what does motivation really mean?

Like most things in life, we spend the majority of our time seeking answers anywhere we can imagine. We scroll through Instagram or turn on YouTube to listen to a compilation of speakers telling us, some screaming at us that change is possible; that we can do anything we want in this life—and that we should before time runs out. We’re told that the time to start is NOW; that sleep is for the unsuccessful, and that success takes sacrifice.

the problem

We feel great when watching a video about positivity and motivation. Our dopamine temporarily rises, and we momentarily believe that anything is possible.

Whoever put the video together did a fantastic job of combining the right words with background music to allow us to feel just right. Our other social media feeds tell us that there is more to life than where we are at the present moment. Combine that with the illusion that everyone we follow is living their absolute best life to near perfection, and we begin to feel and recognize what is missing in our own lives.

And as quickly as our dopamine levels rise, they begin to sink as our awareness of what’s missing in our lives becomes more apparent than ever before.

what’s missing

The reason some people could consume motivational content and move forward is simple—they use it as a tool that helps improve the ability that they’ve already developed to self-motivate. They don’t rely on the content alone.

There needs to be an understanding that for us to grow individually, we need to understand ourselves on an individual level—free from any outside influence or distractions. The previous statement should sound complicated, and it is because up until this very moment, everything that we are is a collection of all that we’ve previously consumed.

Every conversation. Every television show. Every teacher, every brief encounter, they all make up our current perspective. We’ll never find motivation anywhere until we develop a higher level of self-awareness and understand how all areas of our lives connect.

find your motivation

I’m not saying you should never watch or consume any motivational content—I use it as a tool daily. But we can never begin the process of change until we fully understand ourselves and why making a change is critical.

The first thing to understand is that change of any kind will never happen overnight. We must be patient. It took me a long time to fully understand the importance of patience. It could take years or even decades.

I don’t mean to discourage you, but much depends on the individual and their past conditioning. Understanding that our journey is ours and should never be compared to anyone else is a crucial step that can open us to change.

Ultimately, we must take inventory of our life. Taking stock can be complicated and requires reflection and understanding of who we are at this very moment, our strengths which we can build on, and where we have weaknesses that prevent us from growing.

We must look at ourselves as a whole unit—our diet is vital, fitness (e.g., exercise, yoga, meditation), time outdoors and time spent with the right people, our jobs and how much energy they take from us, time spent on our phones or in front of the television, and anything else that takes time and energy from our lives (e.g., environment, colleagues).

For some of us, this can be done alone, others may need a mentor or a therapist—both are OK and can help organize our minds and our lives. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.

the process is forever

Learning about ourselves takes time and is an on-going process. There is no quick fix; understanding this is essential. No one thing will bring us success. And nothing outside of ourselves can alone bring us to where we want to be.

Motivation is never a video or a meme. We have to know why we want the things we do and understand that the process is more significant than someone telling us that change is possible—change is possible, but only when we look to find motivation within ourselves.

We can bring motivation back to life, but it takes time, and more work than most people are willing to do. The fairest statement I can make is that we do have a choice and we can choose to do the work that can bring real change, or we can continue to live our lives the same that we have up until today.

We must begin by being honest with ourselves and know that change will require more work than we may be willing to believe. Be patient with yourselves. Commitment to wanting to make a change is the first step, what you achieve after that depends on how far you’re willing to go.

I believe that change in your life is possible, but what I think for you can only come to life if you’re willing to accept doing what is necessary to have the same.

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