No, I’m not writing this post from my eleven story beachside home, nor am I gazing out of my imported Italian stained glass window for inspiration; but glean what you will from a college student writing this as raw as it comes.

I’m hoping you’re intrigued by the bland title of this piece “Motivation”. Motivation is possibly the most abstract quality we look for in an individual.

Though completely non-quantifiable, it is expected, measured, and necessary for even the smallest feats.

My thesis

I believe that motivation is not earned, nor achieved, it is self-awarded. Self-awarded meaning we have influence over our personal level of motivation. Nature vs. nurture? Well, both are at play when it comes to how much motivation we “have” but I lean towards nurture. Health limitations aside, I believe we sit in the drivers seat when it comes to feeling and being motivated in our lives.

Motivation takes on many forms; call it what you will drive, determination, discipline…our ability to accomplish what we’ve set out to do hinges entirely upon our ability to follow-through or do what we’ve set out to do. All fluff aside, motivation is a self-awarded product of our efforts. To provide more insight on the unorthodox theory that we self-award motivation, take the following example:

Say we’ve set out to go to work, write a paper, and then go to the gym. Simply accomplishing these tasks themselves does not magically fill us with motivation. The acts themselves do nothing more than become tasks we scratch off our checklists. I propose that we must award ourselves with motivation from completing these tasks, in other words we choose to become motivated.

You are the captain

The key then to improving motivation-which again is self-awarded- seems to be in the choice we make to win ourselves motivation. Understanding that we are the judge, the presenter of the award, and not the contestant makes all the difference. The realization that we can in fact give ourselves motivation, rather than wait patiently for it, is essential. Understanding our captainship over personal motivational levels means that the way we schedule our workload, tap into our strengths, and improve upon our weaknesses is a direct determinant of our motivational stock. Only we know what we are capable of. Only we know just how much motivation we can award for our efforts.

Do we work with lists, planners, notepads, or endless sticky notes covering our bedside table? How well we track what must get done determines just how much we can get done.

Other ways to improve our capacity include improving our overall health, prioritizing what deserves our motivational award, and creating realistic expectations for ourselves in order to more accurately (and generously) self-award. Whether we like it or not we are realistic in how we award ourselves with motivation, we can’t fool ourselves. We know (1) what we can accomplish and (2) what we have accomplished. The discrepancy between these two is fillable. Recognizing this discrepancy, and taking steps to improve our capacity allows us to award ourselves with the motivation just sitting in this gap.

Nature vs. Nurture

Now to address the debate of nature vs. nurture. Can we only award an amount of motivation proportionate to what we were born capable of doing? No. The very idea of being the deliverer of our own motivation negates this. We can in fact direct and channel our efforts to perform better, earning ourselves more motivation. As we steer ourselves towards better habits and improve our capabilities we cannot help but award ourselves with proportionately more motivation.

Furthermore, to say that the more we do equates to the same amount of additional self-awarded motivation is too simple. Take the hypothetical of someone who can accomplish a million things in the work space, but cannot find it in themselves to feel motivated in their home life. In other words, they awarded their entire supply of motivation to work and as such exhausted the supply before stepping through their front door. The overall amount of life-motivation extending to all elements of the 24 hour day is a byproduct of what makes the cut for being worthy of our time.

This is where balance comes to play. Do we push ourselves to be involved and complete tasks in the office, at home, in the gym? Motivation compartmentalizes into different categories of life, and is expressed most in the categories we award most of our motivation. Thus, we are balancing and spreading our time and focus between a variety of life categories each with an allocated level of awarded motivation. Our performance in all respective categories of life seemingly add together to create a total amount of self-awarded motivation. Also worth noting is the natural inclination we come out of the box with. Differing personality types lean towards allocating their time differently to each category of life. Human diversity is a testament of this.

The takeaway

We are all incredible, in some arena of life. Maybe in all. We self-award motivation based on how we view our excellence in life-performance. We allocate our awarded motivation to differing categories of life. The simple example being; we feel naturally inclined to allocate most of our motivation towards our work category of life. We then obviously earn the largest amount of motivation from our performance in this area. This is the cycle. We earn motivation and allocate where we please. My proposal? Break the cycle, because we can. Increase the amount of motivation we award ourselves by (1) better planning (2) expectations, and (3) overall health. Then, like our financial portfolios, diversify where we allocate our motivation from all respective areas of life. Become better.

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