Like most things in this universe, motivation is never constant. It took me far too many years to truly understand just how cyclical the world we live in is. Sure, with age, experience, education and hindsight it may seem obvious. But I spent years engulfed in self criticism born from the ignorant expectancy of 24 hour day cycles.
Why does the sun go down?
Can’t we have summer forever?
Why did Granddad have to die?
Why did my best friend move away?
Can’t I be 17 for life?
I’ve stubbornly come to realise that you cannot have these apparently beautiful life experiences without darkness…….without breakdown……….without some sorrow.
It’s a cycle of life. How you approach these occurrences dictates who you become. These instances are nearly always an ignition switch to self-betterment and improvement. They take a chunk out of you in order to make you rebuild your character that little bit better, so that you’re worthy of more joy; more pleasure, more happiness.
Of course, not every time you experience the sharp end of a cycle will you come out on top. Sometimes you’ll lose. Sometimes it may take years for the masked positivity to become visible. Sometimes you may not even make the connection between a former fall and a future victory, but if you look hard enough, very rarely are they not connected someway, somehow.
Where motivation comes in
Motivation is derived from different things for different people. Love is one of the most powerful reasons for motivation. If you won’t do it for love, what will you do it for? Why endure torment tainted with many lows if you’re not in love with what you’re doing? Emotion is short term. Love is long term. The lows will pass. Love doesn’t evaporate so easily.
The longer you spend doing something, or being with someone, the more these cycles of nature come into play. There are times when you’ll question whether your future really lies with your current spouse. There are times when you’ll question your career path. There are times when you’ll wonder why you’re doing something that seems (in the present moment) completely reward-less.
The 2 saving graces
There’s 2 things I do when my own motivation plummets. And they are tests in and of themselves………
1) Walk away
Otherwise known as ‘taking a break’. How long is up to you, usually though, you’ll find your mind and soul will let you know when, or if, to return. Whenever I’ve taken a step back in the past from anything – be it exercise or even sports and projects, it’s not taken me long at all to reset my focus, find my motivation once again and come back fresher than ever before.
The time for relapse varies massively from person to person and situation to situation, of course. If we’re talking lifting/working out/training/anything and everything gym, I’ve known people who’ve spent years loving training, only to find themselves out of the gym for months on end. Very rarely though, do they not return.
What causes one to want to take time away from something they had such adoration for is usually of a negative origin. Disappointment, lack of desired results and too much repetition all conspire to leave you second guessing your part in the game. In my eyes you have a choice to make: Do you tell yourself you’re done or do you accept the cyclical nature of our world and realise that this is all merely a test to strengthen your love for something; your purpose?
2) Ask yourself why you started and what you’ve gained as a result of your journey thus far
This is like flicking a perception switch. It will immediately reprogram your thinking from seeing things in terms of what’s missing, to what you have. What has the gym given you? What has it brought into your life? What would you not have had, had you not stepped foot in initially? Get deep here. Really try to spot all the connections. Notice all the spiral effects at play. Avoid abstractly identifying only visual/physical additions, paint the full picture – it will look glorious.
Why did I do this in the first place?
Everyone’s ‘why’ will be different. Some will take their first step in order to acquire something; some will step forwards out of intrigue……some will begin out of recommendation. Whatever the case, it’s important to reaffirm and behold the very reason you started. Doing this will extract all the bullshit such as peer pressure, conformism and boredom that we all get blinded by at times. It should cut right down to the core and give you a purer meaning for doing something.
It’s not easy to do this though, and more often than not, these 2 go hand in hand. When you take time away and return eventually, you’ll find all self-imposed expectations are gone. How can you be amazing at something you’ve had no involvement in? To expect so would be ignorant and naive. And here’s the really great thing…….when expectations are washed away there becomes room for fun and enjoyment in their rawest forms.
Fun and enjoyment are rare feelings these days. I really think that’s one of the reasons we all harp on about how good it is to be a child. When you’re a child, there’s no expectation – or very little. As we get older the expectations grow and the pressure rises. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the feeling of pressure, it’s a feeling I love personally. But sometimes it’s hard to see the fun and enjoyment when the pressure and expectation has built up for too long without release.
I guess at this point it would be time to reset the cycle, no?