Highly motivated people, how do you do it?

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After reading Springy's post (a brilliant letter to motivation) and doing some deep thinking, I realised that I have lost all motivation. General background, I usually had something that drove me. In high school it was moving out of the house and out of this town. In uni it was because I was a first generation college student so I wanted to do my best. After graduation it was not coming back home- you get the idea.

Anyway, after coming back home and having my student visa denied, and not being able to get a job I have been feeling like my life does end here. I live in a rindy dink town (I am not exaggerating) where the entire town is made up of one way streets and all the young men sit on the street and smoke weed. It's getting really hard for me to believe that things are going to get better and that things will work out when I feel like I have nothing to drive me. It's like I used up all my passion and I can't find it anymore. I know it hasn't been that long, but (and I know some of you can relate) when you are employed each day just seems to drag on.

So, back to my original question. What drives you?
I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
"
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 15,533
Fear of shame and failure, plus a sense of urgency drive me.

I think that because Iike my work, and because I wasted years in the wrong profession (though I always wrote), I have this feeling of having to do my best. So, even though I goof off at times, and my work isn't always stellar, there's a strong sense of satisfaction in getting it right. Almost a gleefulness, I'd say, in crafting a phrase that truly describes a situation or a person or an emotion. An accuracy.

But you're in a different scenario.

If you can set small goals and meet them, it might help. Accomplishing something always makes me feel better, even when it's something lame like washing half the stupid dirty dishes. Then I might feel good enough, and have worked up enough energy to tackle something more important, like search for new clients, or check in with old ones. (Or page through the three non-sequential notebooks full of information I have for my current project, because I was too frazzled to realize, "Put this all in the same place, Ninja" at the time I was doing interviews.)

A sense of "what's next?" is what to shoot for, imo. If you're sure of what you're seeking, then you can focus your energy there. It's uncertainty which is defeating, as well as what it sounds like you're facing, which is the dread of stagnation, imo.

I do believe that most of us experience cycles of success and struggle in life. (Not everyone admits it, though.) If you can manage the sending out of three job queries per day, that may be your hurdle for now.

Discouragement is very hard to weather. Life begins to seem pointless. Try to think about the times you have been successful, and use those memories as tools to propel you now: "I got out of here once, so it stands to reason I'll get out again."

I hope this was helpful in any way. I'm sorry for your struggle; it really does sound tough.
Fear of shame and failure, plus a sense of urgency drive me.

I think that because Iike my work, and because I wasted years in the wrong profession (though I always wrote), I have this feeling of having to do my best. So, even though I goof off at times, and my work isn't always stellar, there's a strong sense of satisfaction in getting it right. Almost a gleefulness, I'd say, in crafting a phrase that truly describes a situation or a person or an emotion. An accuracy.

But you're in a different scenario.

If you can set small goals and meet them, it might help. Accomplishing something always makes me feel better, even when it's something lame like washing half the stupid dirty dishes. Then I might feel good enough, and have worked up enough energy to tackle something more important, like search for new clients, or check in with old ones. (Or page through the three non-sequential notebooks full of information I have for my current project, because I was too frazzled to realize, "Put this all in the same place, Ninja" at the time I was doing interviews.)

A sense of "what's next?" is what to shoot for, imo. If you're sure of what you're seeking, then you can focus your energy there. It's uncertainty which is defeating, as well as what it sounds like you're facing, which is the dread of stagnation, imo.

I do believe that most of us experience cycles of success and struggle in life. (Not everyone admits it, though.) If you can manage the sending out of three job queries per day, that may be your hurdle for now.

Discouragement is very hard to weather. Life begins to seem pointless. Try to think about the times you have been successful, and use those memories as tools to propel you now: "I got out of here once, so it stands to reason I'll get out again."

I hope this was helpful in any way. I'm sorry for your struggle; it really does sound tough.
Originally Posted by ninja dog
Thanks so much for responding, Ninja. I love the bolded!

I do like the idea of setting goals for myself. I had starting studying Spanish again, but I had to take a break because every time I've started I break down in tears. I need to stop crying.
I haven't decided what I want my next semi permanent move to be. I was still trying to figure out some things heart-wise, but I guess they figured themselves out and I'm still struggling to catch up. So now I don't know if I want a permanent job and go to school online or a permanent job and do a degree at my alma mater or a semi-permanent job and then move to school overseas. Argh!

I'm really starting to think about these immediate little goals but I don't know what I want to do. Maybe I need to get up and make breakfast for my mom in the mornings

Making a switch from being gone for 8 years is really hard and I guess this is more of a struggle than I thought it was going to be.

Thanks again, I definitely appreciate the suggestions and I have some soul searching to do.
ninja dog likes this.
I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
"
What it really comes down to is this: you put one foot in front of the other.

