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28th November 2014

Thoughts: Motivation

This is a blog post all about taking life by the teats and milking it.


Conceptually, we’re all fully aware as to what motivation is. We’re taught a basic definition from a juvenile age: Motivation is the reason for acting or behaving in a particular way. However simply knowing what motivation is proves very different to actually understanding it. Is it somewhat ironic that it took me three days to acquire the motivation to write this blog post? Perhaps.


The truth of the matter is that motivation means something entirely different to each individual and their predicament. Circumstance is a massively contributing factor as to how one might be motivated; sometimes the mere desire to do something isn’t quite enough.


Some people require extrinsic motivation, occurring when we participate in order to gain reward or to avoid punishment. This includes studying with the aspiration of achieving high grades or tidying a bedroom to avoid being reprimanded by parental figures. This can be beneficial on a short-term basis, though this probably won’t be advantageous in the distant future. For example, what will motivate you to make your bed once you live alone and parental admonishment is no longer tangible? Don’t place all of your eggs in this one basket.


Alternatively, we also have intrinsic motivation to explore. This is the undertaking of an activity without external incentive; personal satisfaction derived through self-initiated achievement. Examples of this include completing a puzzle because it is enjoyable, or participating in a sporting activity for the love of the game, regardless of any potential reward. Your desire or passion for something must come from within – hugely advantageous, albeit difficult to attain. It will take a long time to truly develop intrinsic motivation, though once obtained it is long-lasting and sustainable.


To put this into context, my reasons for creating a blog were simply intrinsic by my passion for writing. Meanwhile I revised for my maths exams in hope of achieving an A grade – the reward for my effort. I have absolutely no interest in mathematics, yet the appealing reward got me through hours of intensive studying. Exam revision will be far easier for subjects you are passionate about, but finding a middle ground between intrinsic and extrinsic can be the perfect formula for success.


The ultimate difference between achieving and lacking motivation is eventual success. Sometimes your brain needs a friendly reminder that actually you can do it. This is often more than just Google-ing ‘motivational quotes’ – the playground of cheese and contradiction. I find that deadlines are essential in the completion of mundane tasks. Give me a task with no deadline and I’ll lackadaisically avoid it, because there is no need to actually do it.  I’m not condoning that mind-set – it’s a slippery surface above a tall precipice – but it’s just how my own head works.


I do still find it vital to surround myself with positivity. Motivating your friends will in turn motivate you too (and vice versa), thus gaining mutual achievement. Aim to avoid negativity and cranky people - you are an energetic three-legged pug with no boundaries and they are an invisible fence; they’ll remain feeling exactly the same and you’ll just end up with two legs and trust issues. That wasn’t really an inspiring analogy but we’ll go with it anyway.


I’d like to quickly clarify that I’m not writing this post as an advice column, rather an exploration of what motivation means. I am by no means an expert in motivation, nor will I ever claim to be. In all honesty, I still haven’t completed the Spanish homework set four weeks ago and due in tomorrow.


Just keep telling yourself that anything is achievable when you put your mind to it – motivation is taking the first step on a thousand mile journey. ‘Later’ will often become ‘never’, so do something today that your future self will thank you for. I definitely spent far too long on that ‘motivational quotes’ Google search, I’m so sorry. Basically what I’m trying to say is that you can and will achieve once motivation is discovered, whether that be losing weight, getting good grades, seeking a job promotion or anything and everything in between.


You’ve probably heard this story before, but I’ll recite it anyway. A man visits a top CEO of a company. Taking his courage in both hands, he tells the man “I want success, tell me how to achieve it”. The CEO, nonchalantly circumventing the question, responds with an invitation to meet him at the local beach the following morning. Not one to dispute, the man abides to this inane proposition, arriving at the seaside and finding the CEO there. He is told to wade into the sea water. Feeling slightly beguiled by the enigmatic request, the man does as is asked. The elitist CEO continues calling to move further, catching up to the man, until they are both shoulder-deep. Suddenly, the man is thrust under water, helpless to the grip of the debauched CEO. He fights for breath, yet to no avail. His whole body demands oxygen. Just as he begins to feel himself slipping to unconsciousness, he is set free and gasps for air.


“Now you understand,” grins the (sadist) CEO, “that is what motivation is. You needed air. You fought for the air in that moment. You need to demand success, just as your body demanded the oxygen. Breathing was all you wanted to do, and nothing else. That is how you must see success”. I imagine the man probably thought something along the lines of “what a prick”, but you get the point.


Unfortunately in life there is never an elevator to success; you just have to use the stairs. Take that to the bank and deposit it in the fun account.


Don't forget that you can still vote for me in the UK Blog Awards here - I really appreciate your kind votes and it means the world to even be nominated. Have a lovely day and until next time, goodbye!

By Jack Edwards

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