What is motivation?

I have been told by my boss that I am being re-assigned. The details about when and what exactly I will be doing in my new position were not shared. I also found out that my current boss is leaving the company. This has taken the air out of my sails entirely.

It’s hard to focus on anything. It leaves me with more questions than answers. It brings out one of my biggest weaknesses. I talked about it during, Is That A Good Time?, and it is still clear today. Approval from others greatly effects my motivation.

I haven’t been able to get going this week at all. Not just at my job, but at home too. When I got hired a few short months ago, I was more excited than any other job I’ve ever had. I was gung-ho. I got as much done as possible every day. Lately it’s gotten very hard to keep up that pace. My work doesn’t seem to matter.

This has lead me to a series of questions about motivation.

I have a feeling many people out there have similar questions.

What is it about ambiguity that makes it so hard to focus?

Where does motivation come from?

If it comes from within, why can it not be called upon at will?

Why is it that some days I am determined not to fail and others I barely care if I exist?

Why is it so fleeting?

Is it something that’s developed?

Do I seek distraction because I am not motivated, or am I motivated to distraction out of some sort of sick subconscious need to sabotage myself?

Can you get it from a speaker?

Can you get from a poster?

Can you get it from a quote?

You might be wondering how I found the motivation to write this post. Well it was easy, all I had to do was stop trying to find something to write about and write about what was already on my mind.

While searching for some answers to the questions above,

I ran across this video and I found it fascinating.

Here is a quote from Dan Pink, the speaker in the video.

“Our business operating system … it’s built entirely around these extrinsic motivators, around carrots and sticks. That’s actually fine for many kinds of 20th century tasks. But for 21st century tasks, that mechanistic, reward-and-punishment approach, often doesn’t work, and often does harm.”

This was extremely enlightening for me.

It would appear that I, and I’m sure many of you, are trying to work in a 21st century world with a 20th century education.

It reminds me that in many situations, you can’t just keep your head down and keep chugging away. Sometimes you need to stop and look around. There might just be a better way to accomplish your task. It’s really no surprise. In fact, it really doesn’t change anything material. However, it does help me understand my own feelings and it is much easier to find motivation when I’m not consumed with guilt.

So, rest assured that exploring your interests is not the same as being lazy. Smelling the roses can lead to a perfume business. The modern business world requires creativity and thinking on your feet. Sometimes the best way to find the answer is to stop looking for it.

This is not to be used as an excuse, or a crutch. It is still important to apply effort. And while this new perspective gained from the video above didn’t answer all of my questions, it did help me find some focus. It reminded me that thinking outside the box and occasionally letting your mind wander has value. Sometimes it’s even more valuable than grinding out word after word with no passion behind it.

I still don’t know what plans my company has for me. I can’t see where my current path will lead even as soon as tomorrow. Looking around for a handle during this free fall left me overwhelmed and frantic. The only way to pull value from the situation is to sit back and enjoy the ride.It can be hard to remember sometimes, but activity and productivity are two different things. Don’t be afraid to sit and ponder from time to time. Sometimes the solution to a problem, even a problem of motivation, is right next to you. You just have to allow yourself to look around and see it.

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About John Dilley

John is an endless source of new ideas. With a background in both sports and music, he offers a unique perspective. He has written for The Daily Utah Chronicle, Filler, and has contributed content to several commercial websites. "Be it the past 10 beers or the past 10 years, may you learn from all of life's mistakes. Cheers!" - John Dilley

4 responses to “What is motivation?”

  1. Paul says :

    Most interesting John. I truly believe that greatness comes from the unbridled mind. You have stirred my creative juices. Thank You.

  2. Tommy Rowe says :

    There are 2 videos that I have found motivation and inspiration in myself when I have lost that wind in my sails. If you’re interested they are:


    • John Dilley says :

      Thanks, Tommy.

      I will definitely check them out.

      Thanks for reading the blog. I saw your facebook comment on the earlier post. I’m glad that you found it relatable. I’ll keep trying to write interesting posts. Hopefully they provide some value to the people who take the time to read them. You’re feedback is always appreciated.

      Thanks, again.

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