How you do that depends a lot on you. What motivates you to make that one small step is going to be different than what motivates me. Here are some things that motivate me:
  • coffee
  • exercise
    • if I am consistently doing yoga, it amps up my motivation levels in all matters significantly. I lose the urge to argue with myself about GTD and just GTD*. It's nice. Of course in order to do yoga, I need motivation, so if I'm sick or unable to do it for some reason, it can be a vicious cycle trying to get back in the habit.
  • bribery
    • chocolate, a new article of clothing, a glass of wine at quitting time
  • envy of others' successes and schtuf
  • peer pressure
    • sometimes I work in coffee shops because all the busy-ness makes me somehow feel like I need to keep up. SO also motivates me in this way. If he comes home from a full day of work and I haven't done much of anything, I feel like a lazy ass.
  • pride
  • fear
    • loss of money, loss of clients, loss of reputation
Just some of them, there's many more.

I get how factors that used to motivate you are no longer present. I too used to be more motivated when I was younger for a variety of reasons. As we get older, things are generally less novel and there are fewer things to push us externally, so the motivational energy has to come from within, and we have to learn to sustain it.

Supposedly I am a "highly motivated" person, or so I'm told, because I am my own boss. I don't really see it that way, because there are clients I am beholden to, and then there's the money.

[I guess with the beholden part I am wired to not want to let people down. I suppose I have that going for me.

But if a client makes a project open-ended, we're all screwed. I have a client right now who's sooooo nice, and he never sets deadlines. And his work keeps getting pushed to the next week. I am letting him down, but since he's not being strict about it, I'm getting away with it. It's bothering me, but not enough to do anything about it. Yet.]

So, anyway, I was saying I don't feel like a particularly highly motivated person. But I've been freelancing most of my career and the work keeps on comin', so I must be doing something right. However, sometimes I have to coax myself into doing the littlest thing, to get started with my day. Sometimes it comes much, much easier, like ND said. I try to understand it waxes and wanes and go easy on myself when my motivation is low but not too easy!

Also, like ND said, success brings more success. That's why it's "one step at a time." You feel more motivated when you've already checked something off the To Do list.

So perhaps making breakfast first thing for your mom is a good idea?



* Getting Things Done
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 15,533
I like that, w~h.

I also really like your siggie.
wild~hair likes this.
Plans. I find a long term goal that I want to work towards, then I make a plan with achievable small steps that will lead to it.
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 15,533
So, the common denominator seems to be small steps leading to larger change.
wild~hair likes this.
Thanks ladies. I am going to sit down with my mother and discuss what the best move might be.

wild~hair: Thanks for taking the type to write such a long response to me. yeah, it definitely seems that small goals are the common factor.

I've never been really good at following through on short term goals.

I think I'm going to seriously consider where I want to go to grad school, since it's application season I have something small and immediate to focus on, and then I can drive myself crazy waiting to hear back, and then stress out about exams and whatnot

I also need to get my driver's license.

See, two things already

Dang, you guys are awesome.
wild~hair likes this.
I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
"
Another method: find a way to force accountability. There is an exercise motivation thread here because somehow it's easier to feel motivated when you think other people might call you on it. Or maybe because you just look forward to boasting about your accomplishment to someone. Solidarity is motivating as well -- "we're all in this together," like lml's "NO in November" thread.

Another way I do this is to come up with a deadline for myself. It doesn't even have to be a real deadline for it to work. Oddly!
Failure is not an option for me. I se other relatives who in my opinion lacked the drive or was too afraid to even try. I'm sure their lives are nothing like they wanted, but they seemed to just be content.

I dont want to be content, i want to be happy. I want to do want makes me happy, not want i have to do in order to survive. I dont want to survive i want to LIVE!!! Most of the people I know seems to be just surviving.

I know what i want adn i know its takes lots of hard work to get it, but i'm willing and able. Hell yeah i'm scared, but i'm more afraid of becoming content with just surviving. I want more, and by gosh i'm going to get it!!!
Passion.

If I don't care, it's not worth my time. Yes, there are the normal daily details I have to deal with anyway, but even when I'm doing boring paperwork at my job - there are still things I care deeply about doing and changing there, and it drives me to even do the boring stuff well.

Horses are my passion which I work my butt off for, but I am passionate about whatever I do. Negative motivations would do nothing for me - but goals and reaching for something motivate me.

