Now that I knew my problem was a lack of motivation, I set forth trying to determine what would motivate me. Some people are motivated by “haters”; others are motivated by family. The one thing most of these forces have in common is that they are external forces. Well, I am not motivated by external forces. I didn’t grow up feeling the need to be successful in order to prove something to someone who didn’t believe in me. Nor did I feel pressure to be the future caretaker of the family. Consequently, I developed a highly independent nature, relying on research, deductive reasoning, and some common sense to influence my mindset.
The benefits of being highly independent are clear when it comes to problem solving. You learn how to become resourceful when in need of answers to puzzling questions. I began by asking my friends on social networks and in real life what motivates them. Popular responses included faith, a desire to succeed and bills. In Socratic fashion, I pursued further, unsatisfied with the responses. Every self help book, article, and quote about motivation gives those responses and still people get stuck in the mire of mediocrity. I needed to know what it was about having faith, a desire to succeed, or bills that spurred these people into action; and, not just action, but progression towards goals that they found intrinsically connected them to their inner being.
Far too many people are on paths defined for them. Maybe my Generation Y status gives me a proclivity for idealism, but I believe it necessary to a happy life. Essential to it is defining your own path that connects you to your own spirit. This is not about religion. Connecting to your spirit is about finding who you really are, what you really want to be, and developing a conviction to hurdle over any obstacle that enters your lane. Some people know this, though, and still can’t make the connection. Some people need to start at the beginning by analyzing themselves. If you don’t know what road you should be on, do the following:
- Ask yourself what brings a smile to your face
- Write it down
- Ask yourself what you find yourself talking about all the time
- Write it down
After you’ve done these things, you will see a pattern emerge. Somewhere in this list is your career. If you already know what you would do with the rest of your life but can’t get yourself motivated to do it, then you are in the position I was in not too long ago. After talking to people about their motivation and reading through multiple articles and quotations, I realized the secret to finding your motivation has nothing to do with you. Everyone who appears to have a special gift to succeed is only successful because they are motivated by their desire to be of service to others.
Cosmopolitan magazine, Sean Combs, and John Mayer all list multiple motivators. Cosmo suggests that the emotion of envy is an indicator of lack and desire. We become envious of what others have only when it is something that we desire in our own lives. This desire to have what others have is mistaken as a good motivator because it appears to be a catalyst for action. What if you feel undeserving of what others have but still want it? That feeling of being unworthy will kill any desire. In an interview with Playboy Magazine, John Mayer stated the following:
PLAYBOY: So you’ve lost the motivation of playing music to meet girls.
MAYER: If I was playing it so I could meet hot chicks, I’ve met hot chicks, quote unquote. If I was playing it to make a ton of money, I’ve made a ton of money. If I was playing it to be well-known, I am well-known. Once you put aside girls and money, it forces you to realign your motivation for being a musician. Now I’m not a have-not but a have. Which is interesting, because music has to come from a have-not sort of place. And there are many places where I have-not.
PLAYBOY: What motivates you now?
MAYER: My motivation is to prove people wrong, to confuse them. I enjoy the challenge—I must be addicted to the challenge. I’ve gone from being a musician to being a celebrity. And when people do that, their work usually suffers. There are tunes on Battle Studies that are more applicable to other people’s lives than anything I’ve ever written before. This whole time I’ve stayed vulnerable, stayed frustrated, stayed confused. This record is the trade-off to having sort of brutalized myself for a few years. So if people see that over the past couple of years I actually got a firmer grip on writing songs about the ups and downs of life, they might go, “How did he have the time to make a record? Was he writing ‘War of My Life’ in the middle of me thinking he was a douche bag? Did I ever actually know him? Maybe he’s a pretty solid guy.”
John Mayer started his career motivated by women and fame, but he has those now. Without those to serve as motivators, what keeps him interested in playing music? Somewhere in there is a desire for people to be less judgmental. I suggest John Mayer lose the motivation to prove people wrong and write music that allows him to reconnect with his true self – the good guy with the best intentions. Sean Combs has said that his mother served as his main inspiration to become the media mogul that he is today. I’d like to ask him what keeps him motivated now that he can provide everything for her.
I’ve come to realize where my motivation comes from, how I obtained it, and how I will keep it. My hope is that by reading this, you will develop your own realization. My goal is to help you get there from here.