Column: Motivate Yourself

As we enter into February a lot of us have settled back into what passes for normal in our lives. The hype of the holiday season is long gone and so is the newness of this year. Not that the year is all that old, mind you, but by now it sure doesn’t feel very new either.

So we are back in the grind once again and perhaps you are finding yourself in need of some motivation? That’s what I want to talk about in this month’s column. Because, like most things when it comes to motivation, I’m a firm believer that one size does not fit all.

Not that you’d know that by all the motivation-speak you here around us today. It all sounds pretty much the same, if you ask me. What most motivational speakers say and what I see all the time on those often annoying memes on social media are, at best, variations on a theme. At worst I’d say there’s plenty of plagiarism going on around here. But then what else would you expect from the internet right?

Most of today’s motivational-speak is what I like to call “happy talk.” It’s all about how great you are, that you can do anything (even though that is demonstrably and completely false), you are super special, etc. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Obviously this kind of thing motivates a lot of people or we wouldn’t be seeing so much of it. If you are motivated by it then great for you. If you’ve found your motivation then use it for good in your life and more power to you.

But it doesn’t motivate some of us. Yes, the weirdos, those who skulk in the shadows of our societal, positive-everything, binge mentality – you know, people like me – will at times be okay with this but for the most part we just aren’t buying it. The only kind of motivation this stuff usually gives me is major motivation to hurl.

So if this leaves you cold, what should you do? You’ve got to recognize that everyone isn’t motivated in the same way and find (or make) your own motivation.

I remember something that happened to me in grade school that taught me this. Now I went to school a long time ago – in the sixties if you can believe that! I was in the seventh or eighth grade when we were being timed in the 50 dash in PE. See this picture of what I looked like back then. Wasn’t I cute? I know, you are wondering what happened to me, right?

Now, I’m no great athlete and neither was my buddy. He challenged me and said he was going to do better than me by thinking positively. This might have been the first time I’d heard this phrase used and I was intrigued by his idea. He said he was going to run the whole way saying to himself, “I’m going to get a 1 (my school graded from 1 to 5 with 1 being the best like an A), I’m going to get a 1!” He assured me that this was the way to win.

So when his turn came, he dashed off and did quite well. Next it was my turn. I couldn’t believe that by merely saying I would do well that I actually would do well. As I thought about I realized that wasn’t going to work for me. So I decided I was going to do the exact opposite of what he did if for no other reason than to spite him! Yeah, I may have been cute but I was also plenty ornery.

I thought about flunking and getting a five. How horrible would that be? The jocks would laugh at me. It would be horrible! The coach said, “Go!” and off I went running as fast as I could. All the while saying to myself, “I’m going to get a 5, I’m going to get a 5!”

I could feel my anger and determination to deny this rising within as I ran. I did quite well in terms of how I usually ran. But, even better, I beat my friend’s time! I told him and gloated over the birth of a new motivation for myself – the power of negative thinking!

Yes, it was pretty much a stillbirth as I was the only person I knew who found that at all motivating. But it worked for me back then. I deliberately used it on many occasions and found it very motivating. By the way, in case you’re wondering, I don’t do that anymore.

But it did work and that’s the point. Not only is motivation not one size fits all, like most clothing it’s very seasonable. What motivates me when I’m young probably won’t motivate me when I’m older. That’s as it should be, because hopefully I’m more mature and a bit wiser now than I was when I was in eighth grade.

To be honest, I’m sure you could find more than a few people who would argue the whole maturity thing when it comes to me! But I’m sure that’s not the case with you.

So, look around and be creative when it comes to what motivates you. You might be surprised what works for you. It’s not just a good way to get motivated but it’s also a good way to learn a little bit more about yourself.

If you are sagging and dragging, give it a try and see if new and better motivations don’t make your life a bit new and better as well.

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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.

One comment

  1. Phyllis C. Burgess


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