Motivation is hard for some people. Some folks struggle to get out of bed in the morning let alone get their kids to daycare, go to work, work through their lunch-break in order to meet with a tough client, pick the kids up on the way home, arrive and play interference between screaming children while making supper, bathe the kids and get them to bed, wash the dishes after they’re asleep, etc, repeat that five times a week and spend the other two days meeting different obligations. Some people do that, you know. Now maybe it’s because I’ve spent the majority of my life as a child, but that blows me away.
The truth is that we all suffer from lack of motivation in some form or another and at one time or another. Recently I’ve come to think of motivation in a new way—not because I’m one of these depressed people who can’t get anything done and desperately need to; rather because like any average human, I have had some periods of intense motivation while working on my passions and at other times, almost non-existent motivation. Sometimes I can grab the guitar and sing for two hours straight (in the rare event I have two hours to spare), and other times I can have the whole house to myself and do nothing but catch up on The Daily Show and read movie news from IMDB. Sometimes I feel called to write, compelled to write, but so damn mentally exhausted from work that I can’t even muster the motivation to decide what to write. Sometimes I have three great weeks of writing everyday, and sometimes I go for a whole month without putting a single word to paper. It can make a man feel downright downtrodden.
I’m sure you’ve felt the same way before. There are things you want to do, sometimes even things you feel compelled to do, and you do nothing but waste time. You procrastinate, and inside you feel guilty for it, but you procrastinate anyway, and at end the day you feel like the only achievement you made is the fact that you’re in bed then instead of another two hours later.
You start again and repeat the non-accomplishing of important tasks, goals, and dreams. You feel the days gnawing at you like you were a stick of meat. Soon you will go to sleep, the days will have sped to the point where you do not notice them anymore, you will not notice the non-accomplishing of things, and you wake up old and full of regrets. At least sometimes you feel like that will happen to you if you continue on the path you are on.
So you change it up. You put the boxing gloves on once again and slap the old bag around for ten minutes. You do that on Monday, then Wednesday, then again on Friday but on Friday you don’t stop there, you dust the weights off and do a few reps too. You take the time to call that friend you’ve been meaning to call for the last two months later that night. The motivation cycle spins in your favour. For a while. Three months from now you will be back to sitting on the couch watching movie trailers on YouTube for ninety minutes in a row.
This rhythm is as human as the pulsing of blood through our veins. You show me somebody who gets up every single morning of their lives with the same feeling of intense motivation and I’ll show you somebody with a serious brain issue. We the people are never consistent with motivation, we flow in and out of it like water. We absorb it like a plant some days and on others we repel it. It is human.
So this brings me to my moment of revelation. Too see this ebb and flow of motivation was to see something else. It was to see a pattern I had seen before.
This was the pattern of love.
Any lover knows that true love is much more than an emotion. Romeo and Juliet may get swept away in adolescent emotions and kill themselves because of it, but real love isn’t selfish like that. Real love isn’t so selfish as to say that all life is meaningless without the other, real love is self-less enough to see that to be loved is to have a responsibility to be strong. To love someone is to give your life to them, but not every moment has the emotion behind this decision. There are mornings you wake up and feel nothing. There are mornings where choosing to help your beloved is as hard as choosing to put those boxing gloves on once again. Love is a battlefield and the enemies come from within.
And don’t even think of lovers in the traditional sense, think of how a parent might love their child. Imagine a father who someday may need to grant his baby girl a blessing to marry a young man. To know your daughter has a profound intimacy with another man can be hard for a father. Now, love as a father is intrinsically different from the love of lovers to be wed, that goes without saying. But for the father to stand there and welcome some young man into his family, it can be one of the hardest things he ever has to do. But though it is hard to do, the good father knows that if he really loves his daughter, he will let her go. And so he does, through stifled tears and and a trembling lip. He loves his daughter and so he chooses to bless her marriage. In doing so the two will enter a new season of love as father and daughter.
And so I circle back to motivation. It has been helpful to me to see motivation now as I see love, for the two really are similar. Just as emotion should only have so much say in what you decide to do as a lover, the feeling of motivation should only have so much say in determining whether or not you accomplish the tasks before you. You may not feel like getting up early and helping your wife get the kids out the door, but when you do it, you do it out of love. You may not feel like blessing your daughter’s marriage, but when you do it, you decide to do it out of love. So it is with motivation in general.
Do not depend on motivation to get you out the door. As humans that motivation will come and go. When it’s there, enjoy it. When it isn’t, it’s best to just get out the door anyway. You alone have that power to choose. You alone have the sheer force of freewill to fortify your life.