Re-Defining Motivation™

Motivation for many is a lot like grasping at smoke. The reason I believe this to be true is this: As one either tries to get motivated or, stay motivated, under the surface, they really don’t want to be doing what they’re doing in the long-term. Let me explain…

Getting motivated as to overcome procrastination is one thing. Another may be in trying to change a disliked task into something more bearable or pleasant. Both fall into the general category where one sometimes needs to induce some form of motivation.

These are challenges which are conquerable that everyone faces. No one is immune. However, motivating oneself as to “stay motivated” to do something they deplore for the long haul doesn’t work. i.e., Staying in a job, position, business, career, etc.

For true motivation to work for you (rather than against you) in your long-term goals, it needs to be refocused so it engages you into action when needed – without too much forethought. Or, put another way: Your motivation should not be focused in isolation upon the task as to “get you through” so you can continue doing the unpleasant ad infinitum. i.e.,  Chanting to one’s self “I love changing diapers!” before you change your own child’s diaper is one thing. Trying to stay motivated using the same technique because you needed to take a position where it’s now your job at some nursery is quite another.

You may have glossed over that last example however, it’s imperative to truly understand its implications. I believe this is the exact juncture where people do more to frustrate themselves rather, than to help one’s self.

Let me express my point this way:

What good is learning how to motivate oneself to do tasks (as in the changing diapers example) if in the end, doing those very tasks result in you locking yourself into a lifetime career of diaper changing? Something in which may be the furthest thing from your long-range goals.

Focusing solely on the task rather than the long-term implication can produce results in not only a direction one didn’t want to go rather, the damage can multiply exponentially.

If you find ways as to make the most unpleasant of tasks more “pleasant.” Can you also be unknowingly allowing more time to pass before making the necessary changes? You may just be keeping yourself “motivated” to do a lifetimes worth of drudgery you hate.

Sometimes what makes this problem even worse is the fact some may have purchased someone’s so-called “motivational program” as to learn some form of insights or help in how to motivate (and stay motivated) as a way out of this predicament. Only to realize (and sometimes not) they motivated themselves right into something they wanted nothing to do with from the start.

And, it’s right here so many will remain not only stuck but – will give up and let life have its way with them. The reason? Most will say, “Yep, tried that stuff, doesn’t work. Where’s the TV remote?”

Similar to other struggles, self-help or self-improvement is a very personal game. It also means the players, referees, score keepers, press coverage, et al are self-contained in one’s own head. And, just like any other inner games, they can mirror emotional endeavors as in: Once scorned – putting faith or trust back in is daunting.

It’s far easier for one to just quit playing the game rather than trying to realign an entire league or franchise in oneself. And, for my take: There’s no one as distrusting or overly skeptical as a scorned self-improvement or motivational participant.

Not only do they no longer want to play – they want any league or franchise dismantled, never to see the light of day again. As I stated earlier, the resulting indifference to anything “motivational” again can mirror the same results as a “scorned” emotion.

Once again the real issue is not with motivation per se. It’s where the motivation is focused and placed that makes all the difference. Most so-called “motivation gurus” are in love with their methodology. i.e., They see every problem as a nail and motivation as the hammer. No matter what size the nail, they believe only in a different sized mallet.

This is where I break from most. Sometimes you need to remove the nail, not pound it deeper in. This is where true use of motivation in self-mastery comes in. Knowing what tools to use and when is the key. “All In One” tools might help in an emergency however, nothing beats a well stocked toolbox when you need it. Knowing the power and limitations of each is critical in today’s competitive environment.

There is nothing wrong with disliking any task and not seeking “motivational happy talk” as to help get through it, if your motivation is focused on doing the things, or making the changes, necessary to never have to do such a task again. You want your motivation to be focused on the longer term. If done correctly the shorter term many times works itself out.

Let me give you a personal example to express this and how I used “motivation” to work through a very tough undertaking years ago: Smoking.

I was what some might refer to as a heavy smoker for nearly 2 decades. I averaged anywhere from 1 to 2 packs per day with gusts to 3 if I was out for a night on the town with friends. I was one of those people who smoked and yet could still run a 5K event with little to no impairment. I never had any of the effects that cause many to quit. However, one day I just had enough and decided that’s it.

What I did next differs from what most others would advise. i.e., Chew gum, drink this, do that, etc. To me, that is only replacing one habit with another habit. The goal (or the motivation) is to not have any habit at all.

If I used albeit a more acceptable habit or less life threatening one. All I would be doing is using tools as to keep a habit. Rather, than the real underlying goal of deleting a habit from my life. (It’s important to get this point – it can’t be understated.)

When I was going through all the discomforts associated with it, I focused on just how bad it had, and was affecting me. How miserable and dependent I had become. I didn’t look for something “motivational” like CD’s, mantras, whatever to help me. No, I used motivation in the big picture view. What I wanted in the end. In other words; the what and the why I needed to go through, so I could be what I wanted in the end. Free.

Once I surmounted those challenges, I would never allow myself to get back there. I needed to remember and focus on just how bad I felt, how insecure I was not having them within reach and more. I used the disgust in myself that I had allowed it to become part of me as my motivation.
(I have no issue with anyone that smokes. I can sit anywhere, in any room filled with people smoking and have no issues. I am just as repulsed by the proselytizing reformed smoker as anyone else.)

So I’ll ask. Do you think or believe the above would have been suggested by any “motivational” speaker on today’s world stage? My answer is: Hardly.

I’m not saying you should follow my example. That is how I handled something in my life and I offer it here only for context. How you handle circumstances in your own life is of your own choosing. However, be well aware – you are always choosing. And, as the saying goes, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

If you’re looking for guidance or insights in motivational thinking, where you can actually put power behind your true decisions. And, has lasting influence on your greater challenges. Rather than frustrating one’s self in a never-ending parade of tiny moves that seem to be getting one nowhere. Re-focus your intents and motivations on the larger theme at hand. The true underlying theme you want to change – or pursue.

Stop looking for techniques that may only result in finding easier ways to do things you can’t stand doing in the first place.

Focus your motivation and apply workable strategies on where you need to go and why. i.e., “I’m going to build ________ so I can hire someone so that I never have to change diapers again!”

Then doing what needs to be done so you can stop doing the unpleasant tasks in the first place will seemingly take care of themselves.

I’ll leave you with this:

Of all the issues associated with quitting smoking. By far, the hardest of them all, after it has all been said and done. (Which is now going on 20 years) The decision to actually quit and start was by far the hardest. Yet…

It was my focus on the big picture that kept my motivation working for me. It can work for you as well when properly applied or aligned.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr