Motivation and the Human Spirit
Even highly motivated people can still struggle with procrastination, but procrastination can be overcome by simply being disciplined, which makes it somewhat of a superficial affliction.
Motivation is something that affects us on a deeper level. While we often think of motivation as the thing that steers our pursuit of personal dreams or career goals, we rarely acknowledge that levels of motivation are a reflection of our human spirit and its degree of health.
Because motivation is so closely related to our fundamental human spirit there aren’t quick fixes that will boost your motivation when it’s running low. Motivation is something that can only be maintained or improved through disciplined and intentional living.
You can start living and working intentionally by getting clear on your purpose. I’ve created a free worksheet that will help you to establish priorities for both your life and your career. It will also walk you through the process of writing a professional mission statement you can refer to when making difficult career decisions. [Click Here For Instant Access]
Maintaining healthy levels of motivation isn’t all that different from how a person would subscribe to a fitness regimen and diet in order to maintain or improve their physical health. When it comes to wavering motivation, the fix is tending the health of your human spirit.
When it comes to chasing down long-term personal or professional ambitions it is always helpful to have a plan of action. With a systematic approach to anything however, there are bound to be repetitive tasks or a tedious list of to-do’s that needs to be endured.
If you don’t already have an action plan for accomplishing your goals, this free worksheet I’ve created will guide you through setting SMART goals and an action plan that will ensure your future career success. [Click Here For Free Download]
With the greatest of your progress sure to come from close attention to the smallest details, it is important that you don’t allow the tedious nature of tending to them to inspire procrastination. It would be your undoing. As unexciting as it is, the smallest of details need to be addressed and the tedious tasks need to be done in order to move you toward your end goal.
Community Fosters Motivation
Being intentional in your relationships with other people is just one way you can maintain the health of your human spirit and levels of motivation. Seeking out and nurturing healthy relationships with others is important because that sense of community helps to keep you accountable, it puts learning opportunities within reach, and it allows you to better the lives of others.
Each of these rewards is a great motivator on its own, but when you have all three you will never be in need of additional motivation.
Go To Church
When I say go to Church I’m not saying you need to practice a particular religion to stay motivated. What I am saying is that just like people who practice a particular faith, getting plugged into a community of like-minded people can help you stay grounded and on course until arriving at your predetermined destination.
When I decided I was going to pay off my student debt because it was something that was holding me back from bigger and better things, I knew that there weren’t many people in my inner circle who saw debt as a detriment. Most of my friends and even some of my family members saw debt as a normal part of life. The idea of living a minimalist lifestyle in order to pay off a loan 15 years ahead of schedule was silly to them.
It became very apparent to me that I wasn’t going to get much helpful advice or encouragement from my friends and loved ones, not because they aren’t great people, but because they didn’t see the world as I did. They weren’t sold on the same mission as I was.
As I started to educate myself on how I could better my financial situation I stumbled on to different communities based around the common goals of financial independence and debt-free living.
In time, the personal success stories of people who had been in my shoes and achieved their goal of being debt-free became more than just practical advice on how to get where I wanted to go. These stories fueled me and inspired me to pay off my debt even faster.
Through the communities built around Dave Ramsey, Deacon Hayes’ blog, Well Kept Wallet, and others, I found stories of success affirming that the goals I had set for myself were achievable. Better yet, these communities kept me steadfast in the belief that what I was doing was worthwhile.
Going to Church through Media
On my journey to pay of my student debt I found community through media. I was connected to like-minded and insightful people through radio programming, podcast, blogs, books, and social media.
While we often think of some of these media channels to be purely one directional, podcasts and blogs allow for comments, radio shows allow people to call in, and social media is meant to be social. If you truly seek the benefits of community in pursuing your goals and staying motivated, today’s technology gives everyone an outlet to do just that.
For people whose goals lie in a very niche area, media and technology can help you get out of what might be a negative group-think environment of your current circle. By connecting with people across the county or across the globe you can get the moral and practical support you need to stay motivated and stay on track.
If you are surrounded by people on a daily basis who haven’t accomplished what you want to accomplish, or simply don’t want to, it can be easy to slip into a mind-set that makes your goals seem unattainable.
Jim Rohn is famous for having said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and I think my experience speaks to that wisdom. When I was surrounded only by people with car payments and student loans, my debt seemed normal.
At the point when I decided to do something about being in debt myself, my progress was slow until I started to surround myself with the influence of like-minded people; people that were disgusted by the thought of being in debt themselves. It wasn’t until I plugged myself into these communities through different forms of media that my financial literacy sky rocketed and my progress in paying off my debt became measurable.
Going to Church in the Flesh
I’ve always been a proponent of getting out into the world and mixing with people who know more than me.
Professionally, there are all kinds of organizations that make good outlets for that. Industry specific organization that put an emphasis on learning and best practices, over just networking, have always interested me more. These settings give the folks that you want to connect with and learn from the forum to demonstrate and share their professional mastery. This is often done through panel discussions or presentations as part of the organization’s programming.
In an organization or happy-hour event that has been established purely for the purpose of networking, exchanges that promote professional development can sometimes be over shadowed by small talk.
Mastermind groups are another way to establish a sense of community in-person. Sometimes they are facilitated through telecommunications (conference calls, Skype, Google hangouts, ect.), but typically they are still more intimate than a media based community.
If you’re interested in learning more about what a mastermind is or how you might start and structure your own I suggest listening to the episode of Mitch Mathews’ Dream. Think. Do. Podcast entitled, Masterminds, Juntos, and the Fine Art of Not Going it Alone.
Don’t be a Superchicken
Being a part of a community is great for the health of your human spirit and fostering high levels of motivation over time, but only if you truly participate in the community.
In her TED Talk, Why it’s Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work, Margaret Heffernan uses a study by William Muir of Purdue University to illustrate that cooperative communities will typically outperform the ability of ultra-productive individuals, or teams comprised of ultra-productive individuals.
In her presentation, Heffernan refers to Muir’s study of the productivity among chickens as measured by eggs produced over six generations.
Muir’s study examined the differences in egg laying productivity between two flocks of chickens. The control group was a typical flock of chickens that were left to do what chickens do over 6 generations. The second group was comprised of chickens that regularly produced an above average number of eggs; you could call these superchickens.
Over the course of the experiment Muir would select among the group of superchicken, only the most productive for breeding.
Six generations later, the first flock had significantly increased their egg production and the chickens themselves were fully feathered and otherwise healthy. Meanwhile, the flock of superchickens had dwindled to only three surviving birds. The remaining chickens had survived by pecking the others to death.
As it turned out the superchickens were only capable of producing more eggs at the expense of other chickens in their flock. When placed in an ultra-competitive flock on which competitiveness was heightened through breeding, competition lead to the demise of the flock.
Similarly, you will benefit less from the communities you plug into if you only take from the group and never give back. You could even contribute to its demise by operating at the expense of other community members. You’ll burn bridges as you go by doing this and you’re likely to find yourself in a situation with no community to foster the long-term motivation needed to propel yourself forward.