A Motivational Quest

I stand there frozen in fear. The stairs in front of me seem incredibly daunting and I wonder how I will ever overcome them. Once again I ask myself why on earth I would want to do this. To answer that question I mentally run through the process that got me here. It all started last night when I read an article about how great running up and down stairs is for bodies. I then decided that a stair workout sounded like a great idea and figured I would try it out the next day. That decision led me to where I am now: standing petrified in front of a horrific looking flight of stairs. Doing this workout seemed like a great idea beforehand, but for some reason I can’t seem to find the motivation I need to actually follow through with it now that I am here.

Perhaps you have experienced a situation similar to the one I just described. Or maybe you can’t relate to that at all. As it turns out, you could be the type of person who really doesn’t like to work out and you never really care to find the motivation to do painful physical activities. In that case, you might better relate to an academic struggle for motivation. If so, just think back to a time when one of your professors assigned a paper for your class. You procrastinated for a little while, but eventually came to a point where you knew you had to write that paper. You sat down in front of your computer and prepared to write, but as you stared at the blank computer screen you just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to begin writing. The entire writing process felt painful and foreboding; how could you ever build up the courage to take on such a task?

Finding motivation can be a very difficult endeavor. Even those people who are balls of energy that never appear to need any extra motivation sometimes hit a slump. There have certainly been times when Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled and didn’t want to go work out. At some point in his life, there was a period when Beethoven had trouble getting started with a symphony. Yes, I tell you even Hitler had days when he couldn’t seem to work up the motivation to attempt to take over the world. It happens to the best (and the worst) of us. But this is no reason to fear! On the contrary, together we can work to overcome those dreary days when your enthusiasm has hit rock bottom. Today, I am here to give you six tips to gather the motivation you need to begin even the most formidable mission.

  1. Make your task incredibly easy to begin.

When you are beginning to embark on a fearsome venture, start with something really easy. Do not tell yourself that you begin writing when you are finally typing words; tell yourself that you have already begun once you turn on the computer. Do not start a work out by lifting weights; instead, start it by tying your tennis shoes. Do not say that you start getting out of bed when you leave your bed, say that getting out of bed begins when you turn your alarm off. This mindset makes it much easier to get over the hump of beginning a task. Instead of having difficulty beginning, you will find that the difficult part is actually continuing. However, by then you will have already begun your mission, which will greatly enhance your motivation.

 

  1. Focus on your goal.

If you have a goal or a reason for doing something then it will be much easier to make yourself do it. For example, if a man is attempting to do a workout, he can focus on how he wants to better his health. Instead of thinking about how much running stairs hurts, he can tune his mind to emphasize the benefit of running those stairs. Doing this allows him to remember why he wants to work out and then use that knowledge to fuel himself.

 

  1. Stay positive

The more negative you are, the harder it will be to get motivated. If you keep telling yourself that you hate writing and that your paper will probably turn out badly and that having to write a paper is just ruining your life, then you will probably never find motivation to write that paper. That is exactly why you have to change your outlook from one full of negativity to one full of positivity. Remind yourself how well you can write (even if you don’t think you are a great writer). Remember that writing a paper will only take up a few hours of your life, which really isn’t that bad. Stay positive, and it will be much easier to find the elusive motivation that you seek.

 

  1. Reward yourself.

What better way is there to get yourself to do something than to place a reward at the end of the road? When you set aside time for a project, allocate a little time for something you enjoy as well. That way you can treat yourself to a reward after you finish. Then, when you are trying to motivate yourself you can remind yourself that there is something to look forward to after you are done with your difficult task.

 

  1. Use peer pressure to your advantage.

When you are preparing to tackle an unsettling enterprise, enlist the help of your friends. Tell them all about what you are going to do or even post about it on social media. Ask them to hold you accountable so that you do not veer from your course of action.

 

  1. Watch the Shia Labeouf Just Do It video.

Seriously, just watch it. You think this is a joke, and on one hand it is, but it actually leads to a very helpful tip: get motivated by watching or reading something that you find inspiring. Although it may not be the Shia Labeouf video, you should still attempt to find something that appeals to you personally. This will help to inspire you and raise your motivation levels dramatically.

(Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0)

 

There you have it: the six things that I have found to be the most helpful when I am trying to find motivation for a task. Doing these things can be extremely beneficial in your quest for motivation. Just remember, even though it may seem impossible, you can do it. Just like the Little Engine that Could thought that he could, I know that you can.

