The challenge is that motivation is tricky. There are whole classes on motivation. At Iowa State University, where Jessica and I both graduated from, you can take a semester psychology course just on motivation. There are different theories from Darwin, Freud, cognitive psychologists and behavior psychologists. I think I just lost some of you, didn’t I? So, the truth is, if you want to learn about the theories of motivation, go for it. I just won’t be talking about it in this space.
What I’d like to do is share what I’ve learned in my own journey and how it might (hopefully) relate to you. Let’s start with Merriam-Webster’s definition of motivation:
1. a: the act or process of motivating
b: the condition of being motivated
2. a motivating source, stimulus, or influence: incentive, drive
And was that very helpful? Well, not really. No magic pill. No step-by-step program. Just some words. That’s really all I have to offer, too, is words on screen. I could type until my fingers fall off, and that won’t help you get motivated. Jessica and I can provide inspiration by sharing our stories and what has and has not worked for us, but ultimately motivation has to come from within you. So that’s where we’re going to start: with YOU!
Who are you? What’s your personality? What makes you tick? I think it’s the foundation for getting motivated.
When I was in late middle school or early high school, there was a time when my Dad offered to pay my brother, who is two years younger than me, for every “A” he got on his report card. Apparently, my brother’s teacher(s) thought he was doing well in school, but not working to his potential. I had some “As” on my report card, so I asked if I could get paid, too. “No,” said my Dad, “you’re not motivated by money.” I’m sure I thought that was hugely unfair, but I also knew it was correct. I’m not motivated by money. I wasn’t then, and I’m not now. I’m just not wired that way.
You have your own wiring, too. Are you a leader or a follower? Risk taker or cautious planner? An introvert or an extrovert? Do you have a natural inner drive to push yourself or do you need some external stimuli to get you going? (More on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation next week, stay tuned!) Are you task oriented or people oriented?
There are no right and wrong answers to these questions. You are who you are. I believe you were created to be you for a reason. I’m tempted sometimes to answer those kind of questions with what I wish I was like, rather than who I am. I mean, I’m an extroverted leader with a total inner drive to dominate the world, right? Not. at. all. I’m strongly introverted, prefer not to lead, and my inner drive is dependent on the day and the task at hand. (P-p-p-procrastinator.)
I know Jessica pretty well, so I’m going to say that she is an extroverted leader who could probably dominate the world. (I didn’t tell her I was going to write this, so she can dispute it in the comments, if need be.) That’s why she took the initiative to start The Journey. It’s why she gets so pumped to teach fitness classes and encourages you to join her. Her posts emphasize working hard and pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do.
I, on the other hand, need my alone time to survive. I need time to think about life and process things in my head. That makes getting out to do a run/walk combo by myself a good choice for me. I’m not opposed to joining a fitness class, but it’s not really my first choice. I naturally take on too many things and then burn myself out, so my posts here tend to emphasize small changes and slow progress.
So, this week, take some time to evaluate yourself. Answer the questions about who you are from the paragraphs above. Like I said, there are no right and wrong answers here. This is not a graded quiz. Next week we’ll start building on the foundation of our personality, but first we need to understand ourselves.
Here are some other articles that might prove useful:
Understanding Your Personality: Balancing Tasks and People :: by Mandi Ehman at Simple Mom