“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Rumi
In the previous post, I wrote about momentum. Momentum is about sustaining action (large and small) long enough that our project picks up a speed of its own and carries us along with it. We don’t feel like we have to push so much.
Motivation is about what gets us into (or out of) action in the first place. It speaks to a need or a desire that moves us. It can just as easily move us away from our target as toward it. Motivation can come from fear as well as love. It matters that our motivation be honest and in alignment with our more real self.
If we are motivated by fear, we may seek to avoid something. Even if we are motivated by a need to fill a sense of lack in ourselves (looking for love, recognition, a sense of belonging from an outside source), we may be trying to avoid the pain and emotion of feeling that sense of lack. In that case, we are afraid of our own emotions more than that from which we think we are running.
Feeling deeply our own emotions is one of the first steps toward recognizing we are the authors of our lives and as such are the ones who create our feeling loved, recognized and belonging.
If we are motivated by love, we may seek to express a passion, to share skills and insights, to create something for ourselves, for others, for the sheer beauty or play of it.
Our motivation contributes to our momentum. It is important to explore our motivations because, to put it bluntly, if our motivation is to prove something to someone else or to get something from them, then our strategy may well backfire. Our energy reserves will be depleted and our momentum will lose steam.
If you are procrastinating around something that makes your heart sing, you are more than likely avoiding vulnerability. It is vulnerable to allow yourself to be seen in your awkward exploration, grand adventure, playful innocence, sheer majesty.
If you are procrastinating around something that you think you should do, but it doesn’t really float your boat, then look deeply into your motivation. Is this your agenda or someone else’s? How in alignment with your values and desires for your life is it really? What do you expect to achieve or get for this? If you say yes to this, to what are you saying no? What are you avoiding by focusing on this instead of what you really want? Do you need to delegate or ask for help?
Let’s play with “motivation” as both a process/conditions question and one of goals/outcomes (motive).
As a process/conditions question, we are addressing how we can move ourselves into action, build and sustain momentum.
Some responses might be to:
• Build a habit or routine
• Plant a seed the night before to facilitate more automatic action the next day
• Make a game of it
• Have an accountability buddy
• Create a ritual around it
• Work with others
• Go on a working retreat
• A clean office
• Setting a timer
• Play music while doing the work
What processes/conditions motivate you? Are you putting them into place?
As a goal/outcome (motive) question, we are addressing why we want to do what we say we want to do. What we hope to get from it. It may also be a question of why we are avoiding what we say we want to do. Again whose agenda is it? Is it a should a have to a must or a desire? Is it for short term gratification or long term satisfaction?
Here’s an exercise to help you tease out whose agenda you are following (or chasing).
What do you want?
Take a moment or two to write down your answer to that question. Write at least 10 things you want and include the thing you are procrastinating around that you think or know you want.
Some of your wants may be simple, like a new washing machine. Some may be more complex like to have a child or change careers. An avoidance want might be, to get out of my marriage or get away from this town. (You aren’t sure what you want, but you know what you don’t want. If you have to start there, then do.)
What do you really want?
Take time to write down the answer(s) to that question, however it shows up for you.
If your first answer was more of a “don’t want” avoidance item, then write what you want instead of that. For example, I want to get away from this town might now become I want to live in the country or I want to live where the weather is more temperate.
For some people, it will be further clarity around their original answer, like a front-loading, red washing machine or a career in which I can telecommute.
For others, the answer(s) may be entirely different. The first wants become replaced by something deeper, more heart-felt, more vulnerable. Perhaps it even feels risky to put it in writing or say it out loud.
Many of my new clients have difficulty with the question, “What do you want?” It is totally understandable. For the most part, we have been shut down over the years with admonishments about what we should and shouldn’t want, can and can’t have, need to accept, plan B’s and compromises.
We’ve also been told it is selfish to want what we want unless it is for someone else or “world peace.” We are subjected to the opinions and judgments of others about our desires and preferences. It is painful to want something we think we can’t have. So, over the years, we’ve learned to stuff it.
We bury our treasures so deep that finding them is a major archeological dig. So, don’t worry if you are having trouble with the question. Stay with it. You were designed to want what you want at a heart and soul level. Our life energy and time is too precious to waste on chasing after someone else’s (including our wounded ego’s) agenda.
Here is another fun and powerful way to open up to your heart’s true desire, which you may also interpret as your calling). I first heard this from my good friend Joette Tizzone. She says she may have adapted it from elsewhere. You’ve probably heard similar approaches. I am fond of this version.
The Bliss Question
Close your eyes.
You have everything you need to create the life of your dreams.
There are absolutely no obstacles.
You have the money you need.
You have the knowledge you need.
You are surrounded by helpers, and anything you don’t know or think you might need is happily supplied to you by others.
Everything is in harmony as you create your beautiful life.
Allow yourself to feel this….
Now, please describe it to me, in the present tense, such as I am ….
Where are you? ( I am …)
What are you doing? (I am …)
What is around you?
Who is with you?
What does it feel like? (I feel …)
Allow yourself to bask in the feeling.
Open your eyes.
If you take the time to do this with reverence for the spiritual human you are, you will have begun to feed energy to a future that motivates you into creative action and comes back to you as a river moving through you.
Do not worry for now about the how. The how is always revealed as needed.
As Joseph Campbell said:
If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. If you say, ‘Everyone’s going on this trip this year, and I’m going too,’ the no guides will appear. Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior…You must have courage. It’s the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.*
So, dear reader: What do you want? What motivates you?
The next post in this series will help you make a distinction between the form and the function of what you want which will help you go further with understanding the why.
If you would like to uncover the buried treasure of your true calling, begin your grand adventure and could use an ally along the way, contact me and we can talk about how coaching might be your best investment in your self.
copyright © October 2015 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
*Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.