Motivation seems to be the theme of the week. It seems like every day this week, I have dealt with, heard or read about one issue after another regarding motivation.
I had a wonderful, motivating (there's that word again) talk with my girlfriend about her reasons for signing up for, and running in a 10k. Then, after a day of a complete and utter lack of any and all motivation, I decided to watch an episode of The Doctors, this TV show that I sometimes DVR about real doctors discussing real life medical issues. This particular issue also dealt with motivation on some level. What is it about motivation that really gets people going?
I had a conversation with a girlfriend who found the motivation to register for a 10k after not running for years. She said she was tired of watching other people do the one thing that she had once loved doing so much. She has a naturally competitive spirit so it was hard to find her motivation. From the day she set her mind to start running again to the time she ran her first 10k, was less than 2 months. Her motivation was internal. She wanted to feel good about herself again, she wanted to compete, and she wanted to get healthy.
Then earlier today, I had an episode of The Doctors that I have DVR'd playing in the background. They were discussing the motivation to lose weight and be fit. Their discussion revolved around why people can not lose weight and what they need to do to reach their goals. Each person was asked why they want to lose weight. Their answers didn't much matter as the feedback was the same...eat more whole foods, fewer fats and exercise more. But, the whole purpose was for them to understand why they wanted to lose the weight. The thought was that the right motivation would lead to success, regardless of what that motivation was. The bottom line was that the people questioned could not be motivated by anybody else (they couldn't be losing the weight for their spouse/partner, revenge, etc.) but they had to be motivated by themselves (health, personal happiness, improved confidence, etc.). If they had this internal motivation to lose weight, then they would be more likely to successfully lose the weight. Man...I should have been paying more attention to that episode, but that's another story for another day.
Now, I just had this long, 2-hour conversation with my brother about his life and what he is doing with it (not much) during which point he told me that he was thinking of joining the police academy. Now, most of you would probably say that this is great, especially in this day and age where jobs are scarce and crime is on the rise. But, let me just say that this is the same brother who I had a similar conversation with a few weeks ago when he, out of the blue, told me that he was going to join the military...AGAIN!!
Let me back up and give you some history. My brother is the baby of the family and all his life, he has been coddled...by my mom and his dad, by my husband and I, and even now, by his girlfriend. My brother (we'll just call him Bill), was a great kid growing up; he made straight A's and B's in school, was on the Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, and both the English and Spanish Junior League, in addition to playing football and basketball. In all respects, he was headed to college on a silver platter.
Then, sometime in his junior/senior year, he lost all motivation. Bill nearly flunked out of school, lost all desire to go to college. He became a slacker, drinking all the time and doing other intoxicating things that I will not divulge in this forum. He was living with me by this time and yes, I will admit, that in a lot of ways, I enabled him (read above...I have already wholeheartedly admitted to coddling the boy). He hopped from job to job with no real direction in life. He never kept any job long, either because he got bored and stopped going, he was too inebriated and stopped going, or he was sick because he refused to take care of himself properly, and stopped going. See the pattern here? Oh, he was fired from plenty of jobs, but mostly, he just stopped going. He couldn't find the motivation to find a "real" job, he couldn't find the motivation to stay in school (he completed a semester and then...you got it...he STOPPED going), and he certainly couldn't find the motivation to clean up his act and do right. Of course, after way too long (5 years) and way too many heartaches (countless), I had to kick him out. Cruel and unusual...maybe, but I like to call it tough love motivation.
That was over 2 years ago. Since then, he met a girl, rented a room in a house, worked at Cracker Barrel, moved to Delaware to live with my mom (with the girl), stopped working at Cracker Barrel, started working at Subway, got the girl pregnant, had a baby, stopped working at Subway, and got a job at Friendly's...all in this same time. So, now my 25 year old brother had a girl, a baby and a dead-end job. So, what does he do? He calls me for advice.
Back to my brother and his desire to join the Police Academy...like I said...a few weeks ago, it was the military. See, right after 9/11, when my brother was 18, he got all patriotic and decided that he was going to join the army and go off to war "to fight for his country". Now, I am all for patriotic symbolism, but I do not think we all need to rush out and join the military and for my brother...that was the last thing he needed to do. He just doesn't have it in him. Anyway, I was right...he didn't even make it through basic training. Now, I don't know the whole story but it was something about not listening and failing to respect the commanding officers. Needless to say, he was "less than honorably" discharged...whatever that means.
So...fast forward to a few weeks ago… He calls me (not long before the baby is born) and is going on and on about how he doesn't know how he is going to support his son and how his job isn't paying him enough and how he wishes he had stayed in school...blah, blah, blah...nothing I hadn't heard a million times before. So, he proceeds to tell me that he is going to try to join the military again...this time the Air Force but he is afraid they will not accept him because of this Army record. I tell him the best he can do is try and that he needs to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Our conversation goes like that for probably over an hour before I was able to get off the phone.
So, fast forward again to this week… My brother's baby was born a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, my nephew was born prematurely and is still in the hospital. My brother is complaining about how hard it is and how he has to drive two hours to go and see the baby (they live in a very rural area of DE), and how the commute is killing him. He then proceeds to tell me that he thinks he is going to try out for the police academy. I told him I thought it was a great idea (honestly, I thought it sucked, but I wasn't going to derail him from pursuing SOMETHING to do with his life). He constantly asks me if I think he should go for it and if I think it's a good idea and so on and so forth. So, this is what I tell him...
I tell him that I can't make that decision for him, that he needs to figure out what he wants to do in life and that only he can find the motivation that he needs to succeed in life. He proceeds to tell me that he is really not that motivated but knows that he needs to do something so that he can take care of his family. I go on to explain to him that there are different things that motivate us and that what motivates one person is not necessarily going to motivate the next. For instance, some people are motivated by success, some by fame, and some just are motivated by their internal feeling of self-worth. Some people are motivated by external forces...family, money, etc. I told my brother that his son is a strong motivating factor and that he can certainly be motivated to do what he needs to do because of his son. But, I told him that he needs to determine what that motivating factor was and then he needed to act on it.
See, basically, we can all TALK about what we want out of life, what we are going to do, what we are going to accomplish, how we are going to accomplish it, and what our dreams look like. But, it is up to us to set these plans in motion. It is often fun to plan, but normally not fun to actually do. Anatole France once said, "To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act." We are all good at dreaming, in fact, we often do it without even trying. But acting takes work and it is often an uphill battle to be successful. True innovators...those that are really successful at what they have set out to accomplish, had to fight to get to where they are today. Oscar Wilde once said, "Anything worth doing is worth fighting for." I explained to my brother that nothing in life worth doing comes easy and that he would need to fight for what he wanted. I don't know if he took my advice. The last I heard, he is still working at Friendly's and hasn't even inquired at the police academy, but I have come to learn that it is his life. I can give him all the tools and advice in the world, but only he can take that information and do something with it. I liken it to a drug addict or alcoholic...you can provide them with the tools (in the way of support groups, rehab, and the like) and you can beg, plead, reason, and persuade until you are blue in the face, but it is only when the addict finds their own motivating factor will they change their ways and come clean.
We all have something that motivates us. Find out what motivates you...