Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh sure, ask the most difficult question first...

See what you get when you ask for suggestions about blog topics!?!  One of the first questions I got was can you talk about Motivation!  Motivation would seem to be one of those simple things and yet once you start getting into it you see that it is a very complex issue to tackle.  Wouldn't it be great we could motivate ourselves or others with a simple sentence, it must work because we see all the t-shirts that aim to do this very thing.  But, it isn't quite that easy now is it.  How about those fantastic 'win one for the Gipper!' speeches that must work or watching Rocky for the 1,000th time (who isn't pumped up after that).  And yet given our best efforts we launch into a new healthy habit only to watch it slip away.  Where the hell is Burgess Meredith when we are fighting the temptation to eat that huge ice cream sundae?  "You're a bum, if you give in and eat that ice cream, now get back to the gym!"  Let's take on this topic of Motivation one step at a time.  What exactly is motivation?  What makes someone 'motivated'?  Can you motivate someone else?  Can someone motivate us?

According to Wikipedia...:Motivation is the driving force which causes us to achieve goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but, theoretically, it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in a basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, selfishness, morality, or avoiding mortality. Conceptually, motivation should not be confused with either volition or optimism.[1] Motivation is related to, but distinct from, emotion."  There, that clears every thing up right?  Now go out and get healthy!  I believe that the answer is in here somewhere and yet needs a little more.

As a basis, I believe that we are all creatures of habit and we like to be comfortable.  The extrinsic motivation comes from outside of us, this is where the movies and music and speeches live.  Here is some breaking news for you, all of us are DIFFERENT and we respond differently to external motivations.  Some people need positive reinforcement while others respond to being challenged or negative reinforcements.  I think this is where all the confusion comes from.  We have all been told at some point 'you can't do it?' but why do some people here it and give up and say 'yea, you're right, I need to find something more suitable for me' and others like me hear that and say 'oh yea, well, now I will do it, just to prove you wrong!"?  Is it genetics?  Genetics seem to be the 'cause Du Jor' these days.  Anything we are not sure of must be 'genetics'.  He is just 'wired' that way,  its in his DNA-he can't help it."  Which brings up the whole debate of nature vs. nurture (here we go opening up Pandora's Box).  Do we act the way we do because of our genetic make up or because of the environment we are raised in or some combination of the two?  Make no mistake that genetics dictate our physical size in height and general body shape and other physical traits like skin color, eye color, sex and some diseases that genetically linked.  But, the way we act and the behaviors and belief systems we have are all part of us making sense of the world.  We spend the first parts of our lives trying to figure this world out and we have plenty of input from parents, teachers, coaches and peers to help us make sense of the things that happen to us and to those we know.  When we are presented with a new circumstance we take a look back at our personal history to find a reference point.  'Have I ever been in a situation like this before?'  and if so what do I do about it?  If not, then what is the closest thing that I can compare it too?  And on we go through our lives situation by situation.  We store all of our experiences in our subconscious along with all of our reasons, stories and justifications.  These are those little voices that constantly reminds us 'you're not good at things like this' or 'this is something we are very good at'.  And then when we try something new and things don't go right we hear it again 'See, I told you that you shouldn't do that'.  We have taken external or extrinsic feedback and made it intrinsic or internal.  The problem with this is that we begin to limit what is possible because we already think we know what is going to happen.  How many of you starting on a weight loss plan think, "wow, this is really going to work!!" vs. "none of these ever work but I guess I will try."  That is launching into a program from two very different places. The world is full of possibilities and you can attain (almost) anything.  (almost because you can't change the genetic stuff, Micheal Jackson excluded).  I believe motivation lies in this simple fact. The definition is correct "Motivation is the driving force to accomplish goals" but ONLY if we are willing to pay the price to accomplish those goals and not let the baggage from the past get in the way.  Nothing worth having is every easy, if it was everyone would have it.  You do need some external support to help get you there and hold you accountable but you have to want it.  You have to want it bad enough to not listen to those voices telling you it's not worth it.  Let's continue this discussion in the future, there is a lot here to cover.  

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