Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Motivation

Motivation is the key to things getting done.  Or is it enthusiasm? 

Things can get done with no enthusiasm at all, but motivation?  When you don't have it, things usually don't get done.  Motivation is what keeps your bills paid on time, laundered clothing in drawers, it keeps friendships alive and hobbies current.  It is the freshly scrubbed sister to that pig-pen: Procrastination.  And of those two, everyone has their favorite child.  Mine personally depends on what day it is.

I love you, tree

Motivation takes many forms, often a simple matter of penalty-avoidance.  All of the old growth trees on our block have nearly finished dumping their colorful armloads, and we noticed suddenly that we were practically the last house on the block to rake off the crunchy mess. 

Motivation :  Negative-Neighbor-Cred Avoidance

Enthusiasm:  Doggie Has It

Sunday at the homestead, we raked up five giant bags of leaves.  From the front yard.  And we ran out of bags, so we mowed up the rest.  The back yard?  Please.  

Spirit Of Teamwork :  Doggie Totally Thinks We are Playing with Him

I also worked in the garden, and managed to retrieve Max, who had somehow escaped into the outdoors, panicked, hidden underneath the deck, and refused to come out.  I did all the laundry, put it away, picked up our den of slobbery bedroom.  I hemmed a pair of pants.  I realized I hemmed the second leg inside out, tore out the stiching while bitterly complaining, and re-hemmed the second leg.   

This all rode in to O-Town on the coattails of motivation to do one task: yardwork.  I think for most people, motivation is something that expands within pre-set boundaries.  Something like achievement set to yardsticks.  Maybe I'm weird that way, because I hadn't intended to hem or straighten that day, and yet I was being productive anyway.  I was super-unenthusiastic about hemming pantlegs, and yet I was motivated to do it.  I seemed to be thinking, I may as well just ride out the productivity.  And its funny how motivation can be like that.  Also procrastination, now that I think about it. 

I've been dealing with motivation and enthusiasm in other aspects of my life.  Enthusiasm is like water, it's eager to fill any space you give it.  It pours into cracks and breaks apart stone (-ey faced apathy).  Whereas enthusiastic people aren't always helpful, at least enthusiasm can be catching.  Their enthusiasm might jumpstart your enthusiasm.  But if helpful people aren't enthusiastic, you might not get anything out of them, or worse, they may suck your enthusiasm dry.  This is where I was for awhile. 

When I really decide I want something or want to do something-- while capable of taking constructive criticisms-- if my reasoning is sound, generally it gets done.  When I decided to go live in Japan when I was 18, I pretended to ask my parents but when they said no I told them I was going anyway.  Not in a cheeky way, but my mind had been made up.  Ask D.  Recently, I was motivated to affect a change.  Nothing altruistic or anything, I'm not changing the world.  Just accomplishing certain of my goals by way of establishing a project.  A small thing, but nonetheless a project I strongly believe to be a worthwhile endeavor.  But my enthusiasm got rubbed off when my thoughts and efforts were met with negativity.  Not objection really, more like cynical apathy.  And even though people weren't actively standing in my way, with every piece of cynical feedback, I felt more of my enthusiasm drain away. It felt like they were counting off reasons that they expected me to fail.  I kept at it.  Like I said, worthwhile endeavor and all that.  But my enthusiasm had dried up.  

On the flip side, D and I recently learned that on the precise weekend of the RunForYourLives 5k, we will be going to a wedding.  As you know, that had been the impetus to my couch-to-5k aspirations.  My motivation gone, my enthusiasm crashed into the basement, and I haven't run for over two weeks.  What for?  I had gotten a group of our friends excited about it, and we were all going to look for excuses to train together.  Go rock climbing at an indoor wall, etc.  Chase eachother through an open field like dogs and bunnies.  Or, you know, zombies and survivors.  And it was not idle talk.  I had paid.      

It's funny, but I couldn't tell you why the motivation stayed when the enthusiasm didn't.  Or, in the other case, why the enthusiasm to train didn't stick around when the motivation vanished.  D is trying to sell me on trying to transfer our entry fees to a different race on a different day.  Not so sure about that.  I could use the exercise, its true.  And I liked how I felt after a morning run.  (not how I felt trying to get out of bed early enought to do a morning run, though)  But running as its own goal?  ehhhh....

And the project?  We're midstream now, and I've sold some aspect to people who support it.  I'm trying to lead by example (not that being a leader is my goal).  I got some attention though, and more people are talking about steps and changes.  Well, its too soon to tell.  And, for whatever reason, enthusiasm is slowly returning.  Maybe its something to do with the saying, "whatever is worth doing is worth doing well."  Or something hideously more cliche, "be part of the solution."  I guess what has come about (without my consciously knowing about it), is that I have been evaluating what it is that I have a stake in and then owning that.  Now I'm at the part where I make things happen. 

"You must be the change that you want to see"  Ghandi

So... yeah.  That's what's been on my mind.

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