 

Written by Nathan

New Year, Same Lies

Like posting a MCM picture to Instagram or dressing up on Halloween, New Year resolutions have become a popular ritual with little objective. For the first couple of weeks in every new year, social media is buzzing with healthy recipes, de-cluttering tips, and post-workout selfies. By February though, most goals have mysteriously disappeared along with the gym memberships and fresh vegetables. In a culture where setting goals is popular, but putting in the work to reach them is not, it can be discouraging to even try. Part of the reason why so many New Year goals fizzle out is because they are driven by an inaccurate image of what a good resolution ought to entail. I have found at least three lies concerning resolutions that have been accepted as truth. Correcting these lies can be the difference between completing a successful transformational journey and merely watching others as they reach their own aspirations.

Lie #1: If I make a mistake or encounter a setback, my resolution has failed.

Unfortunately, “mistake” has incorrectly become synonymous with “failure.” I could go to Merriam-Webster to clarify the difference, but I would rather contrast mistake and failure with an illustration about Duct Tape. Sometime in junior high, I decided I was going to make my prom dress out of Duct Tape, and by the time my senior year rolled around nobody had talked me out of it. I spent years dreaming and months working with my mom and grandma on the project, but a week before prom I found myself desperately looking for a dress to order online. All of my carefully laid plains, extensive research, and hours of work were not enough to keep mistakes from happening. The type of tape I had chosen was not holding like I needed, and the dress wasn’t fitting the way I wanted it to. I had messed up, and I was ready to give up. In that time of frustration, I began to think about my 14-year-old self and how disappointed she would have been if I gave up on her dream. From my moment of indecision, I learned a valuable lesson: Mistakes do not cause a goal to remain unreached, they merely provide an easy excuse for giving up. Instead of quitting when quitting would have been easiest, I decided to push on with my dream, address my mistakes, and complete a beautiful dress. If you commit to run five miles a week but find yourself ending with only three, that doesn’t mean your goal is ruined. If you aim to lose ten pounds a month but only lose eight in January, don’t call it quits. Errors may prolong you from reaching your goal. In some instances you may find yourself starting over. But even then you have not failed. Keep pursuing your resolution, even when it doesn’t go according to plan; what you don’t expect to accomplish in one day, you can’t expect to ruin in one day, either.

me and greg

Me and my prom date, Greg. Did I mention his vest and tie were made out of Duct Tape, too?

Lie #2: This is my life, my goal, and my responsibility. I have to fulfill my resolution all on my own.

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Benchwarmers. If you’re not familiar with the story (which, really, you should be), it’s about three guys who team up with a billionaire to win a baseball tournament. They want to give the grand prize—a custom stadium—to kids who have never had the chance to play baseball due to bullying. Initially, Gus, the only talented player on the team, does all the coaching, pitching, fielding, and scoring, while Richie and Clark stand by. This works at first, but as the tournament goes on, Gus begins to struggle. It is only when the whole team gets involved that true success begins to unfold. Your New Year resolution will progress in a similar way, should you choose to tackle it alone. You can try to play coach, pitcher, and centerfield, but eventually you’re going to need to hit the ball. By making your New Year resolution public, even if it is just to a handful of trusted individuals, several of your roadblocks will already be conquered. Friends and family truly want to help you in the day to day pursuit of your resolution. Let them fully join you on your journey. Don’t hesitate to ask for a daily motivational text or call them up when you need to get a struggle off of your chest. Transparency is an empowering practice. Accountability is not only for the times when you fall behind or need encouragement, though it is certainly necessary in those seasons. Setbacks are unquestionably disheartening, but unrecognized accomplishments can be dejecting, too. When you hit a milestone or tackle a looming obstacle, don’t hesitate to celebrate victories with your team. Rejoice in the fact that not only are you making progress, but also that you have people who are willing to help you reach your goals.

Lie #3: The only time I am allowed to launch a big, life-altering resolution is on January 1.

The start of a new calendar year provides the visually encouraging motivation of a fresh page and a clean start. There is something symbolic about leaving behind the old habits, the old struggles, and the old you with the old year. If used correctly, an authentic New Year resolution can be an advantage to your cause. If used improperly, the calendar can be a serious hurdle in your already difficult journey. There is no law prohibiting personal resolutions to be made on April 29, July 14, or December 4. If you are reading this on January 2, or a random Tuesday in May don’t feel like you must wait until 2017 to begin pursuing a new goal. We are the creation of a God who renews his mercies every morning and gladly transforms the lives of His children upon the call of their voice. You are free to start anew whenever your heart desires and whenever an opportunity arises.

Don’t view a New Year resolution as an impossible task full of unconquerable obstacles, isolation, and strict rules. These are lies and nothing else. Should you choose to set a goal for yourself this year, begin your journey with the right mindset. Believe that mistakes do not hold the power to end your mission, confirm your capabilities through the support of others, and feel the freedom to initiate change in your life at any point in time. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your New Year brings!

Written by Savanna