What’s Sapping Your Motivation? Find out!

Google the word “motivation” and you’ll get back over 265 million results. It’s a hugely popular self-help topic for at least one reason: motivation is difficult to sustain over the long haul. It needs to be nurtured by the right conditions, sustained by an environment that reinforces and energizes the activity you undertake to achieve your goals. Too often, however, we find ourselves in an atmosphere at work, at home, or at school that does the opposite. It drains our motivation and leaves us exhausted.

What kills or builds motivation will be different for different personality styles. See where you fit in the list below:

  • Delighted by Details – if this describes you, then one major drain on your motivation is being put in a position where you have to act before you completely understand the situation. You enjoy getting all the facts and comprehending all the implications. Until you’re satisfied that you know precisely what will happen as a result of an action, you’re not ready to make a move.
  • Like to Take it Slow – if you’d prefer a steady, even pace, then sudden changes in direction will sap your motivational energy. Interruptions and pressure cause you to shut down. You need an environment in which you’re allowed to take time to adapt to change. If change is forced on you, you may react with passive negativity.
  • Driven to Achieve – for you, the least motivational atmosphere is one in which you’re given direct orders without getting a “say.” You much prefer to be in control and in charge, especially in situations where your leadership can be recognized and appreciated. When you feel pushed and bossed around, you don’t shut down. Instead, you push back. The conflict quickly drains any positive motivation.
  • Loving the Social Life – if you’re a talkative, relational person, then what messes with your motivation is the feeling that you’ve been rejected. You enjoy developing rapport with others, giving and receiving affirmation in equal measure. The unexpected sting of being criticized or put down will deplete your positive energy.

 If you can relate to one or more of the behavioral styles above, watch out for the motivation-busters listed. If you can, try to insulate yourself from the negative influences that consistently weaken your resolve. Choose to spend time with people whose positivity has an uplifting effect on you. If possible, express your desire for a change in the environment. If you’d like more time to think through a problem, ask for it. Want more control and responsibility in a project? Volunteer to lead it. Sometimes you can’t escape or change the difficult atmosphere. In those cases, try to take the long view – remember that the pressure can’t last forever. Hang in there!


Profit from persistence

I’ve recently focused on hope and courage as keys to progress. On top of those mission-critical qualities, you also need to be persistent if you’re going to reach your highest heights.

Things don’t work out the way you’d planned. Take my hairline, for instance. It’s moving progressively away from my forehead. Do you think I planned it this way? No, life is full of disappointments, challenges and obstacles.

History tells us that Abe Lincoln lost eight elections and went bankrupt twice, but he persisted.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by twelve publishers. Dr. Seuss got turned down by twenty-five. Even so, they persisted.

General Douglas MacArthur was rejected by West Point not once but twice. Elvis Presley got fired by the manager of the Grand Ole Opry and was advised to stop singing. They, of course, persisted.

What’s persistence look like? Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, wrote about how one man overcame his difficulties:

“Well, first, I try to go around it. If I can’t go around it, I try to get under it. If I can’t get under it, I try to go over it, and if I can’t get over it, I just plow right through it.”

That’s the spirit. If you’ve got a dream, tap into hope, courage and persistence – and push on! Keep reaching. It’ll happen.

Please comment. I dare you.

Send your roots down deep

A little over one year ago, our family was camping in West Virginia when the huge “derecho” of 2012 hit. The massive, fierce thunderstorm impacted 11 states along its 700 mile path of destruction. Gusts above 80 mph knocked down trees all around our campground. The ones that remained standing were trees that had a strong tap root – oak, ash, walnut, redbud, and others. Trees with shallow roots were laid flat by the pounding wind.

We can learn something from the trees that withstood the storm – if you want to make it through the hard times, you need a deep root system.

And roots aren’t just critical for survival – they’re also necessary for vigorous growth. If the tree is going to grow tall, then it needs thick, strong roots to anchor it, to keep it standing tall, and most importantly to draw up life-giving water and nutrients. Think about the humble acorn – it sits on the ground, just a hard little lump. Because it’s a seed, it contains the blueprint of the tall tree that it might become. Only when the acorn sinks a root into the fertile soil does the growth begin.

Every one of us was born with a blueprint inside – a combination of DNA and destiny – that contained all the information needed for us to become all we were meant to be. Each of us was also born into a family and a community. When we’re rooted in those relationships, they can make us strong and give us a good foundation. They can shape our values and provide us with our role models and heroes.

Of course not everybody has a great relationship with their roots. George Burns used to say that “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family… in another city!”

Our root relationships powerfully influence us in both negative and positive ways. As a result, our growth can either be stifled by fear or fueled by faith.

For example, when I was a kid, my dad could see all the accidents, tragedies and disasters that might happen at any moment. And his warnings were, shall we say… graphic. For example, I’d be going out to mow the lawn and he’d comment: “I’ll tell you one thing, mister…. You pull that back too far and it’ll chew your foot right off….”

Thanks to my dad, I was more than stifled – I was perpetually terrified.

The good news: I got over it. Even better news – when I was a young adult, my dad was one whose faith and belief in me fueled my desire to be the best that I could be.

I clearly remember the day we were on the porch swing and I was talking about my dreams and goals. It got quiet, then Dad said “I believe you can do just about whatever you set your mind to. I’ve always thought that about you.”

Those are powerful words of faith! Did anyone ever say something like that to you? If so – here’s my advice: believe them! Agree with them!

And whether anyone encouraged you like that or not, is there someone in your life with lots of potential? Someone you really believe in? Then don’t keep it to yourself. Tell them!

Being rooted in a good family or a supportive community gives us strength. When we send our roots down deep, we’re standing on solid ground.

Have a story of how your roots in family and community helped you stay strong and stable? Please share a comment.