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.

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