
The definition isn’t complicated. Simply put, motivation is the desire or needs to do things!
Do you need to take out the trash? What makes you feel that “need?” Do you need to study hard or impress your boss, and why? It could be anything from peer pressure to wanting to make more money, but the fact is…motivation drives you to the action!
What’s The Motive?
There are entire motivational communities that tell readers how to find the motivation to leave toxic relationships, read a hundred books in one year, or clean their bathrooms regularly. Realistically, motivation is a driving presence in every part of your life, whether you realize it or not.
Every day, you’re bombarded with other people and their complicated personal motivations.
The nightly news is postponed for a special on a crime in progress – why is there a fugitive running rampant in your community?
If you’re a comic book fan, you love the Batman franchise, but find the Joker particularly confusing because his actions seem to have no motive.
And a little bit closer to home…your in-laws are determined to be as nasty to you as humanly possible, but you aren’t sure why. Hmmm?
Motivation. It’s in the media. It’s in the news. It’s in your personal life. Whether the outcome is good or bad, every action has a discernible, specific thought process behind it. You should care about motivation because it is literally the driving force of the world around you.
So, everything in your life is a rational cause and effect statement. That’s right, you didn’t leave math proofs behind you in high school. If you wanted to sit down and map out your own motivation for eating that cheesecake when you’re supposed to be dieting, you could draw a flowchart. I wasn’t hungry, but I love sweets and the cheesecake was available; therefore, I ate the cheesecake and will feel a bit fatter in the morning.
Thankfully, your motivations won’t always be about adding extra padding around your waist. Sometimes you’ll be able to map out things like why you got a new job or aced a test. Understand the process?
So, the trick to motivating yourself is to think about the eventual outcome in your cause/effect scenario. Other times you can build motivation using the direction of others as your foundation (i.e., your boss tells you to do something and you do it because you don’t want to lose your job).
The Core Of Your Motivation
So where does your motivation come from? When you were a kid and your room was as messy as a trailer park after a tornado, your motivation for cleaning probably came from threats from your parents. Or do you remember the constant pressure to get good grades in school so you could attend college or land a decent job?
Finding motivation from places other than your own personal desires is similar to the “nurture” half of the “nature versus nurture” debate. Your surroundings have a direct effect on your reasons for doing things.
When society tells you that you should advance up the corporate ladder or ace your college exams because that’s what the Jones’ are doing, your motivation isn’t really your own. (That isn’t to say that it’s less important or powerful!)
So, on the other side of that debate, “nature.” Do you see people in your life that seem naturally more motivated than you are? Is the desire to get up and do things genetic at all?
While there might be science behind that subject, (read on for more on that), the good news is that you can win out over genetics with some good old fashioned elbow grease.
Motivating yourself is simple if you know what exactly inspires you to work.
How many times during your workday today did you remind yourself that payday is coming up? Did it make you work a little harder or refocus on whatever you were doing? Good job mate! Thinking about all the bacon you’d bring home was a great choice in terms of motivating yourself.
Self-motivation is usually going to include looking forward to future rewards. Gyms post pictures of buff bodies for a reason, you know. Pyramid schemes motivate their customers by advertising prizes.
Cigarette ads play up the sexy or cool factor, knowing that consumers are motivated to buy when looking at these things.
Appearance and wealth are such strong motivators that companies have been making bank on them since the dawn of advertising.
If at the end of the day, having money makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something, then using a hypothetical promotion to motivate yourself into working harder isn’t bad.
Consequential Reality Kick Into Gear
If you want to see “bad,” try not being motivated at all. Your consequences for being lazy or apathetic range from being seen as unattractive TO living in a box on the side of the road. A lacking love life, career, social life, physical state of being…these are all things you should consider next time you call off work to sit on the couch with a pint of double fudge ice cream.
But aside from all that, perhaps the most alarming thing you can lose by not being a motivated person is your sense of self.
At some point in your life, you’re going to have an existential crisis. It’s like a midlife crisis, only there aren’t fun red convertibles involved. Instead, there are questions like, “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?” being thrown around.
No matter how you decide to answer these questions, this fact still remains: you must find something in life that makes you feel fulfilled. And once you have found this thing, you must strive towards it with every ounce of your being.
Remember when being called “insignificant” pissed you off a little bit? This is how you prove you aren’t. You’re better than an everyday Joe, and that’s great!
This isn’t rocket science. You find your goal, you work towards your goal, you achieve your goal.
That’s the practical, do-it-yourself secret to motivation.