Motivation, in my opinion, is one of the most misunderstood determiners of behavior in our lives. We find ourselves on the roller coaster of life, thinking we need encouragement from outside sources to give us “motivation” for success. Yet, do we really need someone to push us towards a high, leaving us falling into another low? This can leave us with feelings of discouragement. Maybe we just need to understand what motivation really is and how to use its power.
We all have attended seminars where the goal of the performer was to show us the light and give us the tools for success. We sat with our friends and listened to the speaker’s ideas on overcoming fear, realizing who we really are, or doing what is needed to achieve greatness. Our subconscious minds portrayed images of us being kings for a day or as gorillas, beating our chests with feelings of “I will do it.” We took copious notes, thinking, “I will forget this and need to review it later to keep this feeling.” No one paying attention left the room thinking anything of themselves other than they could accomplish whatever they wanted. We were “motivated”! Then what happens? We fall back into life as usual and perhaps wonder how the motivated keep motivated.
What about when we attend a friend’s or loved one’s funeral service? We often sit in the congregation amazed at how this person’s life was so blessed and how they had accomplished so much. We think of how we can improve our lives so someone can say the same about us someday. We leave “motivated” to not let life pass us by. Our minds are filled with a deep and sincere need to accomplish. Then what happens? We fall back into life as usual and perhaps wonder how the motivated keep motivated.
My dear brother-in-law lost his father to aggressive cancer as a young man. He knew that this disease would be something he would need to watch for in his life. My nurse sister would see to it that he was checked regularly. Hugh learned he had contracted the same disease in one of these regular checkups. His news, “Hugh, you have prostate cancer,” as you can imagine, was devastating to all who know Hugh. There were times we collectively thought there might not be anything that could be done. What then? In family gatherings, we would talk about the great man Hugh is and that he would make it through this trial. When a loved one close to you is scared of a life-threatening disease, you also begin to evaluate your own life. You find yourself realizing how fragile life is; you want to accomplish more. You don’t want to leave this life with your music still inside of you or not having made a difference. You default to things you can improve on and are “motivated” to accomplish unfinished tasks. Then what happens? We fall back into life as usual and perhaps wonder how the motivated keep motivated.
So why do we misunderstand motivation? It is simple: When we experience motivating times, they take us from being ourselves to thinking of the end result. We go from being Average Joe to Superman without the necessary steps in between. Our minds don’t naturally fill in the path to success with daily minor achievements. To accomplish anything we want in life, we must go step by step. In seminars, they tell us how we can be the person we dream of being and leave us thinking we are. Then we soon realize we are still ourselves and forget the feelings we had just experienced. The default is “I am who I am.” The thought leaves our subconscious, thinking it is a monumental leap of faith even to try. Everyone (including those who have achieved) would get discouraged by these thoughts as the most successful among us have not grown at that pace.
What if we really understood motivation, and with this understanding, we could be anything we want to be? We can; we just need to understand. Realize that anyone in our world who you consider a superstar is just as you are, someone who puts their pants on one leg at a time. Oddly enough, there are traits you have they wish they had; and they may hope to be as you are in many respects. We just don’t recognize it. Now, realize the person in your world who you consider a superstar is achieving what they are because they work at it. They did not fall into stardom instantly; instead, these stars are days, weeks, months, or maybe years ahead of you only because they have already begun their voyage. Then realize “motivation” is simply taking one step at a time and not giving up. You don’t need to go from the ground floor to the top of the building in one step; no one can! Take one step at a time and be motivated to keep climbing. Don’t expect a rocket blast to take you past critical steps. These steps give us sustainability and experience to stay on top after we get to our desired outcome. Without these gradual steps, our success, if we got there, would only be temporary.
Life is growing–line upon line–and making sure we stay on track. If we get down, use motivation to get back. When we find our passion and are motivated to stick with it, we will accomplish anything we hope for over time. Use times in your life when you feel inspired to keep you going. Don’t become discouraged by lack of overnight accomplishment; instead, remember: step by step, line upon line, one day at a time. Motivation is knowing you are learning, growing, and succeeding toward your desired outcome while sustaining positive momentum.