Motivation.  For some this word has a daunting presence.  For others it is as much an issue as breathing, which is to say it’s not an issue.  Motivation is something that I think is often misconstrued into something more than it really is.  Many times the idea of motivation is given so much power that if a person doesn’t seem to have any they are deemed worthless by those around them and even sometimes themselves.  The go-getters and the accomplished are the ones considered to have motivation, and those who never seem to reach any level of greatness are often considered without it.  So where is the line drawn?  Who’s to say what motivation is and who has it?  If you don’t have it, what can you do other than fail? defines motivation as “desire to do, interest or drive, incentive or inducement”.  That seems pretty simple so why is motivation such a big deal?  I think the average person would tell you motivation is so much more than that, but few can really put it into words.  I spent some time recently asking people the question, “What does motivation mean to you and how would you define it?”  I was surprised that everyone I asked felt that having motivation was the key to everything, but very few of them could really tell me what motivation was.  I got simple answers like “It’s what makes you do something” and “It’s
your inner drive,” but answers like those are right in line with the simplistic meaning of the literal definition.  When provided answers I would continue to probe by asking why they felt motivation was so important and such a big deal when their definitions were so simple.  Everyone I asked could only tell me they were not sure, and all they knew was that motivation was the key to it all.

Motivation is the key to everything.  That is a huge statement and one that I think tends to put too much pressure on people and situations.  Motivation is a desire, an interest, a drive, and an incentive.  No matter how many times I retype it, it remains really simplistic, and I am left to wonder how the idea of motivation got to be such a big deal.  Beyond that I wonder how it became so
important that we as humans can’t seem to accomplish anything without it.

I have a tendency to think I am an under-motivated person, but when asked, the people around me will say that I might be the most motivated person they have ever met.  How does that happen?  Perhaps I am one of those people who have made the idea of motivation far more than it really should be.  If I have a day where I am not quite in the mood to run, lift, write, or do any of the many things I need to do then I feel as though I need more motivation to do them.  I also have days where the idea of getting a long hard run in gets me really amped up and excited, but I don’t really feel like doing it.  So am I motivated or
not?  Based on the definition I’m motivated, so why do I still not feel like doing something that is making me feel excitement?  It’s in these moments that I feel the disconnect between what motivation is and what we sometimes
perceive it to be.

I still get my training done, I write when I need to write, and I make myself accomplish what I want to accomplish whether I really feel like it or not.  Why?  Because I have to.  I have long since lived by the idea of dealing from the “have to” not the “want to”.  I’m not sure where it came from, but it has pushed me to accomplish and do more in my years than most would dream of.
The premise is simple in that there are two factors in life when it comes to getting things done.  There are the things you have to do and the things you want to do.  When you have to do something there is no option as to whether or not you get it done.
Maybe this is why I ran a half marathon with a fever while battling the flu.  The other end of the idea is that there are things you want to do, but that may be as far as it goes.  Just wanting to do something does not make it so important that you cannot deal with the idea of not getting it done.  I want to eat a perfectly clean diet, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying cheeseburgers.  I don’t have to eat that way so it’s not really that important to me.

The line between these two ideas is where I really place my actual motivations.  If I place something in the “have to” category then that’s all the motivation I really need.  I will go on those runs when I don’t want to because I do not have a choice: I have to do it.  The fact that I may not “feel” entirely motivated to do it doesn’t factor in much because it’s in the “have to,” and
that’s really what matters.  I want to be a runner, and I want to improve as a runner so the running has to be done.

Motivation is a nice thing, and I get a lot of it from reading books, magazines, and watching movies or documentaries about running, but motivation really doesn’t do that much in terms of getting the work done.  Whether I am motivated or not becomes irrelevant because the option of doing things was eliminated the minute I deemed accomplishment necessary.  Do I have to or just want to?  It’s a pretty simple question, and the answer determines my level of motivation.  The idea that I have to do something is apparently all the motivation I need even when I don’t actually feel it.

Maybe I am a motivated person after all.

Are you motivated?  Are your goals in life put in the “have to”?


2 responses »

  1. Nathan says:

    Hey, Jim. I know it’s been a while since I have shown face anywhere on the world-wide web, and, no, motivation has little to do with the matter, more like priorities. When your health is down, those seem to become more acutely apparent.

    Anywho, I have started a book on motivation that has some interesting insight. It’s called ‘Drive’ by Daniel Pink. I really enjoyed a previous title of his called ‘A Whole New Mind,’ so I imagine this one will continue to keep my interest. For a good intro to it check out this RSA Animate:


  2. MissZippy1 says:

    Truly I think motivation comes naturally when it relates to something you love. Don’t love it? You’re not really going to be chomping at the bit to do it. Love it? Not hard to find motivation. My two cents!

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