To me, not even trying to do something is the biggest disappointment, because it's the biggest guarantee of failure. I want no regrets. I have yet to regret trying and failing at something, but it is easy to regret not trying at all.
The pews never miss a sermon but that doesn't get them one step closer to Heaven.
-Speckla

But at least the pews never attend yoga!
1. Remind myself of why I want it (for some opportunity or pay-off or reward etc. down the line, as well as what it can do for my family)

2. Remind myself of why I can do it (the gifts, talents, passions I have in the area and the things I have accomplished in the past)

3. Remind myself of why I have to do it (to support my family, and to honour family members who went before me and did not have these opportunities)

For me, motivation definitely comes from within and has always been there - I think it is a trait just as much as a sense of humour or lots of patience, but I also believe that it is possible to develop a trait if you want to. I like the idea of small goals - I definitely do that. I also use lists a lot - there's something really satisfying about crossing off things you have accomplished. And creating a sense of accountability will help, as already discussed.

I am all about rewards and payoffs - in the immediate future and looking ahead. So if there isn't a reward that motivates me, I create one for myself.

I also think that you need to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem to be motivated. People overlook that one. If you are down on yourself, and others are, it is difficult to convince yourself psychologically that working hard for something is worth it or that you can do it. You need to believe that you are smart and capable and you deserve good things in life and can get them. I sense kayb that this is an area where you are struggling at the moment, and it is probably the source of your troubles getting motivated. So you need to nurture yourself and somehow either get your family on board, tune them out or separate yourself from them.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











rainshower's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 6,000
What drives you?
Originally Posted by kayb
i've never been passionate about my work. i do it well, and my salary affords me a comfortable life. i'll never be wealthy from my work, and i don't want to be. i guess what drives me to get up and work everyday (a working ethic) is partly an inherent quality and partly the influence of what i've seen people around me do in my childhood who had created comfortable (not extravagant) lives for themselves. i knew that if i wanted that for myself, i'd likely also have to work everyday to help create it.

what i like most about my job is that i work for a family friendly company that gives me flexibility. and with two children who are still relatively young and needy, job flexibility is invaluable to me.

what drives me is what i do outside of work. i enjoy my family and friends, my leisure time, and my home. i don't want to take on the world. i don't want to burn my candle at both ends. i don't want to overwhelm myself with committments and goals and check lists. when i see people doing that, they seem to be more driven for the end result so that they can say that they accomplished things ... but didn't really experience them.

i just want to enjoy as much of life as i can.
LAwoman likes this.
"Dogs stink too, but I like dog stink." ~ rileyb
After reading Springy's post (a brilliant letter to motivation) and doing some deep thinking, I realised that I have lost all motivation. General background, I usually had something that drove me. In high school it was moving out of the house and out of this town. In uni it was because I was a first generation college student so I wanted to do my best. After graduation it was not coming back home- you get the idea.

Anyway, after coming back home and having my student visa denied, and not being able to get a job I have been feeling like my life does end here. I live in a rindy dink town (I am not exaggerating) where the entire town is made up of one way streets and all the young men sit on the street and smoke weed. It's getting really hard for me to believe that things are going to get better and that things will work out when I feel like I have nothing to drive me. It's like I used up all my passion and I can't find it anymore. I know it hasn't been that long, but (and I know some of you can relate) when you are employed each day just seems to drag on.

So, back to my original question. What drives you?
Originally Posted by kayb
Honestly, having the money to pay my bills and my mortgage, and having a little left over to have fun on the weekends and travel occasionally. In other words, enough $ to be "comfortabe."

I don't have any sort of "safety net" (parents are deceased, no "family money" and I'm not married). So you know, I gotsta do what I gotsta do!

It's not the "sexy" or popular answer, but it's the truth.
ninja dog likes this.
What drives you?
Originally Posted by kayb
i've never been passionate about my work. i do it well, and my salary affords me a comfortable life. i'll never be wealthy from my work, and i don't want to be. i guess what drives me to get up and work everyday (a working ethic) is partly an inherent quality and partly the influence of what i've seen people around me do in my childhood who had created comfortable (not extravagant) lives for themselves. i knew that if i wanted that for myself, i'd likely also have to work everyday to help create it.

what i like most about my job is that i work for a family friendly company that gives me flexibility. and with two children who are still relatively young and needy, job flexibility is invaluable to me.

what drives me is what i do outside of work. i enjoy my family and friends, my leisure time, and my home. i don't want to take on the world. i don't want to burn my candle at both ends. i don't want to overwhelm myself with committments and goals and check lists. when i see people doing that, they seem to be more driven for the end result so that they can say that they accomplished things ... but didn't really experience them.

i just want to enjoy as much of life as i can.
Originally Posted by rainshower
Serious question - how do you think someone can accomplish something but not experience it? Is the experience not the journey and the sacrifice in getting there and then the joy when you do?
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











All of the aforementioned items, but it is key to have the confidence to believe you can accomplish your goals and not give up on your dreams. I've seen so many very capable people be hindered by low self-esteem and discouragement.

What drives me personally when it comes to my career are:
1) passion
2) making a tangible difference in society
3) the fact that I am good at what I do
4) the benefits my work brings to me and the community I work with
Amneris likes this.
naturally 3b/3c

Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear, but love unexplained is clearer. ~ Rumi
@ Amneris: Re getting my family involved I am a bit hesitant about that. My mother has become really disillusioned about overseas schools, the application and visa processes. Applying for the U.K. really did a number on both of us and I guess she hasn't really let go of it. I was even supposed to do an online course with a U.K. university and she told me to forget about it. Two months later I am still trying to get back the deposit I paid to the university I was supposed to go to.

I guess she doesn't want to see me get my hopes up and have them dashed again.

It's not that some of the things that I was passionate about are not there anymore- have always been passionate about helping Haiti develop- it just feels like every route I've tried to get to my goal just ends in disappointment. I just don't know what I want anymore and I feel like the longer I take to figure it out the less likely it is that I'm going to achieve anything worthwhile.
I ain't thirsty. There's plenty of fish in the sea, but I don't want all of them, can I have some standards? Or do we just have to settle, for someone's who meh and will do.
"
@ Amneris: Re getting my family involved I am a bit hesitant about that. My mother has become really disillusioned about overseas schools, the application and visa processes. Applying for the U.K. really did a number on both of us and I guess she hasn't really let go of it. I was even supposed to do an online course with a U.K. university and she told me to forget about it. Two months later I am still trying to get back the deposit I paid to the university I was supposed to go to.

I guess she doesn't want to see me get my hopes up and have them dashed again.

It's not that some of the things that I was passionate about are not there anymore- have always been passionate about helping Haiti develop- it just feels like every route I've tried to get to my goal just ends in disappointment. I just don't know what I want anymore and I feel like the longer I take to figure it out the less likely it is that I'm going to achieve anything worthwhile.
Originally Posted by kayb
Sweetheart, I think that this is your problem, though. Your mother seems sooooo involved in everything (and I know this is a common Caribbean occurrence: mine is too) and I am suggesting you lessen her involvement. What you need now isn't someone keeping you from getting your hopes up - it is to think boldly and confidently, and how can you d that if they AREN'T up?

I would not take rejection from UK schools as the end of the story. Have you looked at Canada, US, Australia, UWI etc? Have you written the GRE? Funding IS available if that is the issue. Is there a part of your application that you can strengthen? Would a pre-master's/certificate help? Do you need more volunteering, better references, etc? You mention helping Haiti - so I take it you're interested in international work. How are your languages? Do you have French? Can you study those at home or on line or go abroad for a while? Can you get some articles published somewhere - even something in your local newspaper or online? This is where the "small steps" approach comes in - you need to figure out what, if anything, is holding you back and work on it little by little.

BTW, I too am passionate about helping Haiti and would love to work there for a while, so we have that in common! I know there are all kinds of programs and organizations looking for volunteers there, that I would have already done if not for the kids. You're just next door - can you just go for a month or two and see what you can do? You don't NEED grad school to do that, and it would show you if you want to continue in the field or not.
Get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me. -Muhammad Ali











rainshower's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 6,000
Serious question - how do you think someone can accomplish something but not experience it? Is the experience not the journey and the sacrifice in getting there and then the joy when you do?
Originally Posted by Amneris
of course, you experience something because it happened.

but i'm talking about experiencing something by being engaged in every aspect of it, relishing all of the characteristics/benefits/challenges of it, and that thing having a purposeful, and even, lasting affect on you after you've accomplished it.

sometimes when people create bucket lists, the importance of having checked off everything on that list overshadows having truly experienced the things on that list. so what's the point of being able to say that you did any of it, when you didn't really experience any of it?
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"Dogs stink too, but I like dog stink." ~ rileyb
I believe there are no right answers to what you should do--there's no right school to apply to, right career choice, right choice of where to live, etc. But there IS a wrong answer. And that's to do nothing.

Also, everything has to focus on yourself. It can't matter what your mother thinks, or what your friends want, or anyone else. ALL that can matter is what you want. And how you're going to get there. You are the only person in the world who can put you as the priority, so you need to do that.

Aside from those basic philosophies, I'm one of those people that's motivated by the basics of winning and being the best. I'm very "type A" in that regard. I'm getting my PhD, because if I had stopped at my master's degree I would have always felt second place. I also love the topic, but really, it's the feeling of being "the best" and having "the highest degree" that keeps me going when I want to give up. My last job had the department all take these personality tests that were really spot on-- one of my main messages was that I have ridiculously high expectations of myself, which are so unrealistically high that I'll never be able to meet them and will always feel like a failure. So I guess I'm motivated by trying to meet my own expectations.
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"I don't know! I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again!" -BART SIMPSON

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