On Being Motivated

In general, I’m the kind of person who likes to take action. I hate sitting around and planning. I’m impatient. It’s hard for me to do nothing. Once I know what I want to do, I do it.

Sometimes that makes it hard for me to understand when others don’t make progress toward their goals. When someone tells me they want to achieve a goal- whether it’s my students who want to get better grades or a friend telling me they want to lose weight or start exercising, I’m immediately on board. I tell them everything they can do to start making the changes they so desire. Go to the Learning Center on campus. Come to my boxing classes with me. Often, I’m not met with enthusiasm, which is baffling to me. If you know what you want and you know how to get it, why don’t you do it? Sometimes I get angry in these situations, because I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to achieve their goals and meet their fullest potential. Our biggest enemy is so often ourselves.

Lately, I’ve started understanding them better. For whatever reason, this semester, I’ve had a rough time feeling motivated. I’ll think about what my goals are and how to meet them, and choose to sit around the house instead. I’ll read or watch TV or even mope and wonder why I’m feeling bored and sad. I hate it. I hate myself when I do it. But I do it anyway.

Occasionally, I’ll engage in an activity that seems to re-inspire me. Boxing often does this, (though while I’m mentally energized, it does leave me physically tired). Yesterday, I met with someone on campus who recruits faculty to write for the newspaper. I went into the meeting feeling bleh and unmotivated. But I came out of with a newfound desire to work on planning the novel I want to write next month for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been avoiding that for at least a month and avoiding creative writing for almost a year. It was exciting and inspiring.

It got me thinking a lot about motivation. I’m usually someone with almost endless amounts of it, but I’ve really been sensing its limits lately. Maybe my motivational energy has been used up for inspiring me to keep boxing and eating healthy. Maybe it’s just decreased in general. Either way, I was so grateful for yesterday’s energy.

I think what makes me motivated is achieving or working toward achieving goals.¬† But I realized yesterday, some self-knowledge I’ve been resisting, is that other people motivate me. I feel motivated to write or even eat healthier when others praise my existing efforts or tell me they’re good ideas. I feel embarrassed that others motivate me, because I’d like to think I can just do everything myself. But it’s okay to rely on others for help and it’s okay to be who you are.

Figure out what motivates you. Whatever it is, don’t be ashamed of it. Use it to start achieving your own goals and taking control of your life.

Why Don’t We Do Things?

It’s been quite a bit longer than usual since my last post, so of course I spent awhile thinking about why I haven’t posted in awhile. I came up with a few theories which I eventually rejected, like I only needed this blog to get over my ex or the classic lie I’m really busy. Partly, I think it was because I psyched myself out over it. It had been so long since I last posted, I figured this post HAD to be really good. Thinking about it that way meant I always second-guessed my ideas for the next blog- it was okay, but was it the really good one I needed to keep people interested? Often we make these issues much bigger than they need to be in our minds. That can be what prevents us from doing them. I similarly have trouble coming up with creative ideas. One really helpful tip I found was instead of thinking of just one idea, think of ten. Then, you’re not picking the *best* one, but just listing anything you come up with. That helped a lot!

The other reason I haven’t posted in awhile is that I’ve doing horrible with my happiness project and I couldn’t figure out why. I also don’t like failing at things (I mean, who does?) I did a terrible job meeting my creative goals last month (I rarely did any of them) and I had been dreading the Work month. Surprisingly, not because I didn’t want to focus on work. Instead, it was because it wasn’t something to work toward. I already work hard at work and need to work harder this month (it’s advising season, so my time in the office is taken up by meeting with students about their schedules rather than getting other work done). I want this project to be about goals that I want to integrate in my life that I don’t already. Things I strive to achieve.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor’s office for my yearly physical (I swear this is going to be related- just bear with me). I couldn’t wait for her to get to the part where she asked me how often I exercised. In fact, I didn’t wait- I told her about how I joined Title Boxing Club right after she came in. Never in my life have I been excited to even talk about physical exercise. I’ve never sat in that seat in the Doctor’s office and felt proud. It was such a different experience.

As I talked to her, I found I was really interested in getting more information about health and exercise. We talked about my progress on losing weight and eating better. We talked about how to improve my sleep. I knew a surprising amount about these things, but I didn’t always utilize them for my own life.

I also got some good advice in health-related areas- things like is Diet Coke actually bad for you? (My opinion, biased of course by my love for Diet Coke, is that it has 0 calories so it’s fine!) Surprisingly (or maybe not to you!), that’s wrong. We both thought it might be leading to other health issues I’ve had like my low percentage of REM and deep sleep each night.

I told her about my counting calories weight loss strategy and as I was talking, realized that though I don’t do this every day, I should. I mentioned that I felt guilty not having seen a nutritionist all year, even though we talked about it the year before. After we talked, we both came to the realization that I didn’t really need to see one. It’s not that I don’t know what to do, it’s that I’m too lazy to do it. And I don’t like failing- if I don’t try, I can’t fail.

I absolutely hate that point of view though. I don’t want that to be me.

After that appointment, I felt inspired. I realized that what I really wanted to do was focus on my health. For so long, I’ve been lazy and uncaring about working out and about eating healthy. I just did whatever I wanted. It worked okay. Mostly, I felt a lot of guilt- I knew I *should* be doing it, but I just didn’t. Now I’m at a point in my life where I care about getting rid of the guilt. And I care about being healthy.

So, instead of my monthly happiness goals, what I want to focus on this year is my health. I want to track what I eat every day. I want to learn to eat healthier. I want to give up drinking Diet Coke every day. I want to keep boxing and do it more often. I want to take control of my health and my life. Instead of being intimidated by and feeling guilty about these activities, I want to embrace them full on.

I think I’ve made a great start with boxing and with getting myself on track to eat right, but there are a lot of other areas in which I still need to improve.

It helped me a lot to realize¬†why wasn’t I inspired by my happiness project. I don’t like doing something just to say I did or just because I want to meet my goals. I want it to be for a purpose. Now I have my new purpose. And I can’t wait to get started!