For a few years, I have read multiple self-help, entrepreneurial or business related books every year. Books about making a change or getting something done.
This week, I noticed that every single one of those books seemed to have an underlying theme about motivation. But motivation appears to be this very fickle, emotional child inside of us, constantly fighting reality.
Hence my new conspiracy theory: motivation is the Boss Baby inside all of us.
It takes promising all kinds of treats, applause, and social media likes to entice this toddler to do what you want. Then, the *slightest* inexplainable thing could mean a meltdown.
All it takes is one less than encouraging comment, a comparison to someone who is more successful, impatience when you realize it will take time to get a project out, anything – and BAM! It’s a throw down, kicking, screaming situation.
That toddler says, “I want three more cups of coffee, someone to listen to my self-pity, and something to distract me until I can find more sassy memes to share.”
Before you know it, this tyrant has overtaken your life.
So it has occurred to me that the opposite of being delayed by lack of motivation is essentially…maturity.
My inner Boss Baby is offended even as I write this.
Let’s look at the facts here, shall we?
1. Adults use their words
I would never have left one of my jobs four hours early, or without getting anything done just because I was tired or couldn’t really think of the solution. At the very least, my past bosses would require that I explain the setback and hand my responsibility on to the person taking the next shift, or escalate it to a manager or owner when it was unsolvable at my level.
But pretending it wasn’t there? Not an option.
I’m required to act as an adult, with powers of communication. “Use your words!” we tell the two year old, but our own inner baby needs to hear that every day.
We need to have lots of people who know about our self-started projects, like writing, music, or small businesses. We have to use our words to say where we are on a project to our mentors, writing group members, coaches, and friends and family who will slowly start to see that we treat our own endeavors with the same respect as a job.
When we try to respect ourselves as an owner, a manager, the Boss Baby convinces us we’re weak, that we need comfort and our special formula, and someone else needs to fix it. But we might just need the structure that has gotten us through other projects in the past.
2. Maturity means you show up
I would also not be allowed to only show up to work when I had inoculated myself with the exact chemical combination of sleep, caffeine, Facebook, and memes that magically made me feel ready to tackle the day. But what do we do with writing? “I’m just dragging today, I didn’t get enough _____.”
Or we prioritize really weirdly:
“I have to de-pill my socks and scrub out the tiny water openings on the shower head with a homemade mixture and toothpicks before I can justify writing.”
3. Maturity means that you tell the truth
As we ask toddlers, “Are you telling me the truth?” Do you really have to do that before you can write, or does that make you FEEL better than facing the potential of imperfection?
4. Adults finish the day’s work
Don’t confuse motivation for the fuel you need to get you somewhere. It’s the song that your heart swells too, or that you rock out to with total abandon for 4 minutes when you’ve driven for hours and you’re almost there! But when it fades into Nickelback – you can’t just stop driving in the middle of the road and throw a tantrum. You have to keep going, you have to treat yourself like an adult, you have to show up and finish the work for yourself.
I think that motivation is a beautiful thing, but I’ve also learned that it takes cultivation and discipline to find it and train it to work for me. That’s why for now, I can’t listen to motivation. Because when it’s silent, my purpose and my dream have to carry on.
This has been a sermon-to-self with Carissa, where Carissa comes out and sings…a sermon to herself.