Motivation or Connection
One of the strength activities at my local gym is to push a large box around the running/walking track, which strikes me as one of the most ridiculous and detrimental activities to promote a vision of enthusiastic health nuts. But it brought to mind the question of what it takes to motivate: a push or a pull.
I wonder, would I rather push a box up a hill (or around a track, as the case may be…no pun intended) or pull a box up a hill? Both of these images make me think of how many times I have heard or thought about my lack of motivation to do X or Y. Is it really the push of motivation that I was lacking. Is it really motivation we are talking about or is there something else behind that? What if it’s our connection to the outcomes of an action? What if we feel unmotivated when we lack an appropriate or meaningful connection to the results? What if motivation comes from the pull of the desired results?
Motivation seems so disconnected to me; like it is somebody else’s job to motivate. Moreover that the feeling of motivation is different from the results. So, I’m going to flip motivation on it’s head. First, I need to call it my responsibility, not someone else’s. No one is coming to fix me; I am the patient AND the doctor. Second, I need to connect to my results. What results matter to me? Focus on those, the proverbial end, if you will…and not the beginning, the fact that you are or are not motivated.
The challenge, however, is that asking myself what results matter to me is the tougher question and yet, it’s the “real” question. If I am stuck on my motivation for running versus my motivation for lounging on the couch with the cat, then I am avoiding the results I want. Every morning I think, “Gee, I am over a certain age where my metabolism is not as invisible a player in my life…where did this roll or aching joint come from?” What result would I prefer. Fewer rolls and no joint pain. Flexibility and a good night’s sleep. Sounds all too simple, right? Why, then, do I say, “I just don’t feel like running”? Why do I bring work home but claim not be motivated to look at it? Simple, it’s easier to be unmotivated than to identify what results are important to us. That clarity takes time and focused effort. It requires us to examine who we are, who we desire to be and who will get us there. Ourselves.
So, I am hiring myself to identify my desired results. Once I have my desired results figured out, I am going to retrain my own behaviour. If my results are important enough, desirable, meaningful and of value to me, I am more likely to feel like doing what it takes to get me there, to be pulled by the desired results. It’s not a very complex solution, I know. But why does it have to be? It’s simple behavior replacement: if the results are reinforcing, the participant will be pulled into the action more often and with greater ease. And, I will apologize in advance that my partner’s applause when I finish a run (or a blog), does not cut it for me. I am off to figure out what results in my life are valuable to me and unpack backwards to the actions that will draw me towards them…gotta run!
Kelly Johnson, PCC Executive